Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

January 30, 2015

“White God,” “The Turin Horse” and “Au Hasard Balthazar”

Filed under: Counterpunch,Film — louisproyect @ 4:37 pm
“White God,” “The Turin Horse” and “Au Hasard Balthazar”

The Cinema of Cruelty

by LOUIS PROYECT

As the Academy Awards draw near, it seems appropriate to write about three films light years removed from the Hollywood film industry that are united by the theme of cruelty to animals and that wear their art film credentials proudly (even though one film subverts pulp genres).

One is “The Turin Horse”, the final film made by auteur extraordinaire Béla Tarr over a thirty-seven year career and that is inspired by an anecdote about Nietzsche coming to the aid of a horse being beaten by its livery cab owner. In an interview with the Hollywood Reporter, he was asked to name a film that had real quality. His answer was Aki Kaurismaki’s “Le Havre”, a film he “really loved”, as did I. ( When the Hollywood Reporter began mentioning that it might receive an Oscar for best foreign language film, Tarr interrupted him:

Who cares about this stupidity? You know what I mean. This kind of quality is not for the Academy Awards. This kind of quality and sensibility is for you and the other people – for personal use. The others are just part of a fucked-up business, which is not my business.

Béla Tarr came to mind after seeing “White God” at a press screening a while back. Directed by fellow Hungarian Kornél Mundruczó, it about the mistreatment of a teen girl’s beloved dog Hagen by various people and institutions. As such, I decided to write about the two films as well as about Robert Bresson’s “Au Hasard Balthazar”, a 1966 film about the abuse of a donkey—a work that I had somehow ignored despite Godard’s comment: “Everyone who sees this film will be absolutely astonished…because this film is really the world in an hour and a half.

full review

Trailers for films under review:

1 Comment »

  1. White God reminds me a bit of an overlooked Hollywood pic from the 80’s, Project X. That movie has it’s share of Hollywood silliness but I’ve always thought it had a deeply subversive message — chimps break loose from their cages and try to destroy the military-industrial complex in their own small way.

    Comment by Rojo — February 2, 2015 @ 7:45 pm


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