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PART I. Chapter 3: ARARAT: Art or Propaganda?

Asst. Prof. Dr. Sedat LAÇİNER*
Art and Armenian Propaganda: Ararat as a Case Study


In this section, firstly the script of Ararat is studied and the message it tries to convey is examined with the help of examples. Secondly, we look into the technical and recording methods used in the film. Thirdly, the director and the actors taking part in the movie are introduced. Egoyan’s life and experiences were discussed in the last section. Forth part deals with the political connections, environment in which the movie was made and the film’s financial sources. Lastly, we examine the response of the Western media to Ararat.


According to the script, there are two time-lines in the film, A style of ‘a movie within a movie’ was used, The movie deals with a director Edward Sarayon (Charles Aznavour) who wants to make a movie about so called ‘Armenian genocide’, actors who play in the movie and their reminisces. Many characters play in more than one role. For example, Bruce Greenwood plays both the actor Martin and the American missionary Dr. Clarence Ussher. The story is based on a young Armenian driver (David Alpay) working at the movie set, whose life changes as the movie is made. As with other Egoyan movies, there are a few unusual or twisted characters. The most important point of the movie is that, while the movie is about relations between Turks and Armenians, there is only one Turkish character and he is a half-Turkish gay named Ali.[1] Ali also plays the ‘bad Turk’, the Governor of Van Cevdet Bey. All Armenian Characters in the movie are ‘troubled’, The focus of all their issues is Turks and the bad memories that they have caused. These memories are so strong that the even the current generation cannot free themselves from their destructive influence. This is conveyed by the unfortunate situation that Raffi and Celia are in.

If we summarize Ararat, the film begins with a famous director’s efforts to make a movie about the conflict between Armenians and Turks in 1915. In the movie director Edward is an Armenian, who lost most of his family in 1915, and is trying to fulfill a promise he made to his mother.

“Edward (to Martin, full of emotion)- Pointing to a photo of Ararat - This was the mountain my mother never saw after her family was destroyed (More)

Edward (Cont’d): Butchered in front of her eyes. Ararat was her dream. This is my gift to her spirit...” (A dialogue between Martin and Edward: 5 and 6)

Edward is so full of hate towards the Turks that he is willing to take liberties in the movie. for example, Mount Ararat is so far away from the city of Van that it cannot be seen from there. However, he constructs a Mount Ararat right behind the city. When told that this is incorrect, he replies that he is doing this in order to increase the effectiveness of the movie and is taking some “poetic license”.

In the first scene of the movie, Edward says that he always wanted to make such a film, but when asked why he did not do it before, his assistant Rouben replies:

“Rouben: Because, the Armenian genocide has no resolution. The Turkish government has never admitted their crime, so it’s like a story without an end. ....“ (The Script of Ararat, 4)

A person gets the feeling that Atom Egoyan sees himself in the character of Edward, and indirectly is telling his story. His earlier statements tell us that he has desired to make such a movie for years. he answers the question of why he did not do it before by using a character in his movie.

Egoyan says that the movie is based on the memoirs of Clarence Ussher, which was published in 1917 in Boston. In other words, it is a true story (Dialog between Martin and Edward: Scene 5). There are two messages sent to the Western public by this attitude: 1. What you are watching is the truth, 2. What you are watching was written by a respectable American like you.

The character Ali appears within the first few scenes. Edward and Rouben choose to cast a Turk in the role of the “brutal” governor of Van, Cevdet Bey. Their search leads them to a Canadian born half-Turkish, Ali. Ali, at the same time is in a homosexual relationship with a security guard in a museum, Philip who also has a son. It can be said that the character of Ali seems to be included in the movie in order to confirm Armenian accusations. A dialog between Ali, the director and Raffi, after recording the Cevdet Pasha scenes seems to prove this:

“Ali is having publicity photographs taken as Edward stops by.

Edward: ‘I wanted to thank you.’

Ali: ‘Are you kidding? This was a huge break for me. You’re one of my favorite directors. Thank you.’

Ali and Edward shake hands A moment as the two men look at each other.

Ali (Cont’d: Can I ask something? Did you cast me just because I’m half Turkish?

