http://www.dvdbeaver.com/film/direct-chair/tarr.htm
Hungary / Germany / Switzerland 1994

 

For the last decade, the name Béla Tarr has surfaced once in a while, but once spoken out, the name lingers, even though one never is closer to Tarr than the sound of his name alone. The reason may well be, that his works are largely unseen. For the longest time, Tarr has only been viewable at institutions as MoMA. Few have seen Werckmeister Harmonies, fewer have seen Sátántangó, even fewer has seen the remaining works of Tarr. Most only know of his work thru the writings of esoteric cinephiles, who praise and hail, or by commented influence upon such directors as for instance Gus van Sant. That is until now, where his films are being released on DVD, which allows not only – finally – to get to know his work, but by repeated viewings to study and appreciate it.

Based on Krasznahorkai's novel by the same name, Sátántangó tells the story of group of people in a poor Hungarian agricultural collective after the fall of Communism, and how their despair is – not changed, but – altered by the arrival of a stranger, who in turn cheats them for their money and hopes. It is divided into twelve sections, telling several stories, which, while the film is meant to be seen in one viewing, can be seen individually to be reflected upon, such as the story of the little girl, who first poisons her beloved cat, then herself.

Tarr constructs the narrative of, by J. Hoberman named, “…morose blocks of real time.” At times, the camera appears to capture nothing but time, having people and / or events just passing thru, as for instance the opening shot, where the camera slowly follows cows passing the screen. Genette said about tense, that even if no action occurs in a shot, the time devoted to a shot builds up expectation of action.

Having said, that contemporary cinema doesn’t invest the time or space needed to understand people, Tarr not only expands time beyond what narrative or tense would require, but space likewise, by tracking shots and extreme depth of field. Tarr seems to use this expectation to transpose the resignation and despair of the villagers in order to articulate the aimless desperation of the actions. Hence, even the simplest acts, as choosing to stand rather than to pull a chair and sit down, become significant, as they are action in “morose blocks of real time.”

Similar with Tarr’s use of space. The village is described as being cut off from the rest of the world by bog, mud and rain, and is visually displayed by either empty spaces or few pieces of furniture. If people weren’t present, one would be inclined to say, that the village was uninhabited – a ghost town.

While Sátántangó, due to it being in black and white, Hungarian and running 7 hours, on paper may sound like the ultimate joke about art-house cinema, it is nothing less than a mesmerizing life changing cinematic experience.

Henrik Sylow

Poster

Theatrical Release: February 8, 1994

Reviews    More Reviews  DVD Reviews

DVD Comparison: 

Artificial Eye - Region 2 - PAL vs. Facets - Region 0 - NTSC

Big thanks to Henrik Sylow for the Review!

(Artificial Eye - Region 2 - PAL LEFT vs. Facets - Region 0 - NTSC RIGHT)

DVD Box Cover

Distribution

Artificial Eye

Region 2 - PAL

Facets

Region 0 - NTSC

Runtime 6:59:46 (4% PAL speedup) 6:59:46 (from PAL source)
Video

1.66:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

1.66:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.1 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s
Audio 2.0 Dolby Digital Hungarian Mono 2.0 Dolby Digital Hungarian Mono
Subtitles English, None English, None
Features Release Information:
Studio: Artificial Eye

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen letterboxed - 1.66:1

Edition Details:
• See below for each disc.

DVD Release Date: November 13th, 2006
Three digipack in box

Chapters 12

Release Information:
Studio:
Facets

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen letterboxed - 1.66:1

Edition Details:
• fourth disc with Macbeth (1982), Journey on the Plain (1995), Prologue (2004) and 5 mins on the restoration

DVD Release Date:
July 22nd, 2008
Three digipack in box (see photo)

Chapters various

 

 

Comments:
ADDITION: Facets - Region 0 NTSC - July 08':

If ever there was a reason to own a region-free DVD player....

Well, I can't say I am surprised. The three (actually all 4) Facets discs, despite rumors, are also non-anamorphic, and they are unfortunately from an unconverted PAL source (see the times) and hence are filled with artifacts like 'ghosting' and digital noise. The image is generally muddy and appears to be interlaced - making it more hazy and even less sharp. Sigh.

I haven't watched the three discs all the way through but have done some extensive sampling to reach these conclusions.

