The Turin Horse (Bela Tarr, 2011)

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aox
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Re: The Turin Horse (Bela Tarr, 2011)

#101 Post by aox » Wed Feb 15, 2012 2:18 pm

Rsdio wrote:
aox wrote:My g/f couldn't make the screening of Werckmeister Harmonies last week, so this will be her first introduction to Tarr when we see it tomorrow night. I am hoping this isn't a huge mistake.
Obviously I don't know anything about your girlfriend but if she's anything like the Tarr virgins at the Leeds showing.. It's a huge mistake. I'm sure she's got better taste though.

Personally I don't think I'd dare to try to introduce Tarr into any relationship younger than about five years. Unless I wanted rid, of course.
Ha! We celebrated five years two weeks ago.

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Re: The Turin Horse (Bela Tarr, 2011)

#102 Post by MichaelB » Wed Feb 15, 2012 2:48 pm

I'm coming up to my tenth wedding anniversary, and there's no way in a billion gazillion years I'd expose my wife to Béla Tarr. Some things just aren't worth the hassle.

So when it opens theatrically, I'll be going with her predecessor instead - very much with her blessing.

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Re: The Turin Horse (Bela Tarr, 2011)

#103 Post by Matt » Wed Feb 15, 2012 2:55 pm

I will be attending the screening of The Turin Horse with my partner of 12.5 years, who shares my love of long, slow films. It's nice to watch movies with someone who agrees with you that the soup-eating scene in Police, Adjective could easily have been twice as long.

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Re: The Turin Horse (Bela Tarr, 2011)

#104 Post by zedz » Wed Feb 15, 2012 3:00 pm

Weird turn for this thread to take, but for the record I saw Satantango, Werckmeister Harmonies, The Man from London and The Turin Horse with my wife (well, Satantango was technically a date film) and know I'd never get away with going to a new Tarr without her!

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Re: The Turin Horse (Bela Tarr, 2011)

#105 Post by Highway 61 » Wed Feb 15, 2012 3:19 pm

I'm going to invite the girl I've been seeing to this. We've only been on a few dates. I realize it could be an absolute disaster, but I'm going to roll the dice. We bonded when she gave me a compilation of sixteenth-century music, so I don't think this is too far outside the mainstream for her. I know she loves Bergman and Kieslowski, enjoys Cronenberg—hopefully she'll be up for Tarr.

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Re: The Turin Horse (Bela Tarr, 2011)

#106 Post by cinemaguild » Wed Feb 15, 2012 4:32 pm

ando wrote:It's back at Lincoln Center til the 23rd.
It's also opening at the Cinema Village in NY this Friday, 2/17.

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Re: The Turin Horse (Bela Tarr, 2011)

#107 Post by skuhn8 » Fri Feb 17, 2012 4:22 am

MichaelB wrote:I'm coming up to my tenth wedding anniversary, and there's no way in a billion gazillion years I'd expose my wife to Béla Tarr. Some things just aren't worth the hassle.

So when it opens theatrically, I'll be going with her predecessor instead - very much with her blessing.
My wife, a Hungarian, knew enough about him to respond to my invitation to see 'Man from London' in the cinema with 'go f*#k yourself, I'm not going'.

Not to derail the discussion, but while we were working through our separation (after 10 years of marriage) we attended 'Blue Valentine' followed a month later by 'Melancholia' and then Mike Leigh's 'Another Week'; I had to laugh when she came out of the last one and quipped "We should really stop doing this".

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Re: The Turin Horse (Bela Tarr, 2011)

#108 Post by John Edmond » Fri Feb 17, 2012 4:58 am

Dimly trying to imagine taking a partner to see a Tarr film and failing. Still wince whenever I remember going on a date to see a Tsai Ming-Liang film.

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Re: The Turin Horse (Bela Tarr, 2011)

#109 Post by D_B » Sat Feb 18, 2012 2:47 am

Gee, people are talking more here about their girlfriends/wives than about the movie!

As for me - sigh. Satantango was the first Tarr film I saw and it blew me completely away.

I now wish I had seen Tarr's other films first, because I really do think I might enjoy them a lot more - but I just can't help but judge them against Satantango and find them falling short.

I DID like The Turin Horse, especially the first hour or so that sets things up. The first shot is absolutely AMAZING, a perfect embodiment of a kind of existential anguish in 'nothing' more than a man in a cart driving a horse. Tarr picks an opening angle to frame the horse and cart that is like nothing else I've ever seen, a wonderful example of how a great visual eye can bring something new to a subject that has been represented in art since horses were depicted pulling chariots.