Edward: ‘No. It was because I thought you would be perfect for the part.

Ali: ‘But being Turkish didn’t hurt.’

Edward smiles.

Edward: ‘No it didn’t hurt.’

Ali: ‘You never asked me what I thought of the history’.

Edward: ‘What is there to think’

Ali: ‘Whether I believe it happened. A genocide.’

Edward: ‘I’m not sure it matters...’ (...)‘[2]

‘The Reason of Our Hate is not the People or Lands We Lost’

In the continuing scene, Ali says that Turks had reasons to kill Armenians and implicitly accept that ‘Turks massacred Armenians’. According to Ali, this reason was Russian invasion and the Turks were afraid of that Armenians would assist the

Russians. These words surprise Edward, he does not accept them but neither does he say anything. He only says, ‘Whatever, again, Thank you.’ This scene is where the ‘wise Armenian’ and the ‘poor Turk’ meet. Raffi, who listened to this conversation, is shocked. It seems like Raffi is upset that Edward did not put Ali in his place. Edward’s reply to Raffi is both short and clear:

“Edward: ‘He’s having regrets about playing the part. I understand. tie will receive anger from his people.

Raffi: But he thinks that Turkey[3] was at war with Armenia. Why didn’t you explain that the Armenians were Turkish citizens? That they had a right to be protected. It was ethnic mass murder.

(pause, Edward waits) Doesn’t it bother you that he doesn’t get the history?

Edward: Not really.

Raffi: ‘Why not?’

Edward: Because he is history. His part is over,’[4]

This scene ends with these words of Edward to Raffi:

“Edward (Cont’d) Do you know what still causes so much pain? It is not the people we lost, or the land. It’s to know that we could be SO hated. Who were these people who could hate us so much? Now can be they still deny their hatred, and so hate us even more?”[5]

However, this dialogue had failed to satisfy, maybe the most important character in the movie, Raffi. he wants to understand how that ‘Turk’ could ‘deny’ what happened. When he drops of Ali to his home, he tells him that he played the part of the “brutal” governor very well and adds:

“Raffi: ‘I mean, I was raised with all these stories, evil Turks and everything, so I’m a little hardened to it all. But what you did today... it made me feel all that anger again,’

Ali: ‘Hey... thanks’.

Pause. They have come to a stop. Ali pauses before getting out.

Ali (Cont’d): ‘So... I guess you’re Armenia.’

Raffi: ‘Yes. That’s what I mean when I said I was raised to feel a Jot of hatred to... the person you’ve playing.’

Ali: ‘Right.[6]

A Son Who ‘Understands’ His Father Who is an ASALA Terrorist

According to the script, Ali answers confused Raffi, with just a short laugh and asks, “Did you want to kill me”. Raffi hesitates, but says, “Well, yes”. If we can add a small detail, Raffi’s father was a terrorist in ASALA and was killed by police as he was planning to assassinate a Turkish diplomat.

Ali replies to Raffi with a nervous laugh. Raffi’s words after this is, for us, one of the most important statements of the movie:

‘Raffi (Cont’d): ‘My Dad was killed trying to assassinate a Turkish diplomat. Almost fifteen years ago. I could never understand what would make him want to murder, what he had to imagine that Turkish ambassador represented. Today, you gave me a sense of what was going on in his head. And I want to thank you’.

Ali (uneasy): ‘You’re... you’re welcome.

As mentioned earlier, it can be seen clearly that the character of Ali is used by Egoyan to justify Armenian accusations. Through the insensitive and superficial Ali character, all Turks are being criticized and are accused of ‘denial’. The dialogue between Ali and Raffi in the scene ‘44A, Inside. Ali’s apartment’ plainly shows the purpose of Egoyan. Ali, after hearing that there had been a ‘genocide’ at that time, just smiles. Ali looks indifferent and then makes such a weak defense that seems like he is giving credence to the Armenian accusations:

“Ali: ‘Look, I never heard about any of this as I was growing up. I did some research for the part, and from what I’ve read... there were deportations. Lots of people died. Armenians and Turks. It was World War One’.[8]

