The Turin Horse (2011)

A Torinói ló
Feature Film | Drama | Hun/Fra/Ger/Swi/USA | Hungarian | 2h26m
Dir: Tarr Béla | Scr: Krasznahorkai László & Tarr Béla | DP: Fred Kelemen | Prod: Téni Gábor | Mus: Vig Mihály | Ed: Hranitzky Ágnes | Cast: Derzsi János, Bók Erika, Kormos Mihály, Ricsi
It’s hard to imagine a film more depressing than Tarr’s remarkable and seemingly final offering. Even the bleakest works of Ingmar Bergman would fail to come close. But, just as with the Scandinavian master’s best pieces, Tarr’s The Turin Horse is nevertheless essential, entrancing viewing. The sadly retiring Hungarian’s singularity of vision is even more intense here than before, with his alluring, trademark tracking shots and gentle black humour all but abandoned in favour of mostly static, dialogue-free scenes of drudgery and repetitive manual labour, leavened only by the howls of the relentlessly blowing wind and the intermittent accompaniment of Vig’s outstandingly haunting score. The plot, what there is of one, follows the miserable lives of a stroke-victim farmer (Derzsi), his cheerless daughter (Bók), and their broken-down horse (Ricsi – a more depressed looking nag I’ve yet to see). Against the backdrop of their dreary, spartan, wind-swept country home, they find little of cheer, as they do their daily chores, eat some rather unappetising looking boiled potatoes (and nothing but), and attempt to coax their dying horse back out to work. Day after day, they repeat this routine, with little sign of any change… until, midway through the film, their gypsy-cursed well, their sole source of water, suddenly dries up – at which point, their world begins to apocalyptically crumble around them, until, after six bleak days, they find themselves alone at the end of the world, sat in an eternal darkness, eating now-even-more-unappetising raw potatoes. Essential viewing for the braver, more discerning filmgoer.