A Potpourri of Vestiges Review
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|The Turin Horse (2011) -
A Torinói ló - By
Our Rating: 9.5
IMDb Ratings: 7.9
Cast: János Derzsi, Erika Bók, Mihály Kormos
Country: Hungary | France | Germany | Switzerland | USA
Language: Hungarian | German
Runtime: 146 min
Color: Black and White
The Turin Horse, Tarr’s prime focus is not on portraying the eventuality of death—which he leaves it to
his viewers' imagination—but is rather on capturing the monotonous drudgery associated with
human life. Béla Tarr says, “We just wanted to see how difficult and terrible
it is when every day you have to go to the well and bring the water, in summer,
in winter... all the time. The daily repetition of the same routine makes it
possible to show that something is wrong with their world. It’s very simple and
pure.” Death is a certainty that none can defy and yet we deliberately live in
ignorance without giving any consideration to the eventual dooms that awaits us
all. This consistency of life is seldom touched in cinema and that’s where The
Turin Horse excels as a remarkable work of cinema. In The Turin Horse, the master and his
daughter, who live in a remote, dilapidated farmhouse, are not symbols of human
hope for survival, but are embodiments of human despondence that has crept into
their systems through years of relentless struggle against their fate and
mother nature which has not only lacerated them physically but has also
scourged them mentally. It’s seems that the fate of the master and his daughter
is inexplicably tied to that of the horse—a gritty, faithful beast which, after
having served its masters day in and day out for years, has finally reached a
stage where it is no longer good enough to fulfill their quotidian requirements.
The incessant gale that blows across the arid landscape serves to testify the
inexorability of the notorious forces of nature in humbling their greatest
adversary: human. In The Turin Horse, we witness the treacherous forces of
nature casting a rattling blow to both the human and the equine resolve alike.
the Hungarian auteur has called it quits primarily because of being
disconcerted by the growing commercial trends in cinema that has transformed the
medium into a market which imposes censorship on moviemakers robbing them of
their creative freedom and also because of his grave fear of repeating himself
he has left behind a great legacy for the next generation of filmmakers.
However, the good news is that Tarr would continue to guide the young upcoming
moviemakers in their endeavors to serve the medium. Tarr will be running an
academic film course at the University of Split, Croatia which, according to
Tarr, will serve to be a kind of laboratory where people can work and create
together. The three-year course will intake 16 international students in its
first year and will feature the likes of Jim Jarmusch, Atom Egoyan, Tilda Swinton, Fred Kelemen and Jonathan Rosenbaum as lecturers.
Through the medium of The Turin Horse, Béla Tarr portrays the grim picture of the world that owing to human
exploitation is on the brink of annihilation. The Turin Horse despite having
echoes of Bergman, Bresson and Tarkovsky has a typical, bizarre outlook—augmented by minimal use of dialogue—that one
can only associate with Tarr’s peculiar style of moviemaking. The Turin Horse’s
apocalyptic themes bear a striking similarity to Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner while the pitiful state of movie’s characters inexplicably
reminds one of the unnamed narrator in Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Notes from Underground. Their futile struggle for survival brings to one's mind the
futility of the fishing adventure undertaken by
Santiago in Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Manand the Sea. Mihály Vig's requiem-like orchestral score, in great unison with the dramatic howling sound of the incessant gale, portends to the impending doom that awaits the
movie’s hapless characters—a symbolism for the Armageddon that awaits us all on
as we continue to tread the paths of destruction. The Turin Horse's hypnotic, evocative black and white cinematography is first-rate and more than makes up for the sparsity of dialogue. The apocalyptic monologue delivered by the paranoid guest who visits the old master's farmhouse in want of Palinka also alludes to the self-destructive ways of the humans. The arrival of the gypsies, whom the old master unceremoniously drives away, marks the beginning of the end for the father-daughter dyad.