Ali makes this statement for virtually in the name of all Turkish people. however, his defense is so weak that it seems that his statements are there in order to support the ‘strong’ Armenian theory. Accordingly, Raffi immediately answers Ali’s weak defense:

“Raffi: ‘But Turkey wasn‘t at war with the Armenians, just like Germany’s wasn’t at war with the Jews. They were Turkish citizens, expecting to be protected. The scene you just shot is based on an eyewitness account. Your character, Jevdet Bey, was placed in Van to carry out the complete elimination of the Armenian race. There were telegrams, communiqués. .. "[9]

In the movie there is no statement about the reason why Cevdet Bey was appointed to his post in Van province. No telegraphs or messages. However, Egoyan using the ‘power of cinema’ gives credibility to his characters’ statements. At the same time, it is obvious that he confuses forceful settlement with uprising. The uprisings of the armed Armenians living around Van, their Muslim victims and thousands who had to flee Van seems to be ignored by Egoyan. Furthermore, the correlation made by Raffi, between Nazis and Turks is no accident. As mentioned in the beginning of the book, the radical Armenians, for the last twenty years, have been trying to equate their suffering to those suffered by the Jews.[10] This statement, which is only 4-5 seconds long, has very serious meanings, which have to be corrected. One point is the ‘Turkish citizenship’. In a multinational empire, these statements try to stir up a conflict between the Armenians and Turks by transforming the issue into a mythical conflict between ‘good’ and ‘evil. The intention to show the Turkish and Armenian as the contrast concepts can be found in the other parts of the movie: Egoyan prefers to use modern Turkish Republic’s national flag instead of the Ottoman Empire for instance although there was no country in 1915 called as Turkish Republic. It is clear that the director sees modern Turkey as responsible for the events or he simply does not know the basic facts regarding the Ottoman and Armenian history.

Ali and Raffi’s dialog in the script, while being full of historical falsifications, due to Raffi’s accusations being supported by so-called testimonies of witnesses, telegraphs and messages, together with a weak defense from Ali, might create a sense of truth in the audience which support Armenian accusations. Ali’s answer to all these accusations is just, “I’m not saying something didn’t happen.” In short he says, “you’re right. Everything you said, happened.” All’s replies to Raffi these are statements that would shock anyone with some common sense. Ali not only accepts genocide allegation as a truth he even says that this is not important. In another word the weak Turkish character is used in order to strengthen the Armenian arguments:

“Raffi: ‘Something?’

Ali holds up the bottle of champagne.

Ali: ‘Look, I was born here, and so were you. Right?’

Raffi nods.

Ali (Cont’d): ‘It’s a new country. So let’s drop the fucking history, and get on with it. No-one’s gonna wreck your home. No-one’s gonna destroy your family. So let’s go inside, uncork this, and celebrate.'"[11]

Ali, while insensitively disregarding an issue very vital to Raffi and inviting him for champagne, is at the same time smiling. Egoyan’s message in this scene is very clear: Raffi is stunned by this blatant ‘Turkish denial’. In the continuation of the scene, Raffi maintains his association of Armenians and Jews and says that Adolph Hitler took courage from the “Armenian massacres” to perpetrate his Holocaust. According to Raffi, Hitler said, ‘Who remembers the Armenians?’ All’s answer to these “unimportant” accusations is again shocking. “And no one remembers it.” The scene concludes with:

“Ali stares at Raffi, a slight, ambiguous smile on his lips. He turns to leave."[12]

It can be argued that this scene is the most important scene of the movie and portrays Turks as ‘insensitive, indifferent, who would insult his own people for money and fame, who would play in parts that he or she does not believe in, with no history knowledge, who would ignore the killing of hundreds of thousands of people, unprincipled and pragmatic who would forget everything with a bottle of champagne.’ The defense this character gives for the Turkish people seems to be there just to support Armenian accusations. Armenian allegations are portrayed as proven, factual and scientific deductions or truths. It is also interesting to note that the movie keeps ‘reminding’ us the similarities between Nazis - Turks and Jews - Armenians. (!).

