Directed by Béla Tarr
Written by Béla Tarr
The Turin Horse is Hungarian director Béla Tarr’s first film since 2007. Working with frequent co-writer László Krasznahorkai, but without a novel as their source material for the first time in over a decade, Tarr uses the tale of philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche’s horse as prologue for a despondent film in his signature long takes.
As the story goes and as Tarr’s own voiceover tells us in the beginning of the film, Nietzsche saw a horse being beaten. He ran to protect it, throwing his arms around the animal. For two days following
The entire film is composed of perhaps 30 shots, and the black and white cinematography, from the gorgeous opening of horse-and-rider, plunges The Turin Horse into a stark fairy-tale atmosphere that seeks to transcend the boundaries of pure narrative. While the focus is certainly on the everyday – Tarr shows four different angles of the two eating potatoes, a routine that has special significance in the end – it would be a mistake to call this a (neo-)neo-realist work. The Turin Horse is far less a social commentary, indeed it is nearly devoid of social interaction and dialogue, than it is existential rumination.
As in any Tarr film, the progression here is slow and slight. The long takes, impossible to ignore yet almost equally impossible to single out, and the
The deterioration and despondence prevalent in the film become even more so when the protagonists gradually lose what little they have. The ending, desolate and daunting, serves as treatise to a certain type of meaninglessness: what is life worth if a horse can be beaten? Why should husband and daughter survive when there’s nothing over that hill?