‘Mutter, ich bin dumm’

«Et il y a six hommes,
un pour chaque soleil,
et un septième homme
qui est le soleil tout
habillé de noir et de chair rouge.

Or, ce septième homme
est un cheval,
un cheval avec un homme qui le mène.

Mais c’est le cheval
qui est le soleil
et non l’homme».

– Artaud, “Tutuguri – Le Rite du Soleil Noir”, 1925.



  1. dumb, silent, mute, unable to speak;
  2. dumb, stupid.

“The Turin Horse” (2011), Béla Tarr

«In Turin on January 3rd 1889, Friedrich Nietzsche steps out of the door of number 6, 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 that 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 for two days, still and silent, on a divan, until at last he mutters the obligatory last words: “Mutter, ich bin dumm” (“Mother, I’m foolish”).

He lives for another 10 years, gentle and demented, in the care of his mother and sisters.

Of the horse… we know nothing.»

«- Hey, you!

– What is it?

– Can’t you hear them either?

– What?

– The woodworm: they’re not making any noise. 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 gaze on the window. The girl stares at the ceiling, her father at the window. At times tiles can be heard falling down from the roof, and shattering noisily.
The gale roars relentlessly around the house.»

« – I had to realize, and I did realize, that I was mistaken, I was truly mistaken, when I thought… that there has never been, and could never be, any kind of change here on Earth. Because, believe me, I know now… that this change has indeed taken place.

– Come off it! That’s rubbish!»

«- What’s that? What’s happening?

– A cart’s approaching.

– Who are they?

– Gypsies, I think.

– What the fuck do they want here?

– I don’t know, but they’re coming this way!

– The stinking rotten bastards!

– What shall we do?

– Go and chase them away! What are you waiting for? Get moving!

– There’s water here. Come and help! Come and help, papa! Come on, hey! Come and drink! Hold the horse… Look! Here comes the girl… Here’s the girl. Her eyes are like the devil’s…

– Get away from here! Go away! What are you doing here? Get away from here!

– Come with us!

– I won’t! I’m not going anywhere!

– Come with us to America!

– Are you deaf? Let me go! I’m not going with you! God forbid!

– You’ll like it there!

– I don’t care! Let go!

– Fuck you, sons of bitches! Get the hell out of here! I’ll rip your guts out, for fuck’s sake! Dirty rotten gypsies!

– This is for the water…

– He’ll kill me! Papa! Papa! Faster! Just come over here, you worm…! We’ll be back! The water is ours! The earth is ours! You’re weak! You’re weak! Drop dead! Drop dead! Drop dead!»

«The storm continues to rage outside. The wind still sweeps relentlessly across the land from the same direction. But now there is nothing in its path to obstruct it. Only a great cloud of dust whipped up by the wind rushes recklessly forward. Bone-dry dust and ravaging nothingness which the wind rolls before it as it rages unbridled over the barren land.»

«- Why don’t you eat? You’re not going anywhere… Drink! At least drink a little water! For my sake!»


Interview by Vladan Petkovic (excerpts)

«Béla Tarr: So, the horse has an owner and this owner is maybe as famished as the horse. There’s his daughter and somebody is falling out of this triangle. When one of them is out, the relationship is over. It’s really quite simple. (…)

When you’re doing a movie, you don’t do theories. I just look for locations. A location has a face – it’s one of the main characters. So I found this little valley in Hungary and the lonely tree. There wasn’t a house, we had to build it. I hate artificial sets, so we made a real house out of stone and wood. We also built the well and the stable. (…)

The Turin Horse is about the heaviness of human existence. How it’s difficult to live your daily life, and the monotony of life. We didn’t want to talk about mortality or any such general thing. We just wanted to see how difficult and terrible it is when every day you have to go to the well and bring the water, in summer, in winter… All the time. The daily repetition of the same routine makes it possible to show that something is wrong with their world. It’s very simple and pure. (…)

Now, I can just say it’s quite heavy and I don’t know what is coming, but I can see something that is very close – the end. Before the shooting I knew this would be my last film. (…)

Our starting point was Nietzsche’s sentence, “God is dead”. This character [the visitor] says, “We destroyed the world and it’s also God’s fault,” which is different from Nietzsche. The key point is that the humanity, all of us, including me, are responsible for destruction of the world. But there is also a force above human at work – the gale blowing throughout the film – that is also destroying the world. So both humanity and a higher force are destroying the world. (…)
The apocalypse is a huge event. But reality is not like that. In my film, the end of the world is very silent, very weak. So the end of the world comes as I see it coming in real life – slowly and quietly. Death is always the most terrible scene, and when you watch someone dying – an animal or a human – it’s always terrible, and the most terrible thing is that it looks like nothing happened

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