As mentioned earlier, the movie is about an Armenian director, Edward, who wants to make a movie about the pain and suffering of Armenian people. Edward and his assistant, after listening to a speech by an Armenian academic, Ani,’[13] about an Armenian painter Gorky, decide to make some changes in the movie. The plan of the director and his assistant is to show the childhood of painter as the childhood of one of the two messenger-boys who used as communication channel between the American missionary Ussher and Armenian rebellions. So, the director wants to show the messenger boys as Gorky and his childhood friend. In other words, the child Gorky in the movie within the movie is not the real painter Gorky, there is no proof to that verifies this twist and the movie openly shows this falsification.

Ani, who is an art history expert, in her speech portrays Gorky as a great artist who was tortured by Turks. The objective here is to show the contrast between art and brutality and to clarify the distinction between the ‘good’ and the ‘evil’. According to the script Gorky’s mother died from hunger in Gorky’s arms, during the forceful relocation of Armenians.[14] Their house was destroyed, their lands were taken away and his people were massacred. Gorky’s ‘child and mother’ painting, which is in the museum where Philip is a security officer, is constantly shown in the movie. According to the script, the painting expresses only pain, and this is the pain of Armenians. In this painting, mother’s hands are not completed. This, according to the characters in the movie, means the still open wounds caused by Continual denial made by Turks.[15] Ani, who is portrayed as an expert in ‘Gorky’, in a scene says that, this unfinished painting by Gorky full of pain and suffering, portrays the unbroken code of the secret history of Armenians and answer the questions why and how Armenians are where they are.[16]

Another stunning scene is where Celia stabs and damages Gorky’s painting. Celia is the stepdaughter of Ani and at the same time is having an incest relationship with her stepbrother Raffi.[17] Celia, even though living nearly a century after the forceful relocation, thinks that the cause of all her problems are the pain Gorky suffered and the painting which expresses these pains. Here, we clearly see what Egoyan is trying to convey: according to Egoyan, Turks just the way they caused so much suffering for their ancestors are continuing this torment for the grandchildren by denying what happened. Celia character also shows us how much Armenians hate Turks, and how they equate their daily problems with the Armenian problem. This way Egoyan seems to question hate and especially in scene 66, makes Celia state that Ani’s problems are not political but only daily tribulations. According to this, Ani is culpable in her husband’s death due to her unfaithfulness. Just as Gorky’s pain was due to his wife’s affair with his best friend.[18] However, here, Egoyan does not show enough courage and again throws the blame to Turks. In this context, the movie tries to underline the message that the reason why Armenians hate Turks is because Turks hate Armenians. Celia’s statements at the psychiatric institution seem to confirm this conclusion.

When we examine the script, another point we see is how brutal, insensitive and heartless Turks are, and how Caring and wise Armenians are. All Armenian characters in the movie are in considerable pain and the only cause of that pain is the Turks. So much so that, Raffi, returning from Turkey, agrees to take a package to Canada, unaware that it is full of drugs. If it were not for the compassionate customs officer David, a Turk again would have turned the life of an Armenian into hell.[19] In summary, for Egoyan “Armenians have suffered immensely and are continuing to suffer at the hand of Turks.

Even the most peaceful Armenian suffers under the past injustices. Middle aged and elderly Armenians still remember how their parents were tortured and butchered. The younger generation is bewildered under the weight of history and the influence of assimilation. Some have father who were ASALA terrorists, some still do not understand why Turks hate them so much. Additionally, drug use, family problems, psychological problems due to communication problems should also be considered”.[20]

In addition to the unfortunate situation that the Armenians find themselves in, the movie also shows now brave and wise Armenians are, compared to the Turks. In the Van uprising and other conflict scenes, the Armenians are shown fighting with antique rifles, while Turks have the most modern European weapons. Additionally, Turks’ numerical superiority is also pointed out. Armenian youths running through the fires, bravery of Armenian children are also shown to emphasize the courage of the Armenian people. Moreover, in one of Ani’s statements, “‘heroic Van’s defense’ is said to be one of the most glorious episodes of Armenian history”.

