An online film journal for Indian Cinema
Bela Tarr’s last film could just as easily be retitled ‘The Wind’. Labels such as slow cinema insist we look at films in a certain way but here is another theory that seems to have run its course, duly causing a backlash. There is no denying for a film lasting over two hours and thirty minutes Tarr is preoccupied with real time, not screen time. If this is supposed to be the end, the apocalypse, then everything becomes distilled to the point of abstraction. Tarr relies on primal, ethereal textures so that we can taste the potatoes that they eat, feel the ferocity of the howling wind that envelops the house like some demonic possession and smell the pestilence ravaging the bodies of the exhausted man and his servile daughter. I’m inclined to say The Turin Horse is a film about textures. The perpetual storm, framed as an unholy harbinger is accentuated by the wind, an apocryphal force. Tarr’s strategy of repeating daily actions ritualises ordinariness to the point of exasperation. Amidst this routine enacted by both characters in the farmhouse, suspended in time, is a disrupting metaphysical unease conjuring an all-pervasive dread. Not sure if The Turin Horse is the Nietzsche inspired masterpiece that some have declared it to be but it is a mighty fine way to conclude what is an inimitable body of films.