The Turin Horse  

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"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, 'Mutter, ich bin dumm!' ['Mother, I am stupid!' in German] 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." --Béla Tarr’s introductory words to The Turin Horse

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

The Turin Horse is a 2011 Hungarian philosophical drama film directed by Béla Tarr and Ágnes Hranitzky, starring János Derzsi, Erika Bók and Mihály Kormos. It was co-written by Tarr and his frequent collaborator László Krasznahorkai. It recalls the whipping of a horse in the Italian city Turin which is rumoured to have caused the mental breakdown of philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. The film is in black-and-white, shot in only 30 long takes by Tarr's regular cameraman Fred Kelemen, and depicts the repetitive daily lives of the horse and its owner.

The film was an international co-production led by the Hungarian company T. T. Filmműhely. Tarr has said that he intends it to be his last film. After having been postponed several times, it premiered in 2011 at the 61st Berlin International Film Festival, where it received the Jury Grand Prix. The Hungarian release was postponed after the director had criticised the country's government in an interview.

The Turin Horse opened to general acclaim from film critics.

Plot

Nietzsche's collapse and mental breakdown

"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, 'Mutter, ich bin dumm!' ['Mother, I am stupid!' in German] 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."

These are Béla Tarr’s introductory words at the beginning of his film, which picks up the narrative immediately after these events, and is a meticulous description of the life of the driver of the hansom cab, his daughter and the horse. The film depicts how the driver, his daughter, and the horse live in an unknown area, seemingly isolated from other people. The pair's daily routine is established as the film progresses, using white text on a black screen as a transition for each day. The two encounter problems and are shown trying to leave, though the camera does not follow them as they go, but are shown coming back for unknown reasons. The pair are shown trying to complete their daily routine, but are unable to, and clearly distraught. Eventually even the lights go out in the house and the screen fades to black, leaving the fate of the two undetermined.

Cast

  • János Derzsi as stableman
  • Erika Bók as daughter of the stableman
  • Mihály Kormos as drunken man
  • Mihály Ráday as narrator




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "The Turin Horse" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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