The Turin Horse

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Bla Tarr's purportedly final film begins with a voiceover relating the apocryphal story of Friedrich Nietzsche's life-changing encounter with the eponymous equine—the German philosopher supposedly threw his arms around the animal after witnessing its beating, then fell into a ten-year period of silence. After this, Tarr takes us on another of his expertly filmed, often lugubrious yet still overwhelming journeys into the depths of despair. The stripped-down story is set at a remote, constantly wind-swept farm where the horse and its owners—a morose farmer and his attentive daughter—play out a doom-laden drama: The horse refuses to work; the water well runs dry; visits by a pessimistic neighbor and some marauding Gypsies portend something terrible on the horizon. What will it take before the characters' already-fragile will to live flames out like the oil lamps that suddenly refuse to work? Tarr fans will bow before the Euro autuer's pitch-black last testament, but it's not likely to win many converts.—KU

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New York Film Festival 2011

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