Reviews - English

Nor Gyank / Los Angeles
The Japan Times
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The Philadelphia Festival 
of World Cinema 
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Torronto Film Festival
What’s on in London
Armenian genocide of 1915 examined in pair of films at MFA, Boston
IFF Rotterdam - Musicians
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Hayastani Hanrapetutiun
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Dagens Nyheter
Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Film Archive
On Screen

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This beautiful, enigmatic film draws its inspiration from the life of Komitas (b. 1869), an Armenian monk and composer who spent his last twenty years in mental hospitals after witnessing the Turks' slaughter of over two million of his countrymen in 1915. Filled with mad arrogance, the film is the polar opposite of a conventional biopic: it refuses logical connections and seems to be trying to depict its protagonist's state of mind, as a world whose sensuous presence manifests itself in every frame slowly trickles, drips, spills, topples or crumbles away. The hermetic style and slow pace of Komitas may alienate many-and its imagery will surely remind wags of the description Gene Hackman's character gives of an Eric Rohmer movie in Night Moves: "like watching paint dry." Yet the filmmaker's refusal to obey the rules of traditional narrative will earn the grudging respect of many viewers, particularly those moved by Askarian's belief that "all culture is created by hermits and recluses." And surely all spectators will reap rich rewards in the film's many startlingly beautiful images-one of the cameramen is the great Arvanitis, responsible for the stunning camerawork in so many of Angelopoulos' films (c.f. Landscape in the Mist).

Peter Scarlet


Friday March 17 1989

Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Film Archive