Having been looking closely at the work of Tarr recently (see earlier post), I came across a recent obit at the New York Times for fellow Hungarian filmmaker (and a great influence on Tarr himself) Miklós Jancsó. I was watching the “dance” scene at the end of the second third of Sátántangó tonight, where the little girl who had an epiphany about the connectedness of all things, was later looking into a pub window at the risible-yet-empathetic adults stumbling around in a drunken travesty of the tango and I couldn’t help but consider Tarr’s romantic inclinations as embodied in the child and her subsequent disillusionment upon seeing the adults: directionless, senseless, hopeless. The scene is rife with poignancy, working as both a social and existential metaphor.
The circumstances in Sátántangó, the failure of the communal farm, the sadness and poverty there, arise in part due to Hungary’s turbulent history. Enter Jancsó.
“Miklos Jancso, a Hungarian filmmaker who used episodes from his nation’s history to create critically praised parables of war and oppression, died on Friday [January 31]. He was 92.”
When tying the two artist’s work together, as the death of Jancsó has done (not unlike the webs invoked in Sátántangó), we catch a glimpse of history as cyclical, of humanity as grotesquely beautiful, always imperfect,forever changing yet somehow remaining disturbingly the same.
If you haven’t had a chance to see any of his films, they’re quite good, and I believe it’s the opinion of many that Jancsó is a highly underrated director. So it’s worth the effort to find some of his films and watch them.