"l begged him:'Sing something":"No", he replied
and turned toward the wall.
"l only sing for myself", he added after a pause".

"He wrote poetry, wrote wonderful verses on a piece of paper, read them, and then laughed at them".

"Our black Sun..."

From Memories about Komitas


This film, it must be admitted, is not easy to understand. Its overall structure closes into itself rather than opens up, toasealed, impenetable entity.Yet for me this inaccessibility was rather an inducementtoknow more,to learn more about Armenian culture and more about the Armenian destiny.Thus l am surethatthe film can indeed be accessible to those who are interested in its topic; l am sure it is an artistically important film for those who want to understand this repressed and forgotten Situation.

Throughoutthe film,the director's intention is clear: not so much to confrontthe viewerwith the destruction of the Armenian people,the genocide.but rather to presentthe beautyof the Armenian countryside.Armenian culture, and the profound feeling ofdespairatthedownfall.The musician Komitas, with hisdestiny,provides an ideal character to help fulfill this intention.

Not once, in my perception, does the film slide into affectation in its use of aesthetic means.The fusion of aesthetics and ethics, imbuing ńs it does Orthodox theology and Orthodox artistic appreciation, leads to a kind of involvement with place, time and people who exhibit the ability to pause, to reflect, a protection against further catastrophes of the same kind.

The film is important, especially in today's political Situation, where Turkey still denies the genocide,and the USSR is slowly beginning to show more open-mindedness in coming to terms with the pastThis has led to discussion within the church about whether the Protestant Church should take on sponsorship for the showing of such a film in West Germany Not to do so might lead to a revival of the oppressive measures which until now have keptthe general public uninformed about the Armenian catastrophe.This question will continue to be dealt with by Protestant film work.

Hans Werner Dannowski
The Municipal Superintendant
The representative of the CounciI of the German Protestant Church for film matters

"'Komitas' is an original vision of our century's defining crime. Ambitious, gorgeously composed and rigorously demanding, Don Askarian's "Komitas" is nothing less than an attempt to present genocide and its awful aftermath as a collective memory of barbarity rather than a sequence of events".

Desmond Ryan, "The Philadelphia Inquirer" May 7, 1993

"Superior artistry and technical craftsmanship are consistently on view. Still, Askarian's uncompromising views on audience pandering commercial cinema surface repeatedly. His artistic integrity in sticking to his guns command respect, and stand to stoke the international rep he carved out with his first feature, 'Komitas' ".

David Rooney, "Variety" 21 Dec, 1992

If you can sit through this movie, you'll be glad you did. It makes meanings just as an obscure poem, a piece of music, a postmodern dance, make meanings - pushing at the audience without resolving. And somehow, sense is made out of bits and pieces of anguish, insanity and revelation".

Daisy Fried, "Welcomat" May 5, 1993


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