- Independent Journalism From Today's Armenia
 May 2, 2003 

Homage to Heroes: "Aram" reflects Genocide and Karabakh and one man's struggle

A poster of the film ARAM.

It is the war in Karabakh and children are curled up in underground pits away from terrible sounds of the mortal bombing attacks.

Their eyes are full of fear and anguish looking shocked to their grieving mothers.

An old woman stands in the ruins of her house: "I want peace, give us peace only."

This is the beginning of "Aram", the first full-length film by director Robert Keshishian. The movie has been running in Paris for three months and opened at Yerevan's Moscow Cinema last week.

The plot of the film is connected to Paris, where Aram (played by Simon Abgaryan) secretly returns after his family thought he'd been lost in Karabakh. Aram schemes to revenge Genocide victims and the crippling of a brother in Karabakh by assassinating a Turkish general.

While Genocide is not an explicit theme of the movie, audiences grasp its context.

Robert Keshishian and Serge Avedikyan during the press conference.

"Keshishyan stresses his individuality with his movie 'Aram' through family tragedy and terrorism by emphasizing fresh wounds of the Genocide," wrote Le Marseilles newspaper. "Robert Keshishyan portrays Paris as an unknown city, hiding its secrets with specific carefulness in one of the main night scene's followed by monotonous, depressing music, which associates the Armenian Genocide of 1915-1916.

"There are numerous night images of Paris in the movie, when harmony of black and white transforms to various hues; Armenian songs, sounding more like sufferers' protest cries; significant glances that are more frequent than dialogs."

A man walks in the night darkness silent with his eyes unblinking and at the same time watches eyes of his enemies or companions-in-arms. His eyes are all-out and exhausted, but are full of fire; his soul is full of love and revenge. He is Aram, murderer and son seeking revenge and justice and ready to kneel before his father with tears in his eyes, and ask for forgiveness.

"Aram is a character I would like to become, but I cannot because I've promised to my parents, which had already lost other three sons," director Keshishyan says. The 63 year old artist, a native of Paris, is in Armenia for the first time, saying that he had promised himself and the memory of his parents that he would not come to Armenia until he shot the movie.

"Aram" has played at Moscow Cinema in Yerevan since last week.

"I wanted to step in to the motherland after I had become its real son. I wanted to tell this land I had done whatever I could and had to."

The idea of shooting this movie arose in 1988-1989 together with Armenian national movement and Karabakh war.

Aram's character is based on the biography of Soghomon Tehleryan's, who assassinated a Turkish ambassador. It also has some characteristics of Karabakh hero Monte Melkonyan a Diaspora who was killed in the war.

Keshishian named the movie for his father who he says became an orphan and emigrant at age 14.

"Aram is the perfect aggregate of my filial love and humanity, he is the general character who stood up to struggle for freedom. I pay my tribute to Karabakh heroes and try to make them immortal trough Aram's character," Keshishyan says.


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