The Turin Horse

Synopsis: 1889. German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche witnessed the whipping of a horse while traveling in Turin, Italy. He tossed his arms around the horse's neck to protect it then collapsed to the ground. In less than one month, Nietzsche would be diagnosed with a serious mental illness that would make him bed-ridden and speechless for the next eleven years until his death. But whatever did happen to the horse? This film, which is Tarr's last, follows up this question in a fictionalized story of what occurred. The man who whipped the horse is a rural farmer who makes his living taking on carting jobs into the city with his horse-drawn cart. The horse is old and in very poor health, but does its best to obey its master's commands. The farmer and his daughter must come to the understanding that it will be unable to go on sustaining their livelihoods. The dying of the horse is the foundation of this tragic tale.
Genre: Drama
Director(s): Béla Tarr, Ágnes Hranitzky (co-director)
Production: Cinema Guild
  7 wins & 14 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
155 min

In Turin, on January 3rd, 1889,

Friedrich Nietzsche steps out of the

door of number six Via Carlo Alberto,

perhaps to take a stroll, perhaps to go

by the post office to collect his mail.

Not far from him, or indeed

very far removed from him,

a cabman is having trouble

with his stubborn horse.

Despite all his urging,

the horse refuses to move,

whereupon the cabman...

Giuseppe? Carlo? Ettore?

...loses his patience

and takes his whip to it.

Nietzsche comes up to the throng

and puts an end to

the brutal scene of the cabman,

who by this time is foaming with rage.

The solidly built and full-mustached

Nietzsche suddenly jumps up to the cab

and throws his arms around

the horse's neck, sobbing.

His neighbor takes him home,

where he lies still and

silent for two days on a divan

until he mutters the obligatory last words,

"Mutter, ich bin dumm,"

and lives for another ten years,

gentle and demented,

in the care of his mother and sisters.

Of the horse, we know nothing.


It's ready.

Go to bed.


Hey, you!

What is it?

Can't you hear them either?


The woodworms, they're not doing it.

I've heard them for 58 years.

But I don't hear them now.

They really have stopped.

What's it all about, papa?

I don't know.

Let's sleep.

She lies back and pulls

the blanket over herself.

Ohlsdorfer turns on his side

and fixes his eyes on the window.

The girl stares at the ceiling,

her father at the window.

At times a tile can be heard

crashing down from the roof

and shattering noisily.

The gale roars relentlessly

around the house.


Come here!

Can't you see she won't move?

Stop it!

Come here!


It's ready.

I've run out of brandy.

Would you give me a bottle?

Give him some...

- Why didn't you go into town?

- The wind's blown it away.

How come?

It's gone to ruin.

Why would it go to ruin?

Because everything's in ruins,

everything's been degraded,

but I could say that they've

ruined and degraded everything.

Because this is not some kind of cataclysm,

coming about with

so-called innocent human aid.

On the contrary...

It's about man's own judgment,

his own judgment over his own self,

which of course God has a big hand in,

or, dare I say, takes part in.

And whatever he takes part in

is the most ghastly creation that

you can imagine.

Because, you see,

the world has been debased.

So it doesn't matter what I say,

because everything has been debased

that they've acquired,

and, since they've acquired everything

in a sneaky, underhanded fight,

they've debased everything.

Because whatever they touch,

and they touch everything,

they've debased.

This is the way it was until the final victory.

Until the triumphant end.

Acquire, debase,

debase, acquire.

Or I can put it differently if you'd like,

to touch, debase and thereby acquire,

or touch, acquire and thereby debase.

It's been going on like this

for centuries. On, on and on.

This and only this,

sometimes on the sly, sometimes rudely,

sometimes gently, sometimes brutally,

but it has been going on and on.

Yet only in one way,

like a rat attacks from ambush.

Because for this perfect victory,

it was also essential that the other side,

that is, everything that's excellent,

great in some way and noble,

should not engage in any kind of fight.

There shouldn't be any kind of struggle,

just the sudden disappearance of one side,

meaning the disappearance of the

excellent, the great, the noble.

So that by now the winners who have won

by attacking from ambush rule the earth,

and there isn't a single tiny nook

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László Krasznahorkai

László Krasznahorkai (Hungarian pronunciation: [ˈlaːsloː ˈkrɒsnɒhorkɒi]; born 5 January 1954) is a Hungarian novelist and screenwriter who is known for critically difficult and demanding novels, often labeled as postmodern, with dystopian and melancholic themes. Several of his works, notably his novels Satantango (Sátántangó, 1985) and The Melancholy of Resistance (Az ellenállás melankóliája, 1989), have been turned into feature films by Hungarian film director Béla Tarr. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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