Home Arts The past within the present

The past within the present

by Archives October 30, 2002

In 1915, as World War One occupied the lives of so many, an internal conflict within the borders of Turkey began to destroy many as well.

In eastern Turkey in the Armenian town of Van, an entire culture was destroyed. The genocide of 1.5 million Armenians is still controversial and for many, remains completely unknown.

With Ararat, Atom Egoyan (Exotica, The Sweet Hereafter) brings to light the destruction of an entire city and the continuing effect it has on the Armenian community around the world. Ararat is not only a film about genocide and war, but of denial and the emotional trials people suffer from untold truths and loss.

The film, inspired by Egoyan’s own Armenian-Canadian roots, is told through many people’s lives. However, it is made historically relevant through the real life experiences of Arshile Gorky and Charles Ussher. Gorky, an Armenian artist who lived through the genocide as a boy, and Ussher, an American surgeon who served in a mission during the Armenian destruction, are central to the lives of the other characters within the film.

There is nothing simple about Ararat and the story it tells. The loss that each character feels in this film stems from the overpowering destruction of what took place in Van.

Edward Saroyan (Charles Aznayour) sets out to make a film about Ussher based on his journal ‘An American Physician in Turkey’ and seeks the help of Ani (Arsin

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