The whole establishing of the routine of the horse driver and his daughter was great - although I was kind of mislead insofar as
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the (unavoidable) intimacy with which the daughter dresses the father - which at times he seemed to be kind of getting off on - created an expectation that there would be a revelation that there was something 'more' to it - which there wasn't.
While I did really like the building feeling of how just a few things going wrong for people living such marginal lives could lead to disaster, the whole metaphorical (or even religious?) angle the film takes on more and more in its second half kind of left me with a 'is that all there is?' feeling at the end.

One thing I miss in Tarr's non-Satantago films is the deadpan humor of that film. I have seen some people describe the daily potato-eating as comic, but while it was quite fascinating it did not strike me in any way shape or form as funny. What's funny about being on the verge of starvation?

OK, it was a LITTLE funny they
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only seemed to
eat half their potato and threw the rest out.
My reservations aside, there are many wonderful aspects to it and I hope it turns into some kind of art house success for Mr. Tarr.

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Re: The Turin Horse (Bela Tarr, 2011)

#110 Post by JakeB » Sat Feb 18, 2012 11:41 am

Existential cart driving and the disappointment that Bela didn't go for the incest angle... Something for the ''Rediculous' Customer & Critic Reviews' thread?

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Re: The Turin Horse (Bela Tarr, 2011)

#111 Post by DeusEx » Sat Feb 18, 2012 2:08 pm

RE potatoes: a friend I saw the movie with theorized that half a potato was all they could get through before they became too cold to eat. Not sure I buy it, but further investigation may shed some light on this.

RE incest: I understand where D_B is coming from. That angle is one that the film makes a vague gesture toward before (thankfully) abandoning it. In a way the movie sets up several lines of narrative desire that end up not going the way one would expect. That's probably largely the point, I gather.
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For what it's worth, it wasn't until the last 10 minutes or so that I decided this horse really wasn't going to meet Nietzsche after all.

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Re: The Turin Horse (Bela Tarr, 2011)

#112 Post by JakeB » Sat Feb 18, 2012 2:29 pm

Considering that it's set in Eastern Europe somewhere, I don't think the horse is supposed to be the actual 'Turin horse'.

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Re: The Turin Horse (Bela Tarr, 2011)

#113 Post by MichaelB » Sat Feb 18, 2012 2:35 pm

No, if you make the reasonable assumption that it's the literal Turin horse, you're left with the rather fundamental problem that
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the world didn't actually come to an end in 1889.

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Re: The Turin Horse (Bela Tarr, 2011)

#114 Post by D_B » Sat Feb 18, 2012 4:24 pm

JakeB wrote:Existential cart driving and the disappointment that Bela didn't go for the incest angle... Something for the ''Rediculous' Customer & Critic Reviews' thread?
I'm sorry to see people not putting the 'incest' angle under a spoiler format - but since you can't put spilled milk back in a bottle...

I was not necessarily 'hoping' for Tarr to let an incestuous relationship shoe to drop - but I WAS hoping for all the pieces of the film to add up to more than they did.
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It's almost like the film ending with a metaphysical apocalypse was a metaphor for the man and daughter's own decent into starvation,
but if this is the case, Tarr didn't do a good enough job grounding metaphor into the narrative (something IMHO Tarkovsky does brilliantly in Andre Rubelov).
JakeB wrote:Considering that it's set in Eastern Europe somewhere, I don't think the horse is supposed to be the actual 'Turin horse'.
My best guess is that it is the human condition (as Tarr sees it) that IS the Turin Horse and Tarr himself is the Nietzsche figure, so overwhelmed by despair about the tragic inability of people to rise above their own nature that he cannot continue on in his lifelong profession.

IMHO although there is a horse in the film the title is not to be taken literally. It all rather adds substance to his statement this is his last film.

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Re: The Turin Horse (Bela Tarr, 2011)

#115 Post by MichaelB » Sat Feb 18, 2012 4:43 pm

D_B wrote:I'm sorry to see people not putting the 'incest' angle under a spoiler format.
As a general rule, spoilers cover things that actually happen in films, not things that happen in individual viewers' fevered fantasies.

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Re: The Turin Horse (Bela Tarr, 2011)

#116 Post by JakeB » Sat Feb 18, 2012 10:43 pm

MichaelB wrote:No, if you make the reasonable assumption that it's the literal Turin horse, you're left with the rather fundamental problem that
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the world didn't actually come to an end in 1889.
Well there is that also.

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Re: The Turin Horse (Bela Tarr, 2011)

#117 Post by D_B » Sun Feb 19, 2012 12:39 am

MichaelB wrote:
D_B wrote:I'm sorry to see people not putting the 'incest' angle under a spoiler format.
As a general rule, spoilers cover things that actually happen in films, not things that happen in individual viewers' fevered fantasies.
Not exactly sure why you are in such a huff about this.
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At least according to the English subtitles, the girl is not identified as the man's daughter until AFTER the scene where she undresses him the first time. One's natural initial reaction to all this is that she is his wife. It's not initially clear either that she is undressing and dressing him because he is (I presume) partially paralyzed - although after that is revealed it makes somewhat more sense.

