After the Cannes competition in 2007, Hungarian maestro Béla Tarr will join the race for the Golden Bear at the 61st Berlinale (February 10-20) with what he has described as the last film of his career: The Turin Horse. The director of Damnation, Satan's Tango, Werckmeister Harmonies and The Man From London has put together a cast including Erika Bók, János Derzsi, Mihály Kormos and Ricsi.
Co-scripted by the director and László Krasznahorkai, the film opens in Turin on January 3, 1889. Friedrich Nietzsche leaves his house at no.6, Via Carlo Alberto, perhaps to go for a walk or perhaps to fetch his mail from the post office.
Not far from him, or rather very far away already, a coach driver is getting agitated because of his stubborn horse. However much he spurs it on, the horse won’t move, so the driver – Giuseppe, Carlo or Ettore – loses his patience and starts to whip it.
When Nietzsche reaches the crowd watching what is happening, the cruel scene of the coach driver foaming with rage comes to an end, for this stout man, tall as a giant, his face dominated by a thick moustache, flings himself, sobbing, around the horse’s neck. Nietzsche’s host takes him back home, where he remains motionless and lying on a couch in silence until he utters his final words ("Mutter ich bin dumm"). Then, watched over by his mother and sisters, he lives in mild insanity for another ten years. It is not known what happened to the horse.
The film’s French co-producer Marie-Pierre Macia told Cineuropa: "The Turin Horse is magnificent, with a metaphorical dimension symbolising the end of a world, the end of a cinema. It’s Béla Tarr’s last film and perhaps the most radical of his works, which are always experiences, journeys. Whether the film is 15 minutes longer or shorter is of no importance to those who enter Béla’s hypnotic world. We’re very proud to have seen this adventure through to the end and proud of this selection in competition at Berlin."
Produced by Hungarian company T.T.Filmmuhely (headed by Gábor Téni and Tarr), The Turin Horse was co-produced by France’s MPM Film (Macia and Juliette Lepoutre), Switzerland’s Vega Film (Ruth Waldburger) and Germany’s zero fiction film (Martin Hagemann). The film also got backing from the US’s Werc Werk Work, Eurimages, the Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg Fund and the Motion Picture Foundation of Hungary. International sales are at an advanced stage of negotiation.