Another group who is portrayed as brave is Western missionaries and other representatives of Western nations. In many scenes, American missionary Ussher stakes his own life in order to protect Armenians, He ignores all of the threats made by the ‘brutal governor of Van’ Cevdet Bey and by not handing over the Armenians living within the region where his missionary is located to the Turks, saves many Armenian lives. Again, it is strange that a German woman is shown to be a witness to ‘Turkish brutality’.[21] These characters are installed in the movie as representatives of civilization. However, it is well known that these same countries were the main reasons behind the unfortunate events that caused many Turkish and Armenian lives, and were accused by Armenians of leaving them to their fate. The reason why Westerners are shown as brave as well as Armenians might be due to box office worries. The appearance of a German flag right in the middle of the movie seems to be for reemphasizing the Hitler-Turks connotation. It seems like they are trying to say that even Germans were witnesses to ‘Turkish barbarity’.

Scenes That Portray Turks as ‘Barbarians’

We mentioned earlier that all through the movie, Turks are portrayed not as human being but more like creature that are incapable of perpetrating nothing but cruelty. While this attitude is present all through the movie, some scenes openly reveal this purpose. That’s why in this section we will list all the scenes that include such statements. Our purpose here is not to criticize the movie. This list will make us understand the thought process and intentions of the director:

- “Missionary Ussher speaks: ‘We’re besieged by Turks, we’re run out supplies, and most of us will die. The crowd needs a miracle. This child is bleeding to death. 1 can save his life, it will give us the spirit to continue. Martin points to a woman, still in character, sobbing as she holds her child’s hand. ‘This is his mother. She’s seen the rest of her family massacred, Her pregnant daughter was raped in front of her eyes, just before her stomach was slashed open to stab her unborn child. Her husband had his testicles cut off and stuffed into his mouth.’[22]

- “Martin as Ussher (voice over): ‘In a field of cinders where Armenian life was still dying, a German woman, trying not to cry, told me the horror she witnessed...A few days before, a German woman sits in front of Ussher. She recounts her story as Ussher continues his voice over... Martin as Ussher (V.O): ‘I must tell you what I saw, so people will understand the crimes men do to men. it was Sunday morning, the first useless Sunday dawning on the corpses. I went to the balcony of my window, and saw a dark crowd in the courtyard lashing a group of young women...

- “From her window, the German woman witnesses the following scene... Martin as Ussher (Continuing his voice over entry) ‘An animal of a man shouted, “You must dance, dance when the drum beats!” With fury the whips cracked on the flesh of the women. Hand in hand the brides began their circle dance... “Dance!” they raved, “Dance till you die, dance with bare breasts, without shame..,” One of the women stripped naked... The women collapsed. “Get up!” the crowd screamed, brandishing their swords. Then someone brought a jug of kerosene. The brides were anointed. “Dance!”, they thundered, “Here’s a fragrance sweeter than any perfume.” One of the men in the distance approaches the gas-soaked women with a flaming torch. It is thrown at the terrified women."[23]

- “... With a torch they set the naked brides on fire. And the charred bodies rolled and tumbled to their deaths.” Martin takes a pause, then continues. “The German woman looked at me and said, How shall I dig these eyes of mine? Tell me, how?”[24]

- “A horrifying image. A crowd of people are being lead into the banks of a river, where a group of Turkish guards is shooting at them. The people plead for mercy, as they fall into the bloody waters. The camera tracks along this mass of dead bodies until it arrives at a cart where a Turkish soldier is raping a young woman. This camera moves close to the anguished woman’s arm, following it down to her hand. The young mother is holding the hand of her terrified eight year old girl, who is hiding underneath of the cart. The girl is fighting back her tears, trying to comfort her mother by kissing her finger while she is savaged above her.” Edward (V.O): “My mother never talked about what happened during the march. Only one story...”.[25]

- “Ali is playing Jevdet Bey, instructing a soldier on the finer points of his favorite means of torture. He selects a small horseshoe from a tray of horseshoes presented to him.’[26] Behind him, Sevan is held by a large soldier.[27] Sevan is bare foot. Jevdet Bey: ‘I want you to remember that this has to be nailed into the ball of the hell. Not the sole.’ Jevdet Bey places the horseshoe onto Sevan’s bare foot. Jevdet Bey (Cont’d): ‘There’s no bone in the sole. It’s fall off. Alright?’ The soldier nods and disappears from the office with the captive Sevan. From a adjoining room,

Sevan’s screams are heard as this horrific torture administered on the young boy off screen. Jevdet Bey settles into his chair to read the letter from Ussher that has been found. The terrified Young Gorky is seated in front of him. Ali as Jevdet Bey: ‘An appeal for Christian help. Does your missionary think we are such monsters? If we had such a hatred for you Christians, would we allowed you to keep your churches? We have invested the Greeks and Armenians with power and freedom. You should be thankful.’

