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People tell stories. In Toronto, an art historian lectures on Arshile Gorky (1904?-1948), an Armenian painter who lived through the genocide in Turkey in 1915. A director invites the historian to help him include Gorky's story in a film about the genocide and Turkish assault on the town of Van. The historian's family is under stress: her son is in love with his step-sister, who blames the historian for the death of her father. The daughter wants to revisit her father's death and change that story. An aging customs agent tells his son about his long interview with the historian's son, who has returned from Turkey with canisters of film. Parents and children. All the stories connect. Written by
[takes out pomegranate]
You can't bring this in.
No fruit or vegetables, that includes pomegranates. it's on your form.
I like to eat the seed of this fruit. One each day. For luck.
I'm sorry, that's not allowed.
[Mr Saroyan takes out his penknife and cuts the fruit open]
What are you doing?
This way, I don't need to bring it in. I eat it here, at the gate of your country. Look
[takes a bite and nods agreeingly]
So, I bring luck in my stomach. Will you try it?
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Closing disclaimers: 1) The historical events in this film have been substantiated by holocaust scholars, national archives, and eyewitness accounts, including that of Clarence Ussher. 2) To this day, Turkey continues to deny the Armenian Genocide of 1915. See more »
Written by Gord Downie (as Gordon Downie) and Atom Egoyan
Performed by Gord Downie (as Gordon Downie)
From the album "Coke Machine Glow"
Courtesy of Wiener Art Records - copyright 2000
Copyright 2000 - Wiener Art (SOCAN)/Egoyan Ego Film Arts (SOCAN) See more »
Fantastic - and with more layers than you might imagine.
If you are expecting a historic epic about the Armenian genocide this isn't it.
Instead it is a finely crafted, tightly directed look at the historical events of 1915 and how it has affected those that followed. Focusing on four generations, from an Armenian artist who survived the genocide in Van through to Raffi, a Canadian Armenian in his early twenties (played brilliantly by David Alpay in his professional debut) you need to know nothing about the history to get something from this film about the nature of humanity.
The direction is Egoyan's usual unusual style - juxtaposing images one on top of the other to stunning effect, although his narrative style of jumping from thread to thread (and generation to generation) does take some getting used to.
This film will be controversial because of the subject matter, but it isn't two hours of Turk bashing, despite what some of its more biased detractors would say. It does take several of the oft quoted explanations for the genocide and answer them head on, but there are no easy answers.
If you want a film that will leave you stunned both thematically and stylistically then this really is it. I'm now arranging to see it for a second time!
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