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The Turin Horse [UK] Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080p/24 (24Hz)
  • Audio Codec: Hungarian LPCM 2.0 (48kHz/16-bit)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Subtitles Color: White
  • Region: B (Region-Locked)
  • Certification: 15
  • Run Time: 146 Mins.
  • Discs: 1 (1 x Blu-ray)
  • Studio: Artificial Eye
  • Blu-ray Release Date: September 10, 2012
  • RRP: £19.99

Overall
[Rating:4/5]
The Film
[Rating:5/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:2/5]

Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures

(All TheaterByte screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG at 100% quality setting and are meant as a general representation of the content. They do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)

The Film

[Rating:5/5]

Filmmaker Béla Tarr’s self-professed final film, The Turin Horse (A Torinói ló) may very well be the filmmaker’s greatest achievement. An absolutely beautiful fusion of motion, light, and sound – knowing full well that may be pointing out the obvious – The Turin Horse is like a ballet of the tortured existence of life that hearkens back only to the greatest works of Ingmar Bergman for an equal. As its starting point, the film uses the story of the final days of Nietzsche, wherein he supposedly through his arms around a horse he observed being whipped, before Nietzsche then lost his mind. Tarr’s film asks what became of that horse. We know, now, in 1889, as we find an old man, an aged horse-cart driver, and his daughter living in a sparse house in a rural area, and that horse is dying. The two have now to come to grips with the reality of survival without the one thing that allows them to make a living.

Tarr’s film begins in absolute darkness, a black screen with naught but a narrator recounting the story of Nietzsche, and then for nearly 20-minutes, exists in a beautiful and powerful world of silence until two simple words ‘it’s ready” are uttered by the man’s daughter, a simple dish of boiled potatoes which they both eat up like life itself. We are taken inside the world of father’s and daughter’s daily routine, practically in real time, as the tortured mundanity weighs heavily on every activity, eating, sleeping, washing dishes, fetching water in the whipping wind of a stark plain.

The cinematography, it must be observed here, is riveting. Fred Kelemen uses the camera and the black and white film to give us long, single shots with few edits, an intense focus on character’s faces and awesome imagery of the surroundings, both interior and exterior. The resulting culmination of these things in The Turin Horse is that we are somehow no longer just passengers on a journey through the harrowing lives of this man and his daughter, but by the end, we have merged with their lives, and become fully immersed in their plight and sympathetic with this universal struggle of life and death.

Video Quality

[Rating:4.5/5]

The stark black and white is captured with an excellent amount of natural texture and detail in the AVC/MPEG-4 1080p encodement from Artificial Eye. A layer of grain is seen throughout the film, at times a little rough, especially in the cloudy skies, but always palatable and never obscuring the incredible dimensionality and detail that is offered up in the wonderful contrast and textures available here.

Audio Quality

[Rating:4/5]

The Hungarian LPCM 2.0 (48kHz/24-bit) won’t set the world on fire with its narrow soundfield, but the almost claustrophobic sound captures aurally what the film portrays visually, and one can hear quite well the relentless whipping of the cold wind and the melancholic score from Mihály Vig.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:2/5]

The supplements here are sparse, but an additional Tarr work is offered, which should be of interest to fans of the filmmaker’s work.

The supplements:

  • Trailer (1.78:1; 1080p/24)
  • Hotel Magnezit (1.33:1; SD/PAL; 00:11:49) – Tarr’s pseudo-documentary film from 1980.

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:4/5]

The Turin Horse is an amazing triumph of human drama and emotion captured in near silence; a gripping tale of survival that plays out with beauty and elegance in the starkness of black and white. Bravo to this Blu-ray from Artificial Eye for capturing it so eloquently.

Additional Screen Captures

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[amazon-product region=”uk” tracking_id=”bluraydefinit-21″]B0087PZDV6[/amazon-product]

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Overall
[Rating:4/5]
The Film
[Rating:5/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:2/5]


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