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Ararat - film review

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Set in the Armenian community in Vancouver, Atom Egoyan's Ararat is built around three strands. Raffi's step-sister and lover feuds with his mother, Ani, who has been employed as a consultant on a film about the Armenian genocide of 1915; episodes from that film itself take up a good fraction of the screen time; and Raffi, having visited Turkey, is interrogated by a customs official on suspicion of smuggling drugs.

This structure is easy to follow once introduced, and it helps to solve some problems. How to do dramatic justice to the horrors of genocide without resorting to melodrama? How to incorporate the necessary historical exposition? (Unlike Holocaust films, a film about the Armenian genocide can't assume viewers will have even basic historical background.) And how to convey something of both the historical events and their contemporary legacy?

One or two of the scenes from the film-within-a-film dragged a little, but otherwise the fairly long (115 minute) Ararat never loses focus. It's a powerful and informative film.

This review is dedicated to one-time Usenet hate-spouting robo-poster Serdar Argic, who first brought the horrors of the Armenian genocide to my attention.
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