- ‘Young Gorky and Sevan are running in the besieged city of Van. They are running through the people massacred in the street. Turkish soldiers are pillaging the shops...’[28] ...Sevan ‘s screams of pain continue in the background. Suddenly, they come to a stop.”[29]

- Hundreds of bodies are strewn along the side of the road. Dogs fight with each other over the carcass of a child. On a makeshift gallows, the bodies of men dangling; a mother wails under the suspended body of her murdered son. Ussher (played by Martin) is walking through this street in Van, witnessing the carnage, Beside him, Young Groky carries an American flag.”[30]

- “Philip: “How much he suffered. Losing his family. His mother dying of starvation in his arms..."[31]

In addition to these, in some parts of the movie there are the forced walks of thousands of people through the desert, bodies torn up by animals and other similar scenes portray Armenians as the victims of a terrible massacre. Egoyan in these scenes focuses on the pains of the Armenians. He describes the 1915 events as a pure genocide with no proof or document. He also does not need to look at the Turkish people’s pain though about a million Turkish people lost their life after the armed Armenian attacks.

These scenes portray Turks more like inhuman creatures than human beings and this is similar to the way Turks were perceived in the middle ages. It is a race, which can easily burn people and who does not have a single good member. It is obvious that the root of these perceptions comes from history. It is not the figment of Egoyan’s imagination. Western sources describing Mehmet II’s conquest of Istanbul, Ottoman governance in the Balkans and Egoyan’s portrayal of Turks are so similar that it seems to come from one source. All these show how little they know the Turks. Perceptions full of images and preconceptions result in a fear from the unknown. In this context, Turks are perceived as the amalgamation of the two principle enemies of Europe. These are unbelievers coming from the step and Muslims. From this perspective, Turks have no culture but are very strong and have the willingness to carry out barbarity. Gladstone’s ‘judgment’ about the Turkish race is an obvious example:

“What was the Turkish race and what is it now? This is not an issue of Islam, but the amalgamation of Islam with the characteristics of o race. Turks, ever since they stepped foot on European soil, have been an example of inhumanity. Wherever they went they left a bloody trail behind, and wherever their rule reached civilization disappeared.”[32]

These and similar arguments were also used by European authors during the Greek and Bulgarian uprisings. Most of these books were written without visiting the regions.[33] In other words, Europe has fixed opinions about the relations between Turks and Christian minorities and characters used by Egoyan and his scenes in the movie are just the usual biased European attitude towards the Turks. However, horrifying scenes in Ararat’s script are still very exaggerated. It is quite probable that a child or a youth, even a typical middle-aged person could suffer psychological damage by watching the movie.

‘Anatolia: Lost Armenian Lands’

Another point constantly expressed in the movie of Ararat is that Anatolia is the Armenian homeland. According to the movie Anatolia was Armenian until it was ‘lost’ in 1915. In this way, it is similar to Jewish myth that even though they had not lived there for the centuries they would one-day return to Palestine (Promised Land). In other words the film implies that Anatolia is belonging to the Armenians, and it is “Armenians’ promised lands”. For example, Raffi in the movie goes to Eastern Anatolia in order to find himself and to face his past. His statements and observations include reflections about these lost Armenian lands. In one of the scenes in front of the ruins of a church, Raffi says:

“When I see these places, I realize how much we’ve lost. Not just the land and the lives, but the loss of any way to remember it. I here is nothing here to prove that anything ever happened.”[34]

As seen here, Egoyan does not make any effort question the truth of the ‘Armenian genocide’ in the film, Ararat. Raffi is certain, as he talks about the extent of the “massacres” and “genocide”. Raffi also implies the lost lands and destroyed Armenian identity. After Raffi utters these words, the following scene shows hundreds of tired people walking slowly in the desert. This upsetting scene includes Gorky and his mother: “An exhausted woman and her son she is protecting”. It cannot be distinguished if this scene is a part of the main movie or the film Edward is recoding. As a result both films merge. In an interview Egoyan said that this was his objective and he sometimes could not differentiate between the movies.[35] This style ensures that the message is conveyed without any contrary argument and prevents any opposition of Egoyan to be voiced.