While I can appreciate Facets giving a decent attempt at a 'package' here - they are still miserable failures on the digital transfer front. The second disc is single-layered and overall the image is much darker. In short the Artificial Eye set - also imperfect - is far in advance of this Facets representation of Tarr's masterpice film. Depending on the system it can be a humungous difference - like night and day. Facets have even cheaply duplicated the exact same static menus screen for all three feature discs.

NOTE: The term 'director approved' seems to get thrown around a lot these past few years. What is can mean is the director endorses the print that the digital transfer is made from. It, very infrequently, means he/she approves the final encode - where anything can happen - from cropping to incorrect standard conversion. The fact that this Facet's package is labeled as 'director approved' is fairly meaningless. 

I didn't give a thorough test to the audio but it too seems, like the image transfer, at the weaker end of the scale.

Facets have tried with a fourth disc inclusion (single-layered). It includes Tarr's TV version of Macbeth (1982 - 63 minutes 4:3 interlaced), Journey on the Plain (1995, 34 minutes - color), Prologue (2004, 5 minutes, 4:3 letterboxed - interlaced) and 5 minutes on the restoration which states Facts as initiating the removal of 500,000 pieces of dirt and debris, scratch repair etc. from the print. There is also a 24-page linter notes booklet which includes the text of "A Symposium at Facets" with Susan Doll in conversation with Jonathan Rosenbaum. The latter may be the best part of this set.

In an age where DVD production companies are producing high-definition digital transfers on Blu-ray disc - I'm afraid Facets appears as a techno-dinosaur with their work only really acceptably viewable on old tube TVs (the smaller the better). They have some amazing licensed works in their stable of films but need a strong influx of cash to support them to modern standards. This is almost as bad as Fox/Lorber's stuff from more than a decade ago. The extras are a positive attempt although they too lack any type of impressive representation. So despite this we really have no alternative but to continue to recommend the Artificial Eye package (currently half the price of the Facets) - which we strongly encourage to those both uninitiated to the film or post-appreciating it.  

Gary Tooze   

ON THE ARTIFICIAL EYE: Despite the presence of macro-blocking and visible blocks of difference shades of grey pixels, when zooming in, the transfer looks great. Strong blacks, no visible artefacts while viewing, strong details.

 - Henrik Sylow  

Overall, a very good package indeed. Decent video for a non-anamorphic transfer (i.e., leaps and bounds better than the video featured on those horrible bootlegs). Both the AE and the Clavis sets are more or less the same. However, the AE set is slightly better than the Clavis set in terms of subtitles (style, position in the frame...and actual translation to a small near minuscule extent), package design (the AE set features three slim keepcases that slip into a nice, sturdy cardboard sleeve vs. Clavis' double-disc size amaray style case), and video in a certain respect. Specifically, the Clavis set appears to have a sporadic stream of debris that runs along the top edge of the frame. While this stream of debris does not distract from the viewing experience of the film, it is nevertheless a video defect. However, said defect is not on the AE edition of the film (so far as I can tell from my quick spot check). Thus, the AE edition takes the lead video wise (although aside from this small difference, the video on both is more or less the same). Although we have more than two weeks to go in the month of November, I still nominate AE's edition of Satantango for DVD of the Month. The DVD presentation of the film could be better, but it is nevertheless truly exciting to finally have this film on DVD. Throw away those infamous bootlegs and pick up the AE set of Satantango. Irimias and Petrina have finally arrived on the DVD format. All hail.

Karim (a.k.a livullmannfan)

DVD Box Cover

 

Distribution

Artificial Eye

Region 2 - PAL

Facets

Region 0 - NTSC

Runtime 2:11:37 (4% PAL speedup) 2:11:28 (from PAL source)
Video

1.66:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 6.70 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

1.66:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.1 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate

Bitrate

Audio 2.0 Dolby Digital Hungarian Mono 2.0 Dolby Digital Hungarian Mono
Subtitles English, None English, None
Features Release Information:
Studio: Artificial Eye

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen letterboxed - 1.66:1

Edition Details:
• Béla Tarr filmography
• ...
• Chapters:
• 1 - The News is They're Coming
• 2 - Rise From The Dead
• 3 - Know Something