I hate to break this to you, but incest DOES sometimes happen. I don't know why you should be shocked that somebody would interpret the information that Tarr gives as possibly leading up to some sort of revelation of this sort
It perhaps says more about you than it does me that you should accuse me of having 'fevered fantasies' about the sad characters in this film.

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Re: The Turin Horse (Bela Tarr, 2011)

#118 Post by MichaelB » Sun Feb 19, 2012 4:15 am

I'm not in a huff at all - I'm just pointing out why your own personal fantasies don't need spoiler tags.

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Re: The Turin Horse (Bela Tarr, 2011)

#119 Post by Rsdio » Sun Feb 19, 2012 7:35 am

I'm not sure whether I read or heard this somewhere, surmised it or what but for some reason I had it in my mind that the horse was the literal Turin Horse and the intial journey we see is the one it makes home after the episode with Nietzsche.

If that's the case (big if) then I don't really see the problem with the way the film goes from there. Films are generally (always?) a fiction, after all. Unless I've been misreading them quite badly all this time, in which case I've got some parents to reprimand over the lack of a hoverboard under the tree every childhood Christmas. Surely the film can have a literal subject transposed into a completely fictional world?
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Also, the film's focus is so narrow that it makes it very easy to imagine that it's now the world coming to an end, just theirs. My impression was that they lived in something like a snow globe (a wind globe maybe), an existential microcosm if you like.

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Re: The Turin Horse (Bela Tarr, 2011)

#120 Post by swo17 » Sun Feb 19, 2012 1:10 pm

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I'm pretty sure that, to remain viable for sustaining life, the rest of the world would also require the existence of the sun.

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Re: The Turin Horse (Bela Tarr, 2011)

#121 Post by Rsdio » Sun Feb 19, 2012 1:36 pm

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Of course. Maybe I can't quite express it properly but what I mean is that to me their world doesn't necessarily have to be either a representation of our own or a complete fantasy, it doesn't have to be either completely figurative or completely literal, it could be a mixture of both.

I'm willing to accept that the film could represent both the actual Turin horse and an imaginary cataclysm at the same time. Perhaps like a work of 'alternate history' fiction. I'm not sure whether that's what I actually think having only seen it the once but I don't see the problem with it as a theory.
Last edited by Rsdio on Mon Feb 20, 2012 8:01 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: The Turin Horse (Bela Tarr, 2011)

#122 Post by Hail_Cesar » Sun Feb 19, 2012 4:56 pm

By the way for those who speaks french, Rancière published a book about Bela Tarr recently and he talks about The Turin Horse.

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Re: The Turin Horse (Bela Tarr, 2011)

#123 Post by zedz » Sun Feb 19, 2012 11:42 pm

Rsdio wrote:
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Of course. Maybe I can't quite express it properly but what I mean is that to me their world doesn't necessarily have to be either a representation of our own or a complete fantasy, it doesn't have to be either completely figurative or completely literal, it could be a mixture of both.

I'm willing to accept that the film could represent both actual Turin horse and an imaginary cataclysm at the same time. Perhaps like a work of 'alternate history' fiction. I'm not sure whether that's what I actually think having only seen it the once but I don't see the problem with it as a theory.
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I have no problem accepting the sun going out as an actual occurrence within the world of the film. Earth has faced apocalypses in countless other films, so why not this one? Just because it doesn't have Bruce Willis in it and the characters we're following don't happen to be trying to save the world at this particular moment doesn't mean it can't deal with a science fiction scenario. And personally I don't think an end-of-the-world scenario is any more out of bounds in a film set in 1889 than it would be in a film set in 2012, 2050 or 1999.

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Re: The Turin Horse (Bela Tarr, 2011)

#124 Post by aox » Mon Feb 20, 2012 8:04 pm

Thoughts on the film: I really liked it, and it is a fine film for Tarr to go out on. This is certainly a huge improvement to The Man From London which to me is his only failed film post-Almanac. But it is slow...even for a Tarr film, this is probably his slowest film. He doesn't have a lot to work with of course, and that is certainly the point. The repetitious and dull life of this peasant family out on the plains is captured brilliantly placing the viewer in the same situation. I was reminded of the Ackerman film, Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles several times throughout. I have never thought of Tarr as a minimalist, but this is probably about as close as he has gotten.

The photography was top-notch and standard Tarr: stark, desolate, and well composed. I was most impressed by the sound though. The score as well (really only one piece of music) was hauntingly beautiful.

I really enjoyed Tarr's wit here. For example, the farmer calling the visitor's philosophical pontification 'rubbish'. But what was truly great here is Tarr reinforcing it with the book the gypsy gave the girl of canonical law where is states many of the same ideas of humanity being awful and destroying everything it touches.

