A Great Poem on the End of the World
“In Turin on 3rd January, 1889, Friedrich Nietzsche steps out of the doorway of number six, Via Carlo Alberto. Not far from him, the driver of a hansom cab is having trouble with a stubborn horse. Despite all his urging, the horse refuses to move, whereupon the driver loses his patience and takes his whip to it. Nietzsche comes up to the throng and puts an end to the brutal scene, throwing his arms around the horse’s neck, sobbing. His landlord takes him home, he lies motionless and silent for two days on a divan until he mutters the obligatory last words, and lives for another ten years, silent and demented, cared for by his mother and sisters. We do not know what happened to the horse.” – The Prologue to The Turin Horse
“In my first film I started from my social sensibility and I just wanted to change the world. Then I had to understand that problems are more complicated. Now I can just say it’s quite heavy and I don’t know what is coming, but I can see something that is very close – the end. Before the shooting I knew this would be my last film.” – Bela Tarr
“In my film, the end of the world is very silent, very weak. So the end of the world comes as I see it coming in real life – slowly and quietly. Death is always the most terrible scene, and when you watch someone dying – an animal or a human – it’s always terrible, and the most terrible thing is that it looks like nothing happened.” – Bela Tarr
With comparisons to the work of Samuel Beckett. Bela Tarr’s The Turin Horse, has been described as not so much a film but an experience, a transcendent one according to film critic J Hoberman. “A great poem on the end of the world”, Tarr himself has said it is about the inescapable fact of death and the ‘unbearable heaviness of being.’ If all of this sounds depressing and dark, the experience of being immersed in the world Tarr has created has in fact encouraged multiple viewings in more than one viewer. The camera choreography the director and his cinematographer, Fred Keleman, have created give one the feeling of moving around within the space the characters interact in. We are there witnessing their daily lives and silently participating in their stark routines not knowing if we or they are going to survive, escape, or surrender.
As the world slides toward the slow decline of collapse, and as we begin to enter the phase of needing to become hospice caregivers for each other – Tarr has through his art created a window into the absurd experience so many are facing of trying to hang on to a routine that is deemed futile in the face of the raging storm that exists just outside their walls.