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Georges and Anne are an octogenarian couple. They are cultivated, retired music teachers. Their daughter, also a musician, lives in Britain with her family. One day, Anne has a stroke, and the couple's bond of love is severely tested.
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. Written by
I get real tired of pretentious critics trying to make something out of nothing. Experimental/artistic film makers get away with producing drivel only by using the naiveté and over-active imagination of viewers too afraid to look unsophisticated by telling the truth. I've gone to a number of such festivals and all I can say is that if you ever worry about having psychological problems, watch some of these experimental films. You will suddenly realize how normal you are.
I would love to see a movie based on Nietzsche's life. That's the lure that got me to watch the film. Don't be fooled. This is a misinterpretation of Nietzsche as looked at through the lens of existentialism. Nietzsche looked upward, not downward. Read Zarathustra. Sure, he criticized the fact that noble nature's have been subsumed by Christian values, but that was because he reached for those higher values. This film glorifies the mundane. Nietzsche would never have done that.
After an hour of watching people eat a potato (utter nonsense), or enjoying the thrill of a wild trip to the well to get water, the film's most dramatic moment arrives. On a particularly exciting evening when the near-mute father and daughter are watching clothes dry (I only wish I was making this up) a guest arrives. He spouts off some viewpoints that are obliquely Nietzshean and leaves. Then, it's back to the potatoes, wind, dismal music, and clothes drying. The film follows six days in the lives of the world's most vegetative humans. In truth, you would get more emotional angst from a celery stalk. It is not filmed in real time, but it feels as though it is.
Oh yeah, the horse. The horse supplies the intellectual content for the film. The horse dreams of having an opposable thumb so that he can pick up a pistol and shoot himself. Since he cannot, he develops an elaborate scheme of making his owner so angry that the owner will do this for him. Alas, the plan goes awry when the owner realizes he is trapped in a huge philosophical dilemma: If I shoot the horse, I have no horse. To be or not to be, that is the farmer's question. Eventually, the horse, being a true stoic, understands that he can only control himself and not others. He, thus, decides to starve himself to death, as death by boredom would take too long. Does the horse succeed? Watch this two and a half hour film to find out.
So, in short, if you feel you have done something wrong and deserve to be punished, watch this film. Your sins and those of all your ancestors will be forgiven. Thus spake Zarathustra.
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