DMovies - Your platform for thought-provoking cinema
Director - Alexander Kott - 2018

"Greasy movie"
Big budget Russian-Armenian production portrays a tragedy that claimed the lives of 25,000 Armenians and left more than half a million people homeless, at the very end of the Soviet era - from the Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival

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The Armenian genocide of 1915-17, when the Ottomans exterminated up to 1.5 million people (often in extremely cruel and inhumane ways) is a well documented event. But it isn’t the only tragedy that befell the Armenian people in the 20th century. There has been a far more more recent yet lesser-known disaster. On December 7th 1988, shortly before the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Spitak earthquake hit the northern region of the country. While the number of casualties is inferior to the 1915-17 genocide and the deaths weren’t man-inflicted, the scars still remain in the body and the mind of those who survived the earthquake.

The middle-aged and handsome Ghor (Lernik Harutyunyan) has left his wife, daughter and parents behind in search of a better life in Russia. When the earthquake hits Armenia, he attempts to phone his family, but all of the telephone lines have been destroyed. He leaves a woman behind (presumably a lover) and returns in search of his family. Upon arrival, he witness death and destruction everyone, with people desperately scrambling the rubble in search of their relatives, and the rescue operations unable to cope with the high demands.

The photography is splendid. The debris blends with below-freezing temperatures providing the whole film a somber palette ranging between grey and blue. The settings are extremely realistic. The moment a school roof is removed only to reveal several children frozen to death is particularly harrowing. Parallel to Ghor’s search, we see his injured wife and daughter attempting to find a way out of the debris where they are trapped. The film struct