Cheerful gloom

The Turin Horse,
by Bela Tarr, Ágnes Hranitzky, 
László Krasznahorkai, Fred Kelemen

In “The Turin Horse” all are damned. The horse, the father, the daughter, the natural elements - water, earth, fire, the house. There is no hope for anybody or anything except ... for the gypsies, and for the philosophizing neighbor.

The neighbor clearly suffers from a depressing insight into the state of things. Unlike the father and the daughter he has not succumbed to the gloom. He still has the rage. The intensity of his vision, moistened by plum vodka, give him strength. Kudos to philosophy, no matter how bleak.

The gypsies dance, joke and drink - elated because they are going to America, one might guess. They also possess wisdom of the book which they give to the daughter. The book says that a travesty was committed “in the house of worship”. We may only guess what sin did originally paralyze the family and indirectly the horse. Regardless of what it was, the gypsies were not part of the transgression. They did not commit the sin of the house, or of the father or of the father and the daughter. If they did do something bad, they did not take it so seriously, perhaps. They happily withdraw from the condemned world. For America. Kudos to the gypsies!

Contrary to the prevailing reading of the film, the human condition depicted there is not universal. The household dread does not apply to the philosopher nor to the free spirits.

Bela Tarr leaves an opening for such a read by basing his visual narrative on successively changing points of view. If we can see daily rituals from various angles, we could also absorb the story from the angles that are not included yet in the narrative. This includes the gypsies and the neighbor.

Perhaps Tarr is a cheerful fellow, who in a perverse manner, shows us the way to transcend the nihilism. After all, isn’t his pointing to the might of thinking (the neighbor) and to the Dionysian (the gypsies) in line with the Nietzschean will to power?

Then there is the issue of drinking: the father and the daughter drink only to sustain their life force. The neighbor drinks to subdue the pain of knowing the bigger picture. The gypsies drink to have fun.

The choice is yours. :-)

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