by Phillip Wilcox "Our Movie Demon"
Historical dramas can do more than just provide great stories to be entertained by. They can also be a great learning tool. Something to teach you about a part of history that maybe people never really knew about, while at the same time perhaps adding in a fictional component to keep you entertained and interested. But when written, filmed, and performed well, that historical drama can have the ability to be truly effective in making you want to know more and learn more about that specific event in the film.
I loved history class in school and it was one of a very few select classes I actually did well in. I'm always of the philosophy that one cannot full appreciate what's being done today unless they know and appreciate what came before. So perhaps that is why I always found history so fascinating. Not necessarily just the class in school, but just the topic of history. It was always my question: How did we, as a planet, as a species, as a culture, a society, get to this point? What lead us all here to where we are now as human beings? Sure, as I mentioned, I find it all fascinating. But it can also be disheartening and frustrating learning about historic events, as not many of them were good natured event. And also the truth can get twisted along the years and different versions of a story can get created along the way as it gets told by different people.
Ararat explores that as it tells of the Armenian genocide of 1915 by the Turks and how it affects the Armenian culture generations later. As much as I enjoyed this film, I was able to break it down as such: Essentially this was a history lesson as told through a mosaic of up to eight different characters as a film production is being made about that horrendous event. It jumps back and forth from character to character as their personal issues get interwined with what had happened to the Armenian culture. In the jumping back and forth, it can sometimes get convoluted and challenging to follow. So it's up to the viewer watching this film to really pay attention to what's being said and what it is. There were genuine scenes of heartfelt and remarkable performances from actors and actresses like Christopher Plummer, David Alpay, Arsinée Kahnjian, Charles Aznavour, Marie-Josée Croze, Elias Koteas and Bruce Greenwood. Filmmaker Atom Egoyan really took charge, as he has with his past films, and it just felt like this was such a personal project for him by how much emotion was invested in the subject matter. I won't lie, the result of the film Hollywood film they had made within this film was so much harder to watch than I thought it would be. The atrocities of that genocide shown were devastating. In closing I felt this was a such an important film and maybe not a whole lot of people would know about this event in history, so I invite anyone who love watching historical dramas with amazing actors would enjoy this picture.
Writer/Director: Atom Egoyan
Starring: Simon Abkarian, Charles Aznavour, Christopher Plummer, Arsinée Kahnjian, David Alpay, Marie-Josée Croze, Elias Koteas, Eric Bogosian, Bruce Greenwood
Running Time: 1 hr 55 mins
How It Can Be Seen: DVD