Monday, June 11, 2012

The Turin Horse

The Turin Horse is one of the heavier films I have seen in a long while. It is deeply immersive, slowly showing us the lives of a dirt poor farmer and his daughter as they go about their chores over and over in a small farmhouse in a seemingly timeless era. Shot with very long takes and intensely choreographed camera movement, the film’s haunting black and white imagery is a wonder to behold. This intense minimalism from Hungarian master Bela Tarr and cinematographer Fred Kelemen is ideal for capturing the soul crushing sorrow of repetitive banality in the lives of human beings.

This film has one of the best soundtracks I have heard. A dark and introspective minor key phrase played by a string section is looped throughout almost the entire 2 ½ hour runtime, dramatically underpinning the non-action on screen.

I have read elsewhere that some interpret this film as one about the end of the world. While there is one scene that alludes to something nefarious happening the distance, it is most definitely about the apocalypse within. What I mostly took away was the overbearing weight of the mundane tasks one must ritualize in order to survive a meager existence. Indeed, I don’t think I’ve seen the bleakness of reality outlined this solemnly on film before. The shot of the woman in the dark near the end, as her face is finally fully revealed, will stay with me for a while. And eating a boiled potato will certainly never be the same.

The Turin Horse is an enduring masterpiece that shines a light on the sacred nothingness within us all.

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