The Turin Horse ★★★★★

Béla Tarr is a Hungarian director in whom I have had great interest for some time. His movies--the few of them that there are--are scarce and often expensive in the United States, which has been my reason for holding off on visiting his work for so long. I found his most recent (and reportedly, his final) feature film, The Turin Horse, for a reasonable price, and read some pretty divided comments about it. In my viewing of it last night, what I discovered was an astonishingly beautiful work of art. The film shows six days in the bleak, mundane lives of a elderly rural farmer, his adult daughter, and their horse. Every day, the same routine is followed. They barely speak. The daughter gets her father dressed. She fetches water from a well outside in a never-ending windstorm. She cooks them each one whole potato, which they eat piping hot. The father, who has lost the use of his right arm, goes into town on his horse for supplies. One day, they have a visitor, a man that appears to be friends with the father. He explains in ambiguity that the town is no more, that "they" have taken over everything, and that nothing is safe from "their" control. "Everything they touch is debased," he says, "and they can touch everything." He departs, leaving the father and daughter to their routine of ennui. The horse, they find, has stopped eating, and refuses to walk into town anymore. Shot in the most gorgeous black and white I've ever seen, the film speaks volumes without saying much at all. Tarr, like Tarkovsky, isn't looking for solutions to the problems of existence, but rather is showing the ability and perseverance of humans dealing with the weight of life. I greatly look forward to exploring more of his work, as this film reflected tones of Tarkovsky, Bergman, Haneke, Ozu, and Bresson, who all approach life in harrowing and poetic manners.