Tuesday, 18 September 2012

The Turin Horse.

The unwelcoming countryside portrayed in Tarr's latest film.

In Turin on 3rd January 1889, Friedrich Nietzsche steps out of the doorway of number six, Via Carlo Albert. Not far from him, the driver of a hansom cab is having trouble with a stubborn horse. Despite all his urging, the horse refuses to move, whereupon the driver loses his patience and takes his whip to it. Nietzsche comes up to the throng and puts an end to the brutal scene, throwing his arms around the horse’s neck, sobbing. His landlord takes him home, he lies motionless and silent for two days on a divan until he mutters the obligatory last words, and lives for another ten years, silent and demented, cared for by his mother and sisters. We do not know what happened to the horse.

The scaggy horse that allegedly  lead to Nietzsche breakdown. 
These are the introductory words at the beginning of Béla Tarr’s latest, and rumoured to be his last film. The Turin Horse (2011) begins it’s narrative directly after these events and tells the story of an elderly man, the hansom cab driver, who has lost the use of one arm, his daughter and a bedraggled horse. They live in some of the most inhospitable countryside you could ever imagine and seem to do little more than drink two glasses of alcohol for breakfast, eat boiled potatoes with their fingers for dinner, fetch water, clean their bowls, chop wood, feed the horse and sleep, saying very little in the process.

Looking at a lamp for twenty minutes is not the most exciting cinema!
This apocalyptic black and white study of poverty and hardship is the most soporific movie I have ever seen. Shot and filmed in Hungary it consists of 146 minutes of static long shots, which continue well after our characters have left the scene and sometimes when the screen is dark.  Said to be the director’s most assessable film I dread to think what the others must be like! Its not really a film to enjoy and to say it’s a bit of a marathon watch is certainly an understatement; in fact it’s more like a endurance test than a movie. Unless you’ve got the patience of a saint give Mr Tarr’s movie a miss.

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