“I am Armenian, he is Turkish, he is a murderer!”
So shout Soghomon Tehlirian in Berlin in 1921 after the open street shooting dead Talaa Pasha, Turkey’s former interior minister and one of them who was behind the genocide of one and a half million Armenians. The film takes off in a black and white prologue, in the beginning of history, where the Armenian struggle for the restoration begins.
Guédiguian sticks his nose in this political hornet’s nest that is still ongoing, but he does it, of course, in its own way, more complicated and more problematize – albeit he has the Spanish José Antonio Gurriaráns book as a model – but of course we end up in Marseille in the late 1970s when the film is in color. There, the family Alexandrian have their store “Ararat” and live their Armenian-French life where gammelmormorn can let enough so militant, but where the father and mother – wonderfully played by Simon Abkarian and Ariane Ascaride – most want peace and quiet. The son Aram would however fight and finally he is the one that triggers the bomb that not only kills the Turkish ambassador in Paris but also mutilate the young Gilles who happened to ride past.
And Guédiguian let all these conditions come together and alloyed, what revenge, what is justice, what is forgiveness and apology? In the end, it is Gilles who look to her grandmother’s ashes buried in mother earth, but so too Gilles received the apology and the compensation Armenians denied. Where shows Guédiguian in his gentle but inexorable way, what people need from each other.
In spite of his Armenian heritage would Guédigian constantly emphasize his loyalty to the internationalist, cosmopolitan approach – all chauvinism is him deeply alien. In the texts dedicated movie “To my Turkish friends.”