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Atom Egoyan's Ararat

   
 

  Opening Pandora's Box 

   

 

  

 

Noah's ark may or may not have landed on biblical Mount Ararat, but two thousand years later the majestic snow-capped peak remains a powerful symbol.  The Japanese have Mount Fuji, the French Mont Blanc, and the Armenians--Ararat.  In Egoyan's 2002 film Ararat also serves as a symbol for Armenia's difficult past and the attempt by the Armenians to recapture their own history.  The Pandora's box in question is the Armenian Genocide of 1915, still not acknowledged by the government of modern-day Turkey.

In Egoyan's film-within-a-film, Charles Aznavour plays Edward Saroyan, a French-Armenian filmmaker who has recreated the famous Battle of Van and through it hopes to tell the terrible story that his people underwent.  But it is the signature sub-plots, twists, and plain strangeness that make this film, like Egoyan's others, sublime to watch.  There's Arsiné Khanjian as an actress in Saroyan's movie who may or may not have killed her husband, who in turn may or may not have been a terrorist.  Then there's her son Raffi, who is sleeping with his half-sister and growing marijuana in a huge loft… 

The most fascinating aspect of the film may well be Egoyan's foray into the idea that historical truths are not absolute and that all that art can do is perhaps provide a glimpse into the history of a nation.  Witness the woman who slashes a famous Gorky painting, or the video that Raffi shoots of now-destroyed Armenian churches in Turkey--all attempts to heal a complex and tragic past.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

       
 

Rent: Ararat, a film by Atom Egoyan 

Read: Egoyan, online

 

Tags:  film  armenia      

 

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