DON ASKARIAN ON HIS FILM

Guided by pain, l extend my hand and it thrusts against them. The souls of 2 million murdered circle over your and my head, over Ararat...
Tobacco, from which the "Camel" cigarette has been made, that l am just lighting, reflecting on written
phrases, grow out of the cracked skull of my grandfather, who perished in Erzurum.
On October 10,1984, l sat in the kitchen of our apartment in Berlin, opposite me, on the electrical fuse box, stood the angel and looked at me through the leaves of a philodendron plant, l raised my head and it was no longer there.
Then they both appeared.
In vertical flight, beating though air with powerful wings, turning vehemently and touching their heads...
The silk of the hair and the secret luster of the lilac feather.
From time to time the assassinated twist and turn on their invisible resting places thus creating those earth-quakes in Turkey that specialists say are caused by changes in the earth's crust.
The very strange, almost surrealistic humor of a person swinging on the gallows of world history, the cheeky and distorted smile of a hanged person.
This unbelievable recollection, this Spiritual energy of the circling souls overtakes me at every turn, tears one... l would have been dead for a long time had l not produced "Komitas". l did not conceive the film, not construct. l hate symbolism.
My only hope is that paltry rest of good and beauty that in the hearts of men dies off.
You say: we know too little about Komitas and Armenian history, and for this reason (not just for this
reason, the film and the characters are so reserved) the chance of the film being understood is very slight.
But, what is a feature film? "Komitas" is certainly not a scientific treatise on the composer and Armenian history. The film does not adhere to any scientific system and cannot be understood in scientific terms. "Komitas" does not employ argumentative means. It is not the cinema's task to activate the audience's logical capacities.
The two most important forms of perceiving reality (the scientific and the art-aesthetic) differ in principle.
In "Komitas", an artistic image of the composer's earthly and spiritual biography has been created. The artistic image perceives reality in an intuitive, emotional way. It is extremely subjective, indivisible and cannot be analyzed in scientific terms. It is a hieroglyph of reality.
The artistic image is a revelation. Reality is reflected in the artistic image in its entirety and in its contradictions.' The artistic recognition of reality is ethical and the form of this recognition is catharsis.
"Komitas" is reserved in the intellectual sense but not on an emotional level. One is meant to experience and feel.
The shattering experience of beauty is catharsis (cleansing), it elevates man ethically Giving birth to this spiritual-ethical substance in man is the true task of the cinema. Cinema could be defined as mediation of spiritual-ethical energy. Pure knowledge is ethically neutral. Art, therefore, is and should be extremely subjective. Pure knowledge intransient. New knowledge is constantly pushing aside the old. We are incapable of retaining everything in our heads. The spiritual-ethical substance, once given birth within man, is constant in mankind from committing the most abhorrent crimes. It is my deep conviction that only ethically existing individualism, and not thinking beings; are capable of saving this maddened world. Furthermore, it has been scientific progress, in alliance with spiritual barbary, that is responsible for the warped situation in which we now live.
l do not understand your reference to "Fantasy" regarding "Komitas". Two-thirds of the film is based on concrete facts. lt could be that you were referring to his dreams and vision? But these are as important and real for the soul as the visible reality. Religious literature is full of examples in which a vision or a dream completely changed a person's life.
Perhaps Christianity, which has influenced the fate of this warred in such an unforeseeable way, arose out of the single vision of a simple woman, the Virgin Mary.
The internal world of Komitas can be put on film. Concentrating on the inner world of the composer does not imply that we are distancing ourselves from reality. This reality is reflected in our infernal warred.
The path described here could also lead us towards other realities and other heavens, helping us to meditate upon fate and death. 
The artistic idea, if it is genuine, has countless faces and meanings. That is why l find it difficult to talk about the "clear cuff" reception by an audience. There are probably as many ways of "receiving" a work of art as there are viewers. Who is the phantom viewer to whom the film maker is to orient himself? There is simply no doubt that the majority of "viewers" have been deprived by commercial TV and cinema of the capacity to make their own judgments, clichés determine their reception. We must not hold them in contempt because of this. At the same time, we must not subjugate the cinema to the standards which hold the human spirit in contempt. The moment we do this, we become incapable of making wonderful films.

Don Askarian.

.

close this window