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…
There's something mysterious and haunting and right in the way the insistently pulsing music (by Mihaly Vig), with its mournful strings, reacts with Bela Tarr's long and beautiful and bleak takes. (In fact I'm not sure the film would work with any other musical choice.) The black and white cinematography by Fred Kelemen is stunning and stark. "The Turin Horse" is a tale of two human beings (and the titular horse, of course) eking out an existence in a storm-blasted world. It's a very long and very, very slow film that got me on its wavelength almost from the beginning.
My very first Tarr film, I'm really glad I got to experience it in a theater. It was simultaneously brilliant, like fucking transcendent, and insufferably boring. The shots are gorgeous, and the constant wind is amazing, in terms of both feeling and within the diegesis, and it's just so utterly bleak. One of the most amazing parts for me was being in a dark theater and sitting in the dark, while the screen is black, as sounds still occur. That's part of what was so amazing for me, in terms of my experience, I can't think of a time where that's happened to me and it feels so strange and great.
It sometimes feels like a parody of an European arthouse film, and not in a good way: repetitive, dour, self-serious, misery-loving. The camerawork is gorgeous, but otherwise, this is not my cup of tea.
There are ways of dying that don't end in funerals. Types of death you can't smell.
Probably in the top 10 windiest movies ever. Top 20, at least.
The mundanity of human existence, filtered through the lens of the great Hungarian aetueur. The Turin Horse certainly won't be to everyone's liking, but for me, the rigidness that comes with Bela Tarr, is beautifully calibrated here. Each frame, as indelibly distinguished and stark as our own Nietzsche-ian existence.
This review reportedly contains spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Surely one of the grimmest films ever made, Béla Tarr's final film to date concerns two peasants who find the few material possessions they have slowly beginning to turn against them. The film raises many questions, most of which I doubt would sit well with a mainstream western audience.
Posted at my personal blog, Aesthetics of the Mind:
For six days, man and woman each eat a potato, and then dark silence overcomes them. Ritual figures deeply in Tarr’s observation of the death of God. Metonyms of the Lord, the horse will not eat, the wind will not blow, the water will not rise, the fire will not burn. Life stands still. God Is Dead.
99/100 – Masterful