Recently, I've become aware that certain films are able to transcend the medium by being completely self-assured in their atmospheres…
The Turin Horse
1889. German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche witnessed the whipping of a horse while traveling in Turin, Italy. He tossed his arms around the horse's neck to protect it then collapsed to the ground. In less than one month, Nietzsche would be diagnosed with a serious mental illness that would make him bed-ridden and speechless for the next eleven years until his death. But whatever did happen to the horse? This film, which is Tarr's last, follows up this question in a fictionalized story of what occurred. The man who whipped the horse is a rural farmer who makes his living taking on carting jobs into the city with his horse-drawn cart. The horse is old and in very poor health, but does its best to obey its master's commands. The farmer and his daughter must come to the understanding that it will be unable to go on sustaining their livelihoods. The dying of the horse is the foundation of this tragic tale.
The wind blows.
We watch a moving world. We do not move ourselves.
We are Pygmalion in reverse. Our daily routine is the chisel, turning us to stone.
We wait. We ignore. We transform.
The wind blows.
It sucks our breath, it drowns our words.
Actions speak louder. Actions can match the wind.
Nature versus routine. An eternal battle to wear away our stone facade.
Both with the same goal, reward, curse. Stone or dust.
Winner signaled by brief panic, then stone or dust.
The wind blows.
I'd like to place a reservation on my rating for The Turin Horse for now. Béla Tarr is a director I've long been wanting to experience,…
Me: So Mr. Tarr, what exactly is your film The Turin Horse about?
Bela Tarr: Ze film is about ze futility and meaninglessness of life. Man is but animal, a beast of burden meant to be suffering, and zen die. Zayr is no God. Zayr is no after life. Happiness is nozthing.
Bela Tarr drops the mic and exits stage left leaving the audience perplexed and stunned. There is no letting up from an auteur with such a determined vision, looking at the drudgery of life's routine also proving to be a fitting curtain call to his career.
He imagines what happened to a beaten horse said to have influenced the depression that led to Nietzsche's death. The dense atmosphere of the film links itself to the weighty existential musings of the philosopher creating a far reaching parable. God Is Dead in this ferociously angry land where the sun never shines and the wind batters through the soul.
It is a beautiful film to look at offering no hiding place for the…
This is a film of the elements.
Between the constant wind, the need for water, the dirt and mud, and the light of small, flickering flames, this film is the sum total of reality. In the midst of all of these is the aether, the fifth element that controls movement and light. In this case, the aether is the camera, which moves fluidly about our sparse subjects and observes, yet also commands their fates in a metatextual way. The aether is Tarr's storytelling.
The wind is the uncontrollable power that sweeps away everything. It is the horse's refusal to work and the inevitability of the end. It is constant, grating, and brutal, and it drives those who attempt to move…
This is one of those cases where my rating is for the merits of the film and not my preferences. As beautiful as this film is, I could only recommend it to those who are particularly interested in seeing the daily routines and harshness of 19th Century country living, or to serious fans of Tarkovskiy, who are used to slow long shots where not much happens on the screen.
The Turin Horse.
It is gorgeous. Every shot is one of the most beautiful photographs you will ever see.
It sounds beautiful. The score and the harsh wind are almost indistinguishable, both playing the same melody.
The art direction is perfect. Every single dented pot, every crack in the wall, every…
More an experience than a film, Béla Tarr's The Turin Horse is one of the bleakest and most depressing pieces of art I have ever encountered. And at the same time it is one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen.
Tarr's film builds on a thought, a musing (taken from the film's synopsis): 1889. German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche witnessed the whipping of a horse while traveling in Turin, Italy. He tossed his arms around the horse's neck to protect it then collapsed to the ground. In less than one month, Nietzsche would be diagnosed with a serious mental illness that would make him bed-ridden and speechless for the next eleven years until his death. But whatever did…
His simplest since his early work. A familiar Tarr shot (a character looking out the window) is given new meaning. Putting them dead center to stare out into the abyss makes it explicit that we are doing the same and the point through all these movies was to ask how to find hope in a self-destructive world. The answer seems to be found in people, but as the ending famously suggests, maybe there just isn't an answer. I'm oversimplifying here, but this is Sátántangó just shorter and more defeated, so I'd rather take that film as his grand statement. Thanks for all those beautiful stories.
Professor - "Shakespeare's Othello depicts a paradigm shift..."
