Review Drama : THE CUT (NC16) - Surviving the Armenian genocide

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This drama is about the period leading to, during and after the 1915 genocide of ethnic Armenians at the hands of the Ottoman Empire. After surviving the horrors of the conflict, blacksmith Nazaret Manoogian (Tahar Rahim) learns that his twin daughters are still alive. He sets out to find them, embarking on a journey that will take him from Turkey across Asia, to Cuba and the United States.

This handsomely mounted pan-European production tries to wrap its arms around an event that took place exactly 100 years ago, the consequences of which echo today in diplomatic quarrels over the definition of "genocide" and in the ethnic makeup of parts of the world that took in the diaspora that followed the war.

In 1915, within the boundaries of modern-day Turkey, soldiers of the Ottoman empire systematically killed between 1 million and 1.5 million members of the Armenian minority population.

German film-maker of Turkish origin Fatih Akin works with a screenplay from Mardik Martin, an American of Armenian ancestry, the writer behind Martin Scorsese's Mean Streets (1973), New York, New York (1977) and Raging Bull (1980).

The genocide took place over a protracted period and large expanse of land and this film tries to bring it down to a human scale by placing the naive, largely innocent Nazaret in the midst of the action.

Things that happen to him - the round-up, work camp and executions - are detailed and intimate. As Russian dictator Joseph Stalin said, the death of one is a tragedy and the death of millions is a statistic, and the film's use of Nazaret is effective.

Death, when it comes, is shocking, intimate and dirty. Except for one scene taking place in a refugee tent city populated by the dead and dying, there are no large-scale ensemble scenes or people on the march or military manoeuvres.

Akin, in a less successful artistic touch, at times uses anachronistic electronic music in the soundtrack.

The second and less successful half of the film attempts a portrait of the diaspora experience. While beautifully lensed, it feels like an overlong, padded-out road movie.

The Cut will be screened on a regular schedule only at The Projector, at Golden Mile Tower, Beach Road.

 
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