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Showing 1-10 of 17 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 40 reviews
on October 3, 2013
I just finished watching this for the second time. The first time I basically threw myself into it, suspended disbelief, tried to get into its flow and pace, and didn't analyze it too much. One of my favorite directors is Tarkovsky and I'm not at all averse to slowly-unfolding, almost static films; so the slow pace of The Turin Horse didn't bother me. I found the cinematography to be excellent and there were some moving poetical moments; but the emphasis on repetitive daily life routines got to be pretty tiresome, which was aggravated by the ever-present minimalist musical score, a single 16-bar theme that was repeated over and over.

The second time I watched the film I paid closer attention to the diatribe of the neighbor who comes over to borrow some brandy. He speaks from a somewhat Nietzschean viewpoint, except that according to him God plays a role in things. He seems to be saying that the Nietzschean noble natures, those persons "beyond good and evil", basically capitulated and handed the world over to the corrupt and debased. So we're left with a disintegrating world which is the result of ignoble human nature, pushed along by a God that may be vengeful or may be equally ignoble and corrupt, it's a bit hard to tell.

I found that this pardoxical message added quite a bit to my appreciation of the film. I was even able to find some value in the portrayal of the dull routines of the characters inasmuch as I saw them contrasted against the almost cosmic drama which was being played out behind them in the background. While the world is falling apart, the characters are oblivious to it, focused instead on their repetitive, almost bestially numb, routines. Oddly enough, the beasts (the horse, even the woodworms in the house) have more of a sense of this crisis than the humans do.

However, while I can better appreciate the role played by daily routine, I found I just didn't have enough patience to watch the characters go through all that again: getting the horse out, putting the horse away, getting dressed, getting undressed, cooking potatoes, eating potatoes, getting water from the well, throwing away the wastewater--I feel like I "got" the idea the first time I watched the film and didn't want to re-experience the tiresomeness of it all. So, I'm afraid, I fast-forwarded through a lot of the film the second time. I may watch particular scenes of it again in the future because I think there are some fine artistic moments in them, but I don't think I need to relive the tedium of much of what's portrayed here. I understand that this tedium may have been part of the director's intention, but I don't see the value in returning to it repeatedly.
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on December 16, 2013
Hungarian screenwriter, producer and director Béla Tarr`s ninth feature film which he co-directed with Hungarian film editor Ágnes Hranitzky and co-wrote with Hungarian writer László Krasznahorkai, premiered In competition at the 61st Berlin International Film Festival in 2011, was screened in the Masters section at the 36th Toronto International Film Festival in 2011, was shot on location in Hungary and is a Hungarian production which was produced by Hungarian producer Gábor Téni, French producers Marie Pierre Macia and Juliette Lepoutre, Swiss producer Ruth Waldburger and German producer Martin Hagemann. It tells the story about a middle-aged horse owner named Ohlsdorfer who lives in a house on a farm nearby a town in Turin, Italy with his daughter and a horse. A few days after having been stopped in the nearby town by Friedrich Nietzsche where he was whipping his horse because it didn`t want to move, a windstorm bursts up and the man`s horse becomes increasingly resistant and will neither move nor eat.

Distinctly and precisely directed by Hungarian filmmaker Béla Tarr, this quietly paced fictional tale which is narrated mostly from the two main characters` viewpoints, draws a dense and ritualistic portrayal of six days in the lives of a father who mostly sits on a chair looking out of a window and his daughter who assists him getting dressed, goes to their well every single day and makes them dinner. While notable for its distinct and atmospheric milieu depictions, sterling and low-keyed cinematography by German cinematographer Fred Kelemen, production design, costume design by costume designer Breckl János and use of sound, colors and light, this narrative-driven story about human existence where two isolated people who are living a repetitive lifestyle and who have been living together for many years are waiting for the weather and their horse to become better, depicts three interrelated and internal studies of character and contains a poignant and timely score by Hungarian composer Mihály Vig.

