Saturday, June 16, 2012

A Torinói ló / The Turin Horse (introduced by Béla Tarr)

HU/FR/DE/CH/US © 2011 TT Filmmuhely / Vega Film / Zero Fiction Film / Movie Partners in Motion Film. P: Gábor Téni. D: Béla Tarr. SC: Béla Tarr, László Krasznahorkai. DP: Fred Kelemen. M: Mihály Vig. S: Gábor Ifj. Erdélyi, Csaba Erös, János Csáki, István Pergel. ED: Ágnes Hranitzky. C: János Derzsi, Erika Bók, Mihály Kormos, Ricsi. 35 mm print source: Films Boutique with English subtitles. Viewed at Cinema Lapinsuu, Sodankylä (Midnight Sun Film Festival), Saturday, 16 June 2012.

Technical specs from the IMDb: Camera: Arriflex 535B - Film negative format: 35 mm - Cinematographic process: Spherical - Distribution format: 35 mm, Digital - Aspect ratio: 1.66:1

Velipekka Makkonen in the catalogue: "Before starting to shoot Turin Horse, Béla Tarr had decided it will be his last film. (It is, of course, a different matter whether this decision will hold.) It can therefore be argued whether the film should be considered his testament. In any case it is the most pessimistic of his films, and ends in a metaphor of the end of the world."

"The name Turin Horse comes from an experience recorded by Friedrich Nietzsche: he once saw a driver whip his horse mercilessly in Turin, intervened and saved the poor animal from further beating. The story where he describes the event was the last text he wrote before spending his remaining eleven years in a psychiatric hospital."

"Tarr’s regular screenwriter László Krasznahorkai sparked Tarr's interest in Nietzsche's story already before the making of Sátántangó by asking what happened to the horse afterwards, but it was not until much later that Tarr started working on a screenplay about the story together with Krasznahorkai."

"The film takes place in Hungary’s vast, windy plains and features – in addition to the horse – only three characters. The activities of two of them, an old father and his daughter living together in a bleak old house, are followed in great detail and in an almost minimalistic manner: their morning and evening chores, simple potato meals. The house is repeatedly visited by a guest who reads aloud a text that resembles Nietzsche’s story but is, in actuality, written by the screenwriter. The repeating plot elements create an almost hypnotic atmosphere. When the events, however, do proceed towards the inevitable but unexplainable mini-catastrophe it is felt as a tremendous shock. Amidst silence, a thunderstorm may become the end of the world."

"In an interview Tarr has related how, after he had found the scenery that corresponded with his vision, he had an entire old-style stone and timber house built there instead of a set, and how an old local man worked as his master builder."

"But how about the horse of the film’s title? Tarr says he rescued it in from a more or less similar fate as Nietzsche’s horse would have had. Making the film cheered the horse up to such an extent that it became pregnant immediately afterwards in the respectable horse-age of eight years." (Velipekka Makkonen)

AA: There is tremendous force in the images of this movie, from the beginning to the end. Béla Tarr has a unique gift of creating a dynamic composition, an almost explosive tension in his shots.

The characters: a man, his granddaughter and a horse in an austere house with a stable and a well in the wind-swept pusta. A neighbour comes by to buy a bottle of palinka and to talk about the end of days. A group of gypsies appear on the horizon to steal water and are driven away. Six days pass by with the same routine of feeding the horse, the granddaughter helping her granddad get dressed and undressed (one of his arms is lame), cooking two potatoes and eating them with bare hands, chopping wood, fetching water with a pail from the well, watching the incessant wind sweep the pusta through the window. The horsen begins to refuse to move or eat, the well runs dry, and the furnace, the gas lamps and the sun go dark. The man, the granddaughter and the horse leave the house but having had a glance over the hill they return.

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