Overall, The Turin Horse with its eerie, melancholic and stark motifs serves to be one of the most uniquely refreshing experiences of our time. The Turin Horse is a fine example of auteristic mastery demonstrated by an artist extraordinaire who's at the height of his powers. The movie is definitely
not meant for those who look up to cinema as a mere mode of entertainment, for
they are bound to be engulfed in boredom of the highest order. Those who are
accustomed to Tarr’s profound, albeit peculiar style of moviemaking are ought
to be delighted by the Hungarian master’s swan song. Also, those who are not
averse to experimentation in cinema and are willing to delve deep enough to be
able to experience the new highs and lows of cinema will be rewarded to the
fullest. The Turin Horse is a great means to get acquainted to Béla Tarr’s
oeuvre before exploring his more intimate works like Sátántangó (1994)
The Turin Horse is a 2011 motion-picture written and directed by renowned Hungarian auteur Béla Tarr. The screenplay of The Turin Horse is co-written by Tarr’s long time collaborator László Krasznahorkai while Ágnes Hranitzky is movie’s co-director. Dubbed as Béla Tarr’s apparent swansong (as Tarr himself has expressed that he intends it to be his last film), The Turin Horse was premiered at the 2011 Berlin International Film Festival where it won the Jury Grand Prix award. The movie stars János Derzsi, Erika Bók and Mihály Kormos in the lead roles. Vintage Tarr, The Turin Horse is shot in monochrome by Tarr's regular cinematographer Fred Kelemen, with only 30 distinct shots, most of which last for more than five minutes, spread over a runtime of about 150 minutes.
The Turin Horse begins with a text narrative describing an event dating back to 3rd January, 1889 in Turin, Italy, wherein a German Philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche, on witnessing the brutal whipping of a stubborn horse by its old, disgruntled master, makes a conscious effort to protect the horse from the merciless assault by putting his arms around its neck before himself succumbing to a state of sustained dementia that eventually consumes him a decade later. The fate of the horse, however, remains a mystery. The Turin Horse speculates, in a six-day-long sequence, what might have actually happened to the horse, its master and his daughter subsequent to the event described in the narrative. In the six-day sequence that’s presented in form of six chapters, Tarr captures their solitary, austere and mundane lives by fixating on the tedium of events that constitute their daily routine: the girl goes to the well to fetch water, dresses and undresses her father, cooks potatoes, eats them (without adding salt or spices) with his father who tops it up with Palinka—a traditional Hungarian fruit brandy. Tarr eloquently refers to it as the “heaviness of human existence”. The stark manner in which Tarr prophesies the eventual doom of his hapless characters almost has a poetical touch to it—a characteristic that’s highly reminiscent of Shakespeare’s King Lear.
|The Turin Horse: The Old Master Retreats|
|The Turin Horse: Master's Daughter Attends to his Father|
|The Turin Horse: Old Master's Daughter Goes to the Well|
|Old Master and his Daughter Savor Boiled Potatoes|
The Turin Horse is only the first Béla Tarr movie that I have had the privilege of watching. And, I must admit that it is unlike anything I have ever experienced before, a devastating experience that shall stay with me for the rest of my life. The Hungarian auteur is ubiquitously renowned for highly unconventional, metaphysical works which being high on abstract symbolism, à la Tarkovsky, are driven by spontaneity rather than the plot. Like Tarkovsky, Tarr too relies on long continuous shots to impart detail—a trait that has helped him gain mastery over mise en scène, more commonly referred to as the articulation of cinematic space. In Tarr’s existentialistic world there’s no place for the ramblings of the divine. A man must come to terms with the harsh realities of his mortal existence and must not hope for any external intervention to bail him out of his misery or to help him attain salvation, for the omen is omnipotent and omnipresent and there’s no escape from the maw of endless darkness. The sooner he accepts his fate the lesser would be the extent of his suffering. Despite this axiomatic consistency, Tarr’s characters have a strong sense of dignity that doesn’t let them give up until the very end. In The Turin Horse, the father-daughter dyad despite realizing fairly quickly that their doom is nigh—from the very moment the horse refuses to take orders—still continue with their hopeless struggle until the very end. In its constant refusal to eat the food offered by its masters the incapacitated horse too demonstrates a sense of heroism that one generally expects from Tarr’s characters.
|Hungarian Master Filmmaker Bela Tarr|
|The Turin Horse: The Arrival of Gypsies|
|The Turin Horse: The Paranoid Visitor|
|The Turin Horse: The Old Master Drinks his daily doze of Palinka|
Readers, please feel free to share your opinion by leaving your comments. As always your feedback is highly appreciated!
The Turin Horse Trailer
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