« on: February 05, 2014, 12:21:09 pm »
Out last night to see a one-off rep screening of "The Turin Horse" (unfeasibly, it's the first time I've ever got to see any of Tarr's work on a big screen!!!).
I already knew it was a film that lingered (much like the rest of his stuff that I know, of course), but I was amazed how much of it was already second nature to me. It's etched on the memory, seems like it's been a part of my life for a LONG time, but checking my records, it's less than two years since I first saw it, nearly 18 months since I last saw it, and last night was somehow only the third time I've seen the film. And yet... And yet, every image, every movement, I knew it all - in truth, it's not been far from my mind in all that time. But somehow, it all felt so unknowable and fresh, too. From the meticulous camera movements, to every grunted monosyllabic bit of dialogue (well, apart from the extraordinary monologue from the "neighbour" about social collapse and the battle between classes and ideologies), those extraordinary performances from Janos Derszi and Erika Bok, not to mention Ricsi the horse, which really does seem to be aware of the ennui of its own performance (I know, it's not possible, but it REALLY seems like it's actually consciously portraying something). The imagery is so extraordinary too - one thing that really struck me last night was how much black there is on screen. Much of the film has at least 40% of the screen in black, and there seems to be a wilful pattern of reducing the primacy of the frame by having that blackness extend beyond at least one edge of the frame (such that the few times where the screen is actually full of white, such as a close-up of a white garment hanging on a clothes line, it's a strange and startling image). Also, to hark back to something George said upon seeing the film about the various aspects of the film "becom[ing] indivisible and disappear as 'techniques' in the service of what is being said" - one thing that really struck me in the opening credits is that one title screen says "a film by..." and then lists director, authors, composer, photographer*, producers as one whole list without appointing particular responsibilities - an acknowledgement that as a film it's an indivisible whole made by all of them. A remarkable way of describing it, I think.
Strange atmosphere in the cinema too... A lot of nervous tension and suppressed laughter in the first 20 minutes from much of the (small) audience, but the film really seemed to take a hold and demand attention. I don't think I heard a squeak from anyone over the last 90 minutes. But, when the lights came up, the nervous laughter seemed to return. I guess that even the people who didn't "get" it were still somehow grabbed by it and couldn't fail to give it full attention during the actual viewing. I know I felt pinned back in my seat for the whole thing, and I suspect a few other people did...
An extraordinary experience!
*Director of photography is Fred Kelemen, but I noticed in the credits that the steadicam crew featured one Tilman Buttner, who was the extraordinary steadicam/DoP on Sokhurov's "Russian Ark".