Student - "Uh, I thought it was about love and jealousy."
About "The Turin Horse", I have read many long and interesting posts, which I have no desire to compete with. If these posts are sincere and not just artificial culture masturbation, the film's impact becomes even more earthshaking and important. To bring forth so many disparate interpretations, must have entertained Béla Tarr immensely.
Personally I experience "The Turin Horse" as a very lengthy twelve-bar- blues. Impossible to rate. In a weight class for itself.
I can't rate this movie. I'm not very familiar with Béla Tarr and this film doesn't make me want to explore his universe. With nearly no dialogue during its 146 minutes runtime, The Turin Horse is an experience I will probably never forget. Not because I was touched, but because I've never seen anything like this.
We follow a farmer during a very boring week. A week just like every week of his life. This is an eventless film, but not in a bad way. It never felt slow and I did enjoy the cinematography. Every shot looked beautiful. But is this even a movie? I don't know. It is art, but not necessarily film art. Tarr has created a movie that is trying very hard to not be a movie.
EDIT: Okay, this lands somewhere around 4 stars actually. It's a great film.
*Minor, Minor Spoilers*
The Turin Horse is Hungarian director Bela Tarr's last film. Clocking in at almost 2 1/2 hours, it is composed of only 30 long takes. The first word is only spoken 27 minutes in. One might call this movie Tarr's definitive work, and they wouldn't be wrong. The movie uses its long takes and depiction of mundane activities to show what the director calls "the heaviness of human existence". From cooking potatoes to collecting water from the well, one might assume that there is not much in the way of plot in this movie. However, through the limited dialogue, the titular horse and the bleakness of the world itself Tarr creates a film that left me speechless.…
Maybe it's naive of me to venture into the world of Béla Tarr with his most recent, and also possibly final work, A Tornói Ló (or The Turin Horse as it is known as in English and also what I will refer to it in this post). IMDB describes this film as being about "A rural farmer is forced to confront the mortality of his faithful horse" something I didn't quite pick up from the film; there was something about Nietzsche and then there was a storm and there was also potatoes.
The Turin Horse is not the film you want to pick for date night. It's a bleak, drawn out and incredibly slow story of a father and his…
Béla Tarr's starkest feature to date begins with an unnamed narrator recounting a central episode in the life of Friedrich Nietzsche. Shortly after he achieved enlightenment through his philosophy, the 45-year-old writer witnessed a peddler beating his horse; the sight so overwhelmed Nietzsche that he stopped the man in his action, embraced the horse, and wept. Several days later, Nietzsche would be diagnosed with mental illness and retreat to the care of his mother and sisters, with whom he'd remain for the last ten years of his life. This anecdote, it should be noted, contains more plot than anything that follows in THE TURIN HORSE. The film proceeds as a gradual shutting down, ridding itself of detail and ultimately momentum,…
Béla Tarr’s starkest and most minimal feature starts by placing the story in a cryptic historical context. An unnamed narrator recounts a crucial episode in the life of Friedrich Nietzsche: after achieving enlightenment through his philosophy, the 45-year-old writer witnessed a man beating his horse; he was so overwhelmed by the sight that he stopped the man in his action, embraced the horse, and wept. Several days later, Nietzsche would be diagnosed with mental illness; he would return to the care of his mother and sisters and live the remaining ten years of his life in a near-catatonic state.
It’s worth retelling the anecdote at length because it contains more plot than anything that follows in THE TURIN HORSE. The…
Considering that it's a two and a half hour movie composed of 30 shots and has less than 1000 words of spoken dialogue (most of which isn't all that scintillating), it's amazing how propulsive Tarr's swan song is. Partly it's the visuals, which are so stark that any movement or detail instantly takes on dynamic qualities, but his entire vision is captivating. It's apocalyptic and bleak, and it's hard not to stare into the void when the void is so uncompromising.
Nietzsche: "Hmm, you think I look bad... You shoulda seen what happened to the other guy..."
Cabman: "Oh, you think I look bad? You shoulda seen what happened to the horse!"
Like a deadly serious episode of Courage the Cowardly Dog, a family of three contends with the drudgery of life in a desolate place. We as the audience get to experience this drudgery in (nearly) real-time. I read that there are only 30 shots in this entire 2.5 hour film, and I totally believe it. You *feel* every one of them.