I don't think if I were to ever recommend this director's rich body of work I would ever suggest this as a starting point. The film seemed like a true culmination of his entire body of work. There were shots and moments that I felt were homages to his previous films. I disagree that it was as engaging as WH or Satantango by the lack of narrative here. Though it is as beautiful as his other films, I feel I appreciated this more knowing what to expect from Tarr.

My Ordeal: My g/f couldn't make it today due to school work. I woke up fairly early and saw that Cinema Village on 12th Street had a 12:30 showing so I bought a ticket and was off. I got there at 12:10 and found that they were closed and wouldn't open until 12:30 which is extremely odd to me that they would be screening a film immediately upon opening. I walked around the block and got a beer, came back at 12:25, and saw they had opened 'early'.

Took my seat, and the previews rolled with no sound. Not a big deal. Movie begins rolling and still no sound. In the middle of the first scene with the man and horse driving home, I got up and found the manager to tell him that there was no sound. He said he would look into it and then said in a flip manner, "It's probably just a quiet part in the film". :roll: He messed with every knob for about 10 minutes before the theater gave up. He refunded everyone's money. It's only playing there at Lincoln Center and the next C12 showing was 7:30 and LC was at 3pm.

So, I bummed around and went to the 3pm show uptown. Packed house and a pretty respectful audience sans the very old woman who sat next to me. She arrived 10 minutes late and was silent for the most part. About an hour and a half in though, I noticed that she kept looking at me and practically staring. Perhaps she was trying to gauge a reaction, but she clearly didn't know what she had bought a ticket for. Around that time and using the normal volume of her voice asked me, "where does this film take place." Not wanting to get into the debate of whether it took place near Turin or if the farmer had in fact traveled all of the way back to Hungary before the Day 1 sequence in the prologue, I told her I didn't know. Then about 130 minutes in (146 minute movie), she asked in full volume, "How much longer is this?" I told her with an annoyed tone that I didn't know, but she laughed and seemed to think I was making a crack about the slow film. She then proceeded to ask everyone around us dismissing everyone who shushed her.

Leaving the theater, I instantly went and had two baked potatoes.

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Re: The Turin Horse (Bela Tarr, 2011)

#125 Post by warren oates » Sun Mar 04, 2012 2:24 pm

One of the best films I've ever seen that I've also found so difficult and trying to watch. I'd put it up there with a handful of the most challenging viewing experiences I've ever had. Mostly because in this film Tarr seems determined to prove that he can make a masterpiece of the medium while denying the viewer almost all of the usual pleasures of cinema, even of his own previous efforts.

Comparisons to Jeanne Dielman made here and elsewhere seem spot-on to me. We're meant to get assaulted by the minutiae and tedium of the characters' daily subsistence routine as they dress and undress, fetch water from a well, shovel horse manure, boil potatoes and consume their meager repast in real time. There's a touch of the ritualistic repetition of Miklos Jancso's films too. And though Tarr has always been wary of associations with Tarkovsky, you could say The Turin Horse is like his version of The Sacrifice but without God, hope or the possibility of a willful chosen sacrifice. An apocalypse stripped even of the grandeur, cosmic horror and definitive closure of world-ending. Truly a whimper and not a bang.

If there were still the worldwide popular audience for world cinema that existed briefly in the middle of last century I'd speculate that the potato dinner scenes were destined to become iconic fodder for the parody of art films just like images of the knight playing chess with Death from Bergman's The Seventh Seal.

I agree with some previous posters who felt the film had a couple of false endings that might have made better actual stopping points. But they are fairly close together in time. And part of Tarr's program here seems to be about one-upping Beckett in the "i can't go on, i'll go on" persistence in the face of absurdity and despair contest. So I don't quibble too much with his choices here.

Phenomenologically, this felt like one of the longest films I've ever experienced, even with an actual runtime of well under three hours. Which is no doubt a testament to Tarr's achievement. An achievement for me that feels curiously minor if this remains his last film. The Turin Horse is a distillation of his style and themes, but not one that reaches further or sums up in any major way (like Fanny And Alexander for instance). It almost feels more like a remake of an earlier chamber drama like Almanac of Fall. Not my favorite Tarr. Maybe not even the worthy capstone to his career everyone wants it to be. But definitely as uncompromising and unique a vision as you'll ever see in the cinema.

I had a question about the narrative that the cinematographer addresses in an good interview below:
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http://cinema-scope.com/wordpress/web-a ... rin-horse/
Scope: You must have questioned as to why the father and the daughter, once they’ve packed up and left, return to the house after they go over the horizon.
Kelemen: It’s very easy. They see something—you can only imagine what it is—that makes it not worth staying.

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