This observational, austere and poetic drama triangle which is set in Italy during a spring in the late 19th century and where the similarities between two human beings and a horse becomes more and more apparent, their lives more and more challenging and hope increasingly intangible as the wind grows stronger and stronger, is impelled and reinforced by its stringent narrative structure, subtle character development, rhythmic continuity, distinct atmosphere, silent and contemplating characters, long and philosophical speech, describing voice-over narration, dark and mysterious undertones, the internally and externally expressionistic acting performances by Hungarian actor János Derzsi and Hungarian actress Erika Bók and the fine acting performance by Hungarian actor Mihály Kormos. An existentialistic, cinematographic and majestic statement from an accomplished auteur filmmaker which gained, among other awards, the Grand Jury Prize at the 61st Berlin Film Festival in 2011.
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on August 2, 2012
Is it possible to depict existential emptiness without resorting to pretentious "Art Film" trickery? Apparently so, as writer/director Bela Tarr proves in this masterful meditation on a footnote in philosophical history: The moment when Frederick Nietzsche went mad after seeing a horse being beaten in Turin. Famously filmed in only 30 long slow takes, this movie makes no concessions to our restless and hyperactive 21st century consciousness. It consists almost entirely of the dull and quotidian activities of an old man, his daughter, and his horse during six days. We see them eating their boiled potatoes, fetching water, harnessing the horse, etc. in almost total silence. Even the poor horse seems to be depressed. As all this began, I found myself idly (and perhaps maliciously) wondering what a great parody Wood Allen or Mel Brooks could make of all this. Then something curious happened - I began to feel for these people as they stared endlessly out their window while the wind howled outside. Perhaps it was the music - mournful, repetitive, and played by something sounding like folk instruments - or the marvelously atmospheric B&W photography. Something got to me. Later that night, the Old Man, his daughter, and the horse actually visited me in my dreams. As cynical as I am, it seems that I had been deeply affected by this film. I am reminded of the famous quote from one of Samuel Beckett's novels: "I can't go on... I'll go on." Make no mistake, this movie is not entertainment and it is not for everyone. But if you open your mind to it, you will find a singular and profound vision.
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on August 20, 2012
Bela Tarr is famous as one of the ultimate love-it-or-hate-it directors. Either you like ridiculously long takes, sumptuous black and white cinematography and bleak existentialism, or you don't. For my money, The Turin Horse is his greatest film to date.

Werckmeister Harmonies is probably the best entry point for Tarr's work, since it's got an accessible plot, a likeable main character and some beautiful visual metaphors. Other Tarr fans may prefer Damnation for its specific commentaries on life in Communist Hungary. But The Turin Horse is Tarr's sparest and most elemental film to date, and a tough pill to swallow.

The film's frame intro involving Nietzsche is window dressing, only serving to explain why Tarr made the film he did. The film itself is incredibly simple: An aging man and his adult daughter live in a one-room house on a farm in the middle of nowhere with nothing more than a well, an oven and a horse. Suddenly the horse refuses to work or even move. Soon it refuses to eat. The man and his daughter must confront the fact that if their horse won't work, they are doomed to starve.

That's the entire plot. The film follows a week in the lives of this small family, as they follow the same routine with little variation: The father wakes up and the daughter helps him dress. He tries in vain to get the horse to work, gives up and goes back to bed. The daughter fetches water from the well. They have dinner, which consists of one boiled potato.

All the while, a windstorm whirls and pounds outside, and the house serves as the family's respite from the howling gales. I like to joke that Tarr films the most gorgeous wall plaster you will ever see, and there's some truth to that. The textures of the walls, the floor, the food, and the dirt are extremely vivid. The sound design is also so perfect that you will feel battered by that wind. It's such a relief when the door closes and the sound of the wind instantly dies down, leaving you and the characters safe in their home, as bare as it is.

This is clearly a parable, as the three characters present three different coping strategies for a life on the knife's edge of survival. The horse has simply given up and accepted the end. The father will never give up, and rages against the finality of death, sometimes in the absence of good sense. The daughter is pragmatic, keeping an eye on her father to make sure he doesn't write checks that his aging body can't cash, and accepting that death is never that far away. Sometimes outside influences show up in the form of visitors, symbolically offering their own answers.

The family listens to these visitors, but quickly concludes that nothing will improve their situation except meeting it head on. As a result there is hardly any dialog in the film. When you're starving, what is there to say except what is required? Little details hint at the character's lives outside the film, but Tarr's focus remains laser sharp.

The Turin Horse is harshly, unremittingly bleak. But in its purity, strength of purpose, and perfect execution, I found something incredibly uplifting. I feel that a great film is never depressing, and nobody embodies that better than Bela Tarr. After all, any species that could produce art this powerful is worth saving, right?
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on February 18, 2017
Beautiful and poignant. This movies requires more than one viewing. It's very slow pace and relentless sound track are essential elements of the story.
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on December 10, 2016
Beautiful cinematography. Unconventional film narrative. Difficult to get through but perhaps worth the effort...
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on January 17, 2013
This moving feature begins with the contradictory nature of all epistemological assertions and proceeds to illustrate the meaninglessness of life and the futility of persistence. This examination of existential and nihilistic themes is manifested in beautiful cinematography and a brilliant musical accompaniment.
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on August 11, 2014
Nicely photographed. Existential angst, the human condition. The visit from the neighbor scene, longest speaking role in entire film, pertinent to the haves and have-nots so prominent in the news, but not responded to from our political and economic institutions.
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on November 1, 2016
A powerful film. Best film that I have ever seen.
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on February 4, 2016
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