The film starts like this : ‘On January 3, 1889 in Turin, Italy, Friedrich Nietzsche steps out of the doorway of number six, Via Carlo Albert. Not far from him, a cab driver is having trouble with a stubborn horse. The horse refuses to move, whereupon the driver loses his patience and takes his whip to it. Nietzsche puts an end to the brutal scene, throwing his arms around the horse’s neck, sobbing. After this, he lies motionless and silent for two days on a divan, until he loses consciousness and his mind.’
I have never seen before a more sad, dark and death inspiring film. The Turin Horse is Béla Tarr‘s last film, but the first I saw so far and it definitely convinced me to search deeper into Tarr’s productions.
After Nietzsche’s encounter with the horse on the streets of Turin, the story takes us further to the horse’s owner life. He comes back from the city to his house somewhere in a deserted hill, where he lives with his daughter. Their life is like a cold nightmare, there is nothing enjoyable happening to them. We don’t ever see a smile on their faces, they are barely talking to each other, they have the same activities each day. Everything gets even worse when the horse stops eating and drinking water and refuses to work anymore.
Everything is absolutely terrifying. There is a desperate melancholy surrounding the two characters from the film. The wind is blowing like hell, all shows only misery and suffering. Visually, the film is absolutely stunning, although it may seem very static. The house they live in seems cold and grey, they eat for dinner a boiled potato, which they peel while being very hot, there is no sign of sun, only clouds and the blistering wind.
Also, the music of the film transmits the same message as the images. The composer Mihaly Vig created a soundtrack which repeats itself over and over again, exactly like the furious wind.
All shows that this is the end, that there is no escape for the human kind, that everything goes in a final and eternal silence and darkness, with no way of returning.