The script for Bela Tarr's latest, "The Turin Horse" (co-directed with Agnes Hranitzky), was 35 pages long and 10 of those were about wind. At least that's how one of the producers introduced the film yesterday at the Telluride Film Festival. (After the screening she told me that the script was actually 56 pages long and 20 of them were about wind. You get the idea.)
"The Turin Horse," a slow, two and a half hour, black and white film by a master of challenging cinema, was the first film to screen on the opening day of the Telluride Fest. About 450 people settled into the Palm theater at the town high school for the showing and the fest's Jason Silverman warned them that after seeing "The Turin Horse," they'd view the rest of the Telluride Film Festival through an entirely new set of eyes. Undaunted by an art film with a thin narrative, just a couple of folks seemed to bail out during the showing.
I have friends who are dying to catch a glimpse of what may be Tarr's final film, while others warned me that it is a bore and a waste of time. A famous European festival head apparently called the opening twenty minutes of "The Turin Horse" among the finest ever seen in a movie.
On the big screen at The Palm theater yesterday, "The Turin Horse" was a knockout.
Save for the howling sound of a treacherous wind, the "The Turin Horse" (Hungary's contender for the foreign language Oscar) is essentially a silent movie. It unfolds over six days inside a modest rural farm house that protects a monstrous carriage driver and his dutiful daughter from what is described as "an apocalyptic windstorm."
"The Turin Horse" will test your patience and challenge the way you watch movies. It may also make you crave boiled potatoes. My advice, give it a try, see it on the big screen, and judge for yourself.