SaroyanLand is a docu-drama focusing on the journey of famous writer William Saroyan to the birthplace of his Armenian family Bitlis, in Turkey in 1964. While retaking the same road, the ...
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SaroyanLand is a docu-drama focusing on the journey of famous writer William Saroyan to the birthplace of his Armenian family Bitlis, in Turkey in 1964. While retaking the same road, the film aims to understand Saroyan's unique attitude to belonging, witnessing the self-discovery of a man who followed the traces of his Armenian ancestors.Written by
A sober, sometimes beautiful story of inevitable disappointment
The man who said "You can't go home again" wasn't even Armenian. How much more true the saying is for a man born across the ocean from what he thinks of as home, when the whole community he thinks of as his own has disappeared from there. William Saroyan idealized his father (at least in the passages the movie quotes; not everywhere else) and he wrote a poem that the movie quotes about Lake Van, which is back in the old country, when he'd never seen the place. So although his father's home town in the old country may be picturesque (and it's to the movie's credit that the homeland doesn't look too sentimentalized that way), it can't measure up to the expectations of the fellow born in exile. The disappointment is seldom explicit, but the movie doesn't really need to do more than quote Saroyan while showing his father's home town of Bitlis: "There wasn't an Armenian in the crowd." Elsewhere, the movie quotes Saroyan (where exactly these quotations come from is hard to tell if you don't remember reading them, although the sources are listed as a bunch at the end of the movie) as saying that actually people are just people. In other words, this particularization of the Armenians is just a device. I'm sure he meant it, but I'm also sure he didn't mean it. In the well selected quotes from Saroyan and the accompanying (but not slavishly accompanying) visuals, the film slowly and respectfully lays out the situation, which in today's world is a situation many of us share in relation to our heritage.
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