DVD Release Date: November 13th, 2006
digipack

Chapters 3

Release Information:
Studio:
Facets

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen letterboxed - 1.66:1

Edition Details:
• fourth disc with Macbeth (1982), Journey on the Plain (1955), Prologue (2004) and 5 mins on the restoration

DVD Release Date:
July 22nd, 2008
Three digipack in box (see photo)

Chapters various

 

  Facets Package

 

 



DVD Menus

 

(Artificial Eye - Region 2 - PAL LEFT vs. Facets - Region 0 - NTSC RIGHT)
 

 

Facets fourth disc

 


Screen Captures

 

(Artificial Eye - Region 2 - PAL TOP vs. Facets - Region 0 - NTSC BOTTOM)


subtitle sample

 

 


(Artificial Eye - Region 2 - PAL TOP vs. Facets - Region 0 - NTSC BOTTOM)

 

 


(Artificial Eye - Region 2 - PAL TOP vs. Facets - Region 0 - NTSC BOTTOM)

 

 

 

DVD Box Cover

Distribution

Artificial Eye

Region 2 - PAL

Facets

Region 0 - NTSC

Runtime 1:59:28 (4% PAL speedup) 1:59:16 (from PAL source)
Video

1.66:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 6.70 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

1.66:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 4.5 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate : AE

Bitrate : Facets

Audio 2.0 Dolby Digital Hungarian Mono 2.0 Dolby Digital Hungarian Mono
Subtitles English, None English, None
Features Release Information:
Studio: Artificial Eye

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen letterboxed - 1.66:1

Edition Details:
• 4 - The Spider's Function
• 5 - Comes Unstitched
• 6 - The Spider's Function II

DVD Release Date: November 13th, 2006
digipack

Chapters 3

Release Information:
Studio:
Facets

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen letterboxed - 1.66:1

Edition Details:
• fourth disc with Macbeth (1982), Journey on the Plain (1995), Prologue (2004) and 5 mins on the restoration

DVD Release Date:
July 22nd, 2008
Three digipack in box (see photo)

Chapters various

 

 

 



DVD Menus

 

(Artificial Eye - Region 2 - PAL LEFT vs. Facets - Region 0 - NTSC RIGHT)
 

 


Screen Captures

 

(Artificial Eye - Region 2 - PAL TOP vs. Facets - Region 0 - NTSC BOTTOM)

 

 


(Artificial Eye - Region 2 - PAL TOP vs. Facets - Region 0 - NTSC BOTTOM)

 

 


(Artificial Eye - Region 2 - PAL TOP vs. Facets - Region 0 - NTSC BOTTOM)

 

NOTE: See combing in the Facets disc

 

 

 

DVD Box Cover

 

Distribution

Artificial Eye

Region 0 - PAL

Facets

Region 0 - NTSC

Runtime 2:49:50 (4% PAL speedup) 2:49:40 (from PAL source)
Video

1.66:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 6.60 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

1.66:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.33 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate: AE

Bitrate: Facets

Audio 2.0 Dolby Digital Hungarian Mono 2.0 Dolby Digital Hungarian Mono
Subtitles English, None English, None
Features Release Information:
Studio: Artificial Eye

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen letterboxed - 1.66:1

Edition Details:
• 7 - Irimiás Gives a Speech
• 8 - Perspective From the Front
• 9 - Go to Heaven? Have Nightmares?
• 10 - Perspective From the Rear
• 11 - Just Trouble and Work
• 12 - No Way Out

DVD Release Date: November 13th, 2006
digipack

Chapters 6

Release Information:
Studio:
Facets

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen letterboxed - 1.66:1

Edition Details:
• fourth disc with Macbeth (1982), Journey on the Plain (1995), Prologue (2004) and 5 mins on the restoration

DVD Release Date:
July 22nd, 2008
Three digipack in box (see photo)

Chapters various

 



DVD Menus

 

 


Screen Captures

 

(Artificial Eye - Region 2 - PAL TOP vs. Facets - Region 0 - NTSC BOTTOM)

 

 


(Artificial Eye - Region 2 - PAL TOP vs. Facets - Region 0 - NTSC BOTTOM)

 

 


(Artificial Eye - Region 2 - PAL TOP vs. Facets - Region 0 - NTSC BOTTOM)

 

 

 


DVD Box Cover

Distribution

Artificial Eye

Region 2 - PAL

Facets

Region 0 - NTSC




 

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