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1994, Arbelos Films, 450 min, Hungary/Germany/Switzerland, Dir: Béla Tarr

Based on the book by László Krasznahorkai, this seminal work of “slow cinema” follows members of a small, defunct agricultural collective living in a post-apocalyptic landscape after the fall of communism who, on the heels of a large financial windfall, set out to leave their village. As a few of the villagers secretly conspire to take off with all of the earnings for themselves, a mysterious character, long thought dead, returns to the village, altering the course of everyone’s lives forever. Shot in stunning black-and-white by Gábor Medvigy and filled with exquisitely composed and lyrical long takes, SÁTÁNTANGÓ unfolds in 12 distinct movements, alternating forward and backward in time, echoing the structure of a tango dance. Tarr’s vision, aided by longtime partner and collaborator Ágnes Hranitzky, is enthralling and his portrayal of a rural Hungary beset by boozy dance parties, treachery and near-perpetual rainfall is both transfixing and uncompromising. Named one of the 40 greatest films ever made in the 2012 Sight & Sound/British Film Institute’s Critics Poll.

2011, Cinema Guild, 146 min, Hungary, Dir: Béla Tarr

While traveling in Turin, Italy in 1889, German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche witnessed a horse being whipped. He tossed his arms around the horse’s neck to protect it, and then collapsed. Less than a month later, Nietzsche would be diagnosed with a mental illness that left him bedridden and mute for the next 11 years, until his death at age 65. But whatever happened to the horse? After opening with this ingenious set-up and in less than three dozen long takes spread out over 146 minutes, THE TURIN HORSE, reportedly the last feature from Hungarian maestro Béla Tarr, plunges us into a feat of speechless, spellbinding storytelling, hypnotically evoking the rhythms of daily life as he follows a farmer forced to accept the mortality of his beloved horse.

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