(The Turin Horse is now available on DVD and Blu-ray through Cinema Guild. It world premiered at the 2011 Berlin Film Festival and opened theatrically in NYC on Friday, February 10, 2011. Visit the film’s page at the Cinema Guild website to learn more.)
Béla Tarr, always leaving you wanting less. Less pain, less muck, less time to do less work, less life. Sharing the top line with longtime editor Ágnes Hranitzky, world cinema’s reigning blue whale takes a famous footnote to Nietzsche’s life—the philosopher’s spiral into dumb silence upon witnessing a carriage horse’s brutal beating—and constructs a footnote to the footnote, wherein we follow the horse home. Routine follows routine, as the carriage driver and his daughter wake, dress, drink a shot, work, check on the horse, eat a couple hot potatoes, sleep, repeat. From the first frames of a technically masterful opening shot of the titular horse chomping bit against a howling wind, the film’s astounding, moving-daguerreotype aesthetics rest on an even, dusty plain with the scenario. Here, light and shadow don’t reveal character; they are character. Tarr’s world, a carousel of grime and heavy doorways and ceaseless gales, is free of psychology yet feels entirely interior. Little is said and little is developed, as days end and begin, end and begin—until they don’t. A distillation of Beckettian liminal anxiety Beckett himself would’ve had trouble committing so fully to the screen, The Turin Horse stays in your brain like tar in your lungs.
— John Magary