Tuesday, 24 January 2012
The Turin Horse 
In his final offering as a filmmaker, Hungarian maestro Bela Tarr has created a movie that is so complex, layered and rich, structurally and tonally, that one must put in some efforts in order to appreciate its power and beauty. This profound, minimalistic, quietly observant and deeply philosophical work is a bleak and distressing examination of pain and suffering; yet, quite oddly, Tarr imbued the film with an understated sense of humanism amidst all the gloom and despair. In Turin on 3rd January 1889, as the opening voiceover instructs us, Friedrich Nietzsche witnessed the flogging of a horse by its driver for refusing to move, upon which the German philosopher intervened by throwing his arms around the stubborn animal. This incident is said to have deeply impacted Nietzsche, but unfortunately no one knows what happened to the horse, and this is essentially what Tarr attempts at. He extrapolates till five days after that incident, and thus we get to meet an aged farmer and his daughter who are struggling to eke out some form of survival despite their poverty-stricken lives – more so since their horse is refusing to even eat, leave alone work. With the harsh weather outside their home which is located at the middle of nowhere, what with relentless blizzard and biting cold, their world couldn’t get any more desolate. The film opens with a bravura long-take where we are placed right in front of the nose of the tired-looking horse, with an ominous organ-based background score further accentuating the mood – and this trend continues till the end as the movie is shot using slightly more than a couple of dozen takes. Silently roving cameras are used to capture the mundane and cyclical lives of the two characters (one can easily observe the arduous gruel that the two actors, especially the lady, had to endure while enacting their roles). Stunning B/W photography made Tarr’s masterful swansong look achingly beautiful despite its fatalistic vision.
Director: Bela Tarr
Genre: Drama/Philosophical Drama/Family Drama