The Turin Horse – Directed by Béla Tarr

April 13–19
SF Film Society Cinema
1746 Post Street (Webster/Buchanan)

Purportedly Béla Tarr’s final film, this masterpiece takes its scenario from a traumatic incident in Friedrich Nietzche’s life when he witnessed a horse being mercilessly whipped. Wondering what happened to the horse, the Hungarian auteur crafts a relentless film depicting the domestic life of a horse-cart driver and his daughter. Detailing the bare components of their impoverished daily lives, their existence worsens when their horse refuses to eat, drink, or pull a cart. Hinting at apocalypse with howling winds, scorched-earth terrain and gas lamps going mysteriously dark, Tarr’s incomparable but challenging film shows the persistence (and fruitlessness) of human effort in spite of everything.

“An auterist triumph.” —Manohla Dargis, New York Times

“A death-haunted masterpiece.” —J. Hoberman, Village Voice

“Rarely in the cinema have such lives, such tasks been endowed with so much presence, such a sense of exhausted vitality. The characters’ lives may be insignificant in any kind of larger scheme, but as they unfold on the screen, they are everything.” —Slant Magazine

“If you are willing to fall into Tarr’s deliberate rhythm, there is a beauty to his story and, like Beckett, even a glimmer of hope to be found in the persistence of routine even in the darkest circumstances. 4 stars.” —Eye for Film UK

The Turin Horse is an example — an exceedingly rare one in contemporary cinema — of how a work that seems built on the denial of pleasure can, through formal discipline, passionate integrity and terrifying seriousness, produce an experience of exaltation. The movie is too beautiful to be described as an ordeal, but it is sufficiently intense and unyielding that when it is over, you may feel, along with awe, a measure of relief. Which may sound like a reason to stay away, but is exactly the opposite. —A.O. Scott, NY Times

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