The Turin Horse (15)

Film

Jnos Derzsi in The Turin Horse

Jnos Derzsi in The Turin Horse

Time Out rating:

<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>5</span>/5

User ratings:

<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>4</span>/5
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Time Out says

Posted: Mon Feb 21 2011

Never a prolific force, the Hungarian director Béla Tarr has declared that ‘The Turin Horse’ will be his last film. He has also suggested that the reason for hanging up his boots is apparent in the film – which makes ‘The Turin Horse’ even more of a glorious, terrifying mystery. It’s an epic portrait of drudging peasantry, set, biblically, over six days – and it is a film that drills into the core of your soul.

It begins with a prologue explaining how the philosopher Nietzsche witnessed a horse being beaten in Turin in 1889, immediately before his breakdown: ‘Of the horse, we know nothing,’ says the intro pointedly. Is this the story of that horse? Or is it simply a story of anonymous sufferers in a godless world living the sort of miserable, uncomprehending life that may have sent Nietzsche into a spin in the first place? We spend the rest of the film in the company of a grizzled, white-haired father (János Derzsi) and his equally taciturn adult daughter (Erika Bók), who live alone in wild countryside with only a tired horse for company. As the days go on, the howling wind grows louder, several interlopers ominously disrupt their routine and the light literally – and, we assume, metaphorically – begins to go out.

There are no direct answers, and the mastery of ‘The Turin Horse’ is that its meaning or meanings are there for the taking. Tarr works in mesmerising harmony with his cinematographer Fred Kelemen (shooting in long shots and velvety blacks) and composer Mihály Vig (adopting a hypnotic dirge that rises and falls with a sense of import). Together, they lead us magnetically through the routines of this austere pair – taking out the horse, fetching water, eating just one boiled potato each for dinner… It feels like the creation story in reverse – a terrible, unavoidable walk into the dark.

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Release details

Rated:

15

UK release:

Fri Jun 1, 2012

Duration:

155 mins

Cast and crew

Director:

Béla Tarr

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<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>0</span>/5

Average User Rating

3.8 / 5

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LiveReviews|18
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guy cumbo

Mesmerising. Through their bleak existence of everyday drudgery there was a weirdly comforting feeling watching this beautifully shot film. The moody lighting and rich blacks gave a feeling of warmth and depth. Sympathy was felt for the horse whose life consisted of pulling a cart then locked in the barn, but then looking to father & daughter whose existence wasn't any better, their highlight of the day was taking it in turns to look out of the window. Even the boiled potatoe lost its appeal towards the end.

guy cumbo

Mesmerising. Through their bleak existence of everyday drudgery there was a weirdly comforting feeling watching this beautifully shot film. The moody lighting and rich blacks gave a feeling of warmth and depth. Sympathy was felt for the horse whose life consisted of pulling a cart then locked in the barn, but then looking to father & daughter whose existence wasn't any better, their highlight of the day was taking it in turns to look out of the window. Even the boiled potatoe lost its appeal towards the end.

Alan Pavelin

I'm a Tarr junkie, and this is one of his best. Nobody (out of about 30) walked out, and it seemed, surprisingly, about an hour shorter than the actual length. Not quite up to the 5-star Satantango and Werckmeister Harmonies, but pretty good and utterly hypnotic.

Alan Pavelin

I'm a Tarr junkie, and this is one of his best. Nobody (out of about 30) walked out, and it seemed, surprisingly, about an hour shorter than the actual length. Not quite up to the 5-star Satantango and Werckmeister Harmonies, but pretty good and utterly hypnotic.

pano pliotis

cinematically stark and compelling. but a chore to sit through. it gives new meaning to the concept of "hardcore arthouse", and thts coming from me who generally likes arthouse movies. the movie would have benfitted by being editted down to at the most twothirds of its actual length.

pano pliotis

cinematically stark and compelling. but a chore to sit through. it gives new meaning to the concept of "hardcore arthouse", and thts coming from me who generally likes arthouse movies. the movie would have benfitted by being editted down to at the most twothirds of its actual length.

David S.

Agree completely that this is an art house film for cinema buffs. I gave it 5 stars for its overarching, uncompromising consistency of craft and vision, however unpleasant, and, yes, even boring, and the way the stark black and white imagery stays in your head. The movie is very "cinematic" in the manner in which you can play play it back in your memory rewind system almost frame by frame. Having said all that, I wouldn't label the film entertaining, wouldn't care to see it again, and wouldn't recommend it to most moviegoers.

David S.

Agree completely that this is an art house film for cinema buffs. I gave it 5 stars for its overarching, uncompromising consistency of craft and vision, however unpleasant, and, yes, even boring, and the way the stark black and white imagery stays in your head. The movie is very "cinematic" in the manner in which you can play play it back in your memory rewind system almost frame by frame. Having said all that, I wouldn't label the film entertaining, wouldn't care to see it again, and wouldn't recommend it to most moviegoers.

Alexander

This film is the best example I've come across of the relativity of time. Béla Tarr somehow manages to make two-and-a-half hours seem like two-and-a-half years. I was one of the few survivors to see the film; half the audience starved to death before the end,

Alexander

This film is the best example I've come across of the relativity of time. Béla Tarr somehow manages to make two-and-a-half hours seem like two-and-a-half years. I was one of the few survivors to see the film; half the audience starved to death before the end,

Rush

Found this movie too boring. Really, it's tiring to sit through. If I have to undergo so much torture to learn that seemingly profound lesson, then that's not my idea of a great movie.

Rush

Found this movie too boring. Really, it's tiring to sit through. If I have to undergo so much torture to learn that seemingly profound lesson, then that's not my idea of a great movie.

yelema

I think the film cannot be understood outside the biblical and only biblical context. It is a very refined, subtle, painfully subtle film where the director perhaps said more than he intended. I see Nietzsche's connection quite clearly.

yelema

I think the film cannot be understood outside the biblical and only biblical context. It is a very refined, subtle, painfully subtle film where the director perhaps said more than he intended. I see Nietzsche's connection quite clearly.

David Schneider

You know you are dealing with a pretty grim reality when the highlight of your day is hearing, "It's ready," and "it" turns out to be a single potato. The film is a walking contradiction in the sense that, on all cinematic levels, it is a stunning exercise in unrestrained minimalism

David Schneider

You know you are dealing with a pretty grim reality when the highlight of your day is hearing, "It's ready," and "it" turns out to be a single potato. The film is a walking contradiction in the sense that, on all cinematic levels, it is a stunning exercise in unrestrained minimalism