Contemporary World Cinema
SIFF Says:German-Turkish filmmaker Fatih Akin with co-writer Mardik Martin (RAGING BULL, MEAN STREETS) turns his attention toward the 1915 Armenian genocide in his new, continent-crossing epic. Armenian Christian and blacksmith Nazareth is captured from his home and torn away from his dear wife and two daughters by Ottoman authorities who quickly turn him into a slave laborer. Resigned to working nonstop to build a road in the dusty, unyielding desert, time painfully passes. In a confrontation between the Ottomans, civilian Turks, and the prisoners, Nazareth gets his throat cut and becomes mute, yet in the chaos he sneakily escapes. Thus begins his quest towards reuniting with his daughters, who he learns are still alive setting Nazareth off on a harsh journey that will take him several years and thousands of miles. Akin delivers a compelling and visually extravagant film that expertly shows the historical horrors of the time and the extremes a man will go to in order to keep his family together.
This is a brutal one. Beginning with World War I and the Armenian genocide, there are scenes of murder, rape, enslavement, and more of the evils that humans do to one another. But the movie also follows a journey that includes amazing landscapes, gorgeous period detail, and a heartfelt (if somewhat implausible) story. (GILLIAN ANDERSON)
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