An anniversary we appreciate: Sátántangó, as noted by Rosenbaum

by Ryland Walker Knight

misty eyed

Béla Tarr's Sátántangó turns 15 this year, apparently, and Jonathan Rosenbaum, one of the film's oldest and most vocal champions, wrote a little ditty at the request of Tarr to help commemorate the moment. His second graf is typically astute:

The film finally became available here last year on DVD from Facets Video, helping to demonstrate how much cinema as a “language” is more easily translatable than literature. For many years, Béla and I have had a running debate about the relation of the film (and, by implication, the novel) to my favorite novel in any language, William Faulkner’s Light in August (1932), which also focuses largely on the simultaneous events of a single day in a depressed, flat rural area as seen through the consciousness of several alienated characters—alienated from themselves as well as from one another—including a fallen patriarch who observes all the others called Reverend Hightower (a name and figure that already anticipates some of the structure and vision of The Man from London), and who might have served as his community’s conscience if they all hadn’t deteriorated into an apocalyptic, post-ethical stupor. Béla doesn’t see any connection because he doesn’t care for the Hungarian translations of Faulkner, and it’s true that one could also trace many of Faulkner’s methods to those of Joseph Conrad. But I also can readily acknowledge that the sarcastic wit of the story is quintessentially that of Eastern Europe.

I was not fortunate enough to see The Man from London when it played in San Francisco and Berkeley as part of last year's San Francisco International FIlm Festival but I have, somehow, seen this other (enormous) thing, and I'm still mostly proud of what I wrote about it, which you can read by clicking this link, for, if any thing, the simple fact that it's a fine marking post for that stage in my development, my taste, my smarts, my life.

man from london

No comments:

Post a Comment