Béla Tarr and the seventh art

By: Louk Vreeswijk

May 13 2018

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Category: Europe, Netherlands

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Aperture:f/2.4
Focal Length:4.28mm
ISO:800
Shutter:1/0 sec
Camera:iPhone 4S

His last and maybe final film: The Turin Horse (black and white, 146′, 2011).
There is inside and outside. Outside: a deafening storm rages over the barren land. The gale blows clouds of sand and dead leaves in the air. A desolate bare tree stands on the hill in front of the farm. Inside: the constant soft sound of the repetitive melody of wailing wind, sometimes augmented with the sound of a repetitive melody of music. And before our eyes, in shots of long duration, the repetitive melody of everyday life unfolds. Daughter gets up. Puts on clothes, layer after layer. Fetches water from the well. Dresses father, layer after layer – he has one lame arm. Stirs up the fire in the kitchen stove. Father drinks two glasses of brandy. Daughter drinks one. Daughter boils two big potatoes. Father peals and eats one, daughter peals and eats one. Once or twice father says something to daughter. Once or twice daughter says something to father.
Daughter mucks out the stable of the horse. The horse does not want to pull the cart anymore. She does not eat and does not drink anymore. She is sick.
The fourth day the well is suddenly dry. The fifth day the oil lamp dies out and doesn’t come on anymore, even though it is filled with oil. Daughter: “Even the embers went out.” Father: “Tomorrow we’ll try again.” Suddenly, at the end of the fifth day, the gale dies down. Silence reigns, darkness reigns, inside and outside.
There still is the beginning of a sixth day. Then it is finished. God created the world in six days, Béla Tarr the end of it.

Table from the film The Turin Horse, Béla Tarr Exhibition, EYE Amsterdam 2017

At the Béla Tarr exhibition in the EYE in Amsterdam was a room with the table from the film. On it were two big potatoes, two plates, the empty brandy bottle and glass. The table is indelibly stamped on my memory in black and white. At the exhibition it was the real thing. Unreal. In colour.

Photo of the week: Tribute to the tree that stands firm in the lashing wind in The Turin Horse, Béla Tarr Exhibition, EYE Filmmuseum, Amsterdam, Netherlands 2017

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