• Horseplay: Equine performance and creaturely acts in cinema

      HOCKENHULL, STELLA (Amsterdam University Press, 2014)
      Béla Tarr’s latest and reputedly final film, The Turin Horse (2011), takes its prompt from the story about an encounter that Nietzsche claims to have experienced with a maltreated horse on Via Carlo Alberto, Turin.[1] Tarr’s film opens with an image of a large horse pulling a cart through the bleak, inhospitable Hungarian landscape. The mare (Ricsi) walks toward the camera, seen in close-up and from a low angle; blinkered and with a sweat-matted coat, she progresses forward, seeming to struggle with the extreme weight of her cargo. As she continues on her journey the camera reveals her driver: Ohlsdorfer (János Derzsi), a stern and unkempt bearded man whose face remains expressionless throughout the film. The wind stirs up dust on the unmade road and blows the man’s hair and the horse’s mane; at this point, with her ears set back and her eyes showing white, the animal’s demeanour signals unease and discomfort. Tarr continues his focus on the horse, the camera roving over her powerful, straining body, thus displaying the arduous work involved in this daily toil. At one point she lowers her head and gathers her strength to pull harder against the wind and, surrounded by dust, she opens and closes her mouth, quickening her pace in the process. Toward the end of the sequence the man alights and leads the animal for the remainder of their journey home.