The Turin Horse 2011 ★★★★★

The Turin Horse is now on Netflix. Now The Turin Horse is on Netflix. On Netflix now, The Turin Horse. Here is what I wrote about it for my weekly column "This Week On Demand". It's now on Netflix (US). You now have no excuse to not watch it.

Since cementing his signature style of minimal cuts, languid pacing, and monochrome photography with 1988’s Damnation, Béla Tarr has given us some of the greatest cinematic achievements of the last 25 years. He claims The Turin Horse to be his last film, his thoughts on the world now apparently all spoken. The howling winds of the film’s soundscape are as unrelenting as Tarr’s bleakness, his story that of a poor farmer and his daughter whose livelihood is threatened when their horse refuses to work or eat. Unfolding over just thirty shots set to the tune of Mihály Víg’s soul-shattering leitmotif, The Turin Horse is a cruelly frank depiction of life, stripped of all its frills and exposed for the recurrent procession of mindless routines that it is. Such bare, brutal, brilliant honesty is rarely captured on film; Tarr’s camera boggles the mind with its artful grace, rendering all poetic with its unflinching gaze. This is not just the best film of 2012, but among the greatest ever made.

12 Comments

  • Ah! This is why Netflix and I are best friends. I have not seen a Bela Tarr film. Is this a good one to start with?

  • @Colin

    It was my first Tarr film and I loved it. It's all really dependent on your personal taste. I do warn that Turin Horse is a very tough film to watch with a grueling pace, but if you can get into the subtext of it all, it's a very rewarding watch, even if it isn't very pleasant.

  • I know of quite a few people who watched this before seeing any of his other stuff and absolutely loved it, even though it's not his most accessible, truth be told. Maybe because it was my own starting point, I think Werckmeister Harmonies is the best intro to his work if you can get hold of it. But if not I'd say it's okay to start on this one; you'll either like the style or you won't, having seen other things won't really change the reaction.

  • Yeah, since I joined letterboxd and became aware of all the praise, I did a little searching, and it's damn near impossible to find Werckmeister Harmonies. I'd prefer to start there, but netflix is a-calling!

  • Ah, but is it on LoveFILM?

    If it isn't then I feel I may have chosen the wrong service. Anyway, I may mentally prepare to see this film by watching either Werckmeister Harmonies or Satantango. That's probably a good excuse to rewatch one of those films though.

  • Very excited to watch this! People who have seen this has even named it the best film of the year, plus it is Béla Tarr's final film.

    Is this your favorite film of the year, so far?

  • @ACEZ Absolutely my film of the year. Recently made a top 100 films list and it ranked fifth there, so it's fair to say I like it quite a bit.

    @Jonny From what little I know of it, LoveFILM seems to trump Netflix UK. The selection in the latter is pretty restricted, though it's improving. Netflix US I haven't a bad word to say about though, so many gems in it and more added every week. Adore it. Oh, and any excuse is a good excuse to rewatch a Tarr movie.

  • Colin, I got Werckmeister Harmonies from amazon uk for about $8 Canadian a few months ago. It's available here for around 7 pounds.

  • I take it you have Netflix US then? If so, how is that possible? If not, then ignore this comment!

  • I use a VPN, Hotspot Shield. Routes you through a US server with the flick of a switch, your Netflix account behaves just as though you were in America (though for some reason you're still not allowed the queuing facility). I understand there are other ways to do it with consoles, but I know nothing of them.

  • Only 30 shots? :O

    I just bought it on Amazon. Can't wait.

  • It's extraordinary, the complexity of the shots is mind-boggling. I can't imagine how painfully difficult it must have been to get them all right, but I guess that tells you how dedicated Tarr and his team are to this style.

Please to comment.