The news that Hungary has submitted Bela Tarr's The Turin Horse, his two-and-a-half hour black and white movie about poor folk who eat potatoes, as their Oscar submission filled me with so much delight. More delight than should ever actually come out of that gruelling film, I reckon. You've gotta appreciate a country doing something like this when there was surely something about WWII that they could submit and have an easier chance at recognition. Perhaps the Hungarians saw the out of left field nominations for Yorgos Lanthimos's Dogtooth from Greece, as well as the even more potato-centric The Milk of Sorrow of Peru and thought "Hey, why not?"
Even after the surprise of Dogtooth amidst the Oscar nominations earlier this year, I can't say I hold much hope for The Turin Horse. However, never give up hope! Maybe, just maybe, the foreign language committee branch (or whatever they call themselves these days) will want to humour the Oscar purists and nominate it. Not that it wouldn't be a worthy nomination mind you - I very much liked it, despite the nightclub drag act the screening fiasco had in stall for us - but just an incredibly baffling one that would sure confuse anybody who should happen to blindly go into a screening based purely on such a hypothetical nomination. Not every country has submitted their chosen film, but it's hard to not see A Separation as the already gung ho favourite, yeah?
Thanks to the ever dependable Guy Lodge at InContention, I have been reminded that Hungary - ever the eyebrow raisers, apparently - submitted György Pálfi's Taxidermia several years back, which I am assuming didn't get very far in the Oscar screening rooms. Unless you count the number of sick bags and hurried trips to the nearest sink/rubbish bin/quiet corner, in which case I imagine it was a raging success! The Turin Horse, with it's pared back visuals, claustrophobic sound design, brutally slow plodding pace and dry, very, very dry, sense of humour will no doubt be a tough watch for the supposedly elderly branch members, but if they really want to see fit to bestow nominations upon the most interesting, acclaimed and wellmade foreign films of the year then they could do far, far worse than The Turin Horse. Of course.