News – 21st February, 2011

The unbearable hardness of being

Béla Tarr’s Turin Horse wins Silver Bear

News–21st February, 2011


Béla Tarr’s Turin Horse wins Silver Bear

Director Béla Tarr has been awarded The Jury Grand Prize (Silver Bear) at the 61st Berlinale. Tarr (55) announced that The Turin Horse was going to be his last after 34 years of filmmaking.

The Turin Horse, premiered on 15 February, has been hailed by critics as the most radical film so far of this very radical director, famous for his extremely long takes and very sparse dialogues, “a gauntly beautiful, stripped-down quintessence of the director’s style”. (Screendaily) Like several of his previous films, including the more than seven hour long Satan’s Tango and Werckmeister Harmonies, The Turin Horse is based on a screenplay by László Krasznahorkai.

The 146-minute film, made in Hungarian–German–French–Swiss coproduction, portrays six days in the life of a father (János Derzsi) and daughter (Erika Bók), who live a lonely life in a farmhouse. The title is based on an incident of Nietzsche’s life. When the philosopher witnessed a horse being whipped in Turin in 1899, he reportedly retreated into silence and madness. The film shows creation in a reverse order, according to the critic of the Hungarian film site Everything that gave meaning and value to existence disappears in these six days – animals, water, the wind, and even light. All this is shot is a mere 30 long takes. In an interview given to the Hungarian website Tarr said that if Kundera called his novel The Unbearable Lightness of Being, this film was about the unbearable hardness of being.

Besides the Silver Bear, The Turin Horse also took the grand prix awarded by the FIPRESCI, the international federation of film critics. The last time a Hungarian director took the Silver Bear was in 1980, when István Szabó’s Confidence got the prize. The only time that the Golden Bear had been awarded to a Hungarian director was in 1975, when Márta Mészáros’ Adoption was the winner.

The Golden Bear of the 61st Berlinale was given to Iranian director Asghar Farhadi for his Nader And Simin: A Separation.

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