Prejudices Hidden by Art

If we compare Ararat with the other movies, we can say that Egoyan has used a more intelligent style than the Midnight Express. He does not try to prove his opinions in a coarse language. He uses all of the tools available to cinema and modern art to draw the viewer. Every trick of the trade is used to confuse the viewer. No one can tell which is real and which is fiction. However, the movie also uses all the prototypes and preconceptions that have remained for centuries. In summary, if the messages conveyed by the movie are summarized, Ararat can be seen a product of hate and historical, political prejudices aiming a certain political aim.


After examining the script in detail, the purpose of the movie comes out clearly with the name and the symbols used in the movie.[36] We cannot be sure if Ararat is going to be a success or not, but we can be sure that its name alone will stay in the minds of many people. Every body including those who have no knowledge about the problems between Armenians and Turks know Mount Ararat, famous for being Noah’s Ark’s resting place.

Another theme, which is repeated all through the movie, is the citing of religious myths. First is Noah’s Ark. When first considered, there is no direct connection between the script of the movie and the great flood. Only in scene 6, in which David talks Philip and Ali about his present to his grandson Tony, a toy Noah’s ship, however, the rest of the movie is full of references to the myth and the message is clear:

“We will rise again, just like Noah’s children.”[37]

Another symbol frequently used is Christianity. Knowing that most of the viewers are going to be Christians, Egoyan and his associates try to reveal the fact that Armenian are, like Americans and Europeans, members of the Christian faith. On the other hand, the fact that Turk’s believe in a different religion is shown with showing distinctly different symbols. This is clearly seen in the movie when a German and an American start to document the ‘Armenian massacres’ that happened during the Van uprising. There is a virtual separation of civilization between Turks and the rest of the world. What’s more, the direct association shown between Armenian society and Christianity is an approach that supports their objective.

Because the clichés and symbols used to represent the Turks were mentioned earlier, we will not examine them here in detail.


Director: Atom Egoyan

For Atom Egoyan, Ararat is his personal project, one of his most important ambitions and a big responsibility.[38] The main objective of Egoyan and the producers was for the movie to receive awards at the festivals it attends and to be nominated for an Oscar.[39] In other words, Egoyan worked much harder in this project than he did in his earlier work. This will be an important factor for the publicity and the success of this move. Egoyan says, about the movie:

“Ararat is the project that has consumed me for the last two years and on which I spent most of my time, Most of my time in the last two years was taken up by writing the script, casting the actors and to find enough information for recording a drama. My brain is full of images that I am going to use in the film..."[40]

Egoyan allowing journalists on the set and to publicize the movie before it is in the market, which he had never done before, shows how much importance he gives to Ararat.[41]

However, the movie’s importance, for Egoyan and his associates, is not related to their expectations for high box office returns or artistic satisfaction. More importantly, Ararat is a movie with a mission. The reason behind Egoyan’s statement that this movie was not a story but a responsibility is this.[42] In this context, Egoyan has expectations from this film. His first objective is to make the world accept that the ‘Armenian genocide’ in fact took place. According to Egoyan, the viewers should observe the scenes in the movie not as fiction but as facts. Egoyan summarizes the situation as:

‘Ararat will turn some heads and will force open some eyes... I hope Ararat will make the viewer accept the Armenian Genocide not as fiction but as a fact...‘[43]

Egoyan’s second objective is to make Turkey accept the Armenian accusations and to change her stance:

‘I was invited to Istanbul many times. They know about this movie. I am very optimistic about Turkey accepting the fact that Armenian Holocaust really took place in the near future.’[44]

According to Egoyan, Ararat will eventually be shown in Turkey.[45] In this context, we can say that the screening of the movie in Turkey can be considered as one of the objectives of Egoyan.

