October 07, 2012

Must Watch Before You Die #32: The Turin Horse (2011)

I do not find it easy to recommend very fresh movies under this title of "must-watch". Generally, I play it safe by recommending those which have stood the test of time. However, today I'm naming a film, that will join the list of great movies as the youngest member. Bela Tarr's 'The Turin Horse' is also, perhaps, the hardest to watch among those I've recommended in the list.

It is long - two and a half hours. And it has only 30 shots. So, on an average, each shot is five minutes in length. Shot in black and white, it barely has any dialogues. There is one monotonous background music being played throughout the film. There are only two main characters, and the entire film is set in one location. Within the first fifteen minutes of the film, most people will turn it off. Those who won't may just witness one great cinematic accomplishment.

This is perhaps the most minimalistic film I've seen. There have been films set in one location, films without many cuts, films with minimal characters and dialogues. But by shooting it in black and white, using just one wide-angle lens throughout, with only a couple of very slow zoom-ins and outs, and using a powerful but monotonous sound design, the film deliberately and successfully creates an experience devoid of any story or overt dramatic or emotional moments. The film doesn't bother to take us close to the characters, or the actors playing them. However, it creates a stunning impact on you, and communicates its message so strongly that it is unlikely you will ever forget it.

I watched it over 24 hours, in three sittings. But when it ended, I wanted more of it. 'The Turin Horse' is pure cinematic bliss. If you can sit through it, you'll cherish it forever.

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