Bela Tarr's The Turin Horse: The (in)visible Animal
In 2013, two significant works of scholarship were published about the Hungarian auteur director Béla Tarr: Jacques Rancière’s ‘Béla Tarr, The Time After’ and András Bálint Kovács’ ‘The Cinema of Béla Tarr’. My essay synthesis and then problematises these two monographs by studying Tarr’s final film, ‘The Turin Horse’. I argue from the position of Critical Animal Studies that a holistic approach to Tarr’s work must incorporate analyses of his films’ marginal or limit figures. Focusing on the titular horse in particular, my essay contends that the emaciated horse’s spectral presence radically destabilises anthropocentrism and, consequently, the process of filmmaking. The first half of the essay is dedicated to closely reading the film, and in the second half I stage a meditation on the aesthetic and technological phenomenon of cinema. Through the application of biopolitical and materialist frameworks, I end by aligning the cinematic nonhuman animal with Tarr’s retirement from filmmaking.