The Cast

When we look at the cast, we see that the movie was made for a broad audience and to attract the media. Bruce Greenwood, Eric Bogosian, Christopher Plummer, Elias Koteas, David Alpay, Kaffi Migdesyan and French singer-actor Charles Aznavour are among the cast.[46] The inclusion of familiar faces in the cast might be a useful addition for the promotion and success of the movie. Canadian actor Bruce Greenwood was noticed when he played President Kennedy in Thirteen Days. Greenwood also played in Exotica and The Sweet Hereafter. Plummer, as known, is an established actor with a film career spanning decades. His awards include an Emmy and many other accomplishments. He has a wide audience in Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States. Another established name is Aznavour, who is the legendary French singer-actor. Aznavour, who has hundreds of albums, is the son of an Armenian family from Paris.

According to one of the actors, Raffi Migdesyan, Ararat is going to be an ‘Armenian Shindler’s List’.

Charles Aznavour

Aznavour, who plays the director in Ararat, is one of the key characters in the film. Therefore his career will be evaluated in detail. Aznavour is an accomplished French artist. Charles Aznavour, who is considered as one of the giants of the music world, is the son of a Turkish Armenian couple. He says that his mother comes from Adapazar?, a Turkish province. His artistic interests ‘started when he was nine years old, with dancing. In the 1950s he became well known as the ‘melancholic singer of romantic songs’. It is reported that he has hundreds of albums. The artist, who could sing in five different languages (French, Italian, English, Spanish and Armenian), also became famous for his acting abilities. His first movie was Le Tete Contre. Les Murs (1959). In his later film, his admirers could usually see him playing his piano. Aznavour moved to Switzerland in 1976. When we examine Charles Aznavour’s interest in the Armenian problem and Ararat, we see that he describes himself as ‘firstly a French artist’. However, Aznavour was always aware of his Armenian identity and never refrained from putting it to the forefront. The artist, who supports the Armenian accusations whole-heartedly, would like Turkey’s attitude to change. An interview with Aznavour in 2000 reveals his opinions about the issue:

‘Q: Your mother is from Turkey. Did her relatives suffer during the 1915 ‘genocide’?

Charles Aznavour: They did not suffer, they disappeared and they died. We could never again hear from them. What happened was genocide and they were among the victims.


Q: Recently, The French Senate passed a resolution accepting the Armenian genocide and this angered Turkey. How do regard this?

Charles Aznavour: I think this is just about time. I believe that all countries eventually have to acknowledge what happened. Firstly Turkey. Germany accepted what it had done. France is still acknowledging her part wrongs. Many other countries have also done the same. Today’s Turks are not responsible for the past events. However to refuse to accept what happened in the past is odd...

Q: We both know that your album was banned in turkey. Why do you think that happened?

Charles Aznavour: It was long ago. It was when I wrote the song ‘Is Sont Tompés’ (They will lose’. I mentioned genocide in the song. However, I did not say who the victims were or who perpetrated the crime. Consequently, the ban was a mistake.

Q: What happened after the ban. You are very popular in turkey.

Charles Aznavour: I never said anything bad about the Turks and never will... There was nothing against Turks in the song. When something bad happens to a Turkish family in Germany, I get very upset. I hate these kinds of things. I am happy that my relationship with Turks in France is good. Turks here treat me well. They have been a great immigrant community in the country until now.

Q: Can you tell us what happened after your song ‘Is Sont Tompés’ was banned in Turkey?

Charles Aznavour: My photos on some documents were crossed. My photos for years were published this way. I was banned in Turkey. However, every time I met a Turk in UK or France, I fell in love with their food. It was just like Armenian food. I also frequently go to Turkish restaurants and I always was shown great courtesy. As you know Turks and Armenians share many characteristics. Even though I am an Armenian from Turkey, I do not deny it... I do not know when the ban was lifted. One day someone told me that he saw my cassettes in Turkey and then I knew the ban was lifted.

Q: If you were invited to turkey for a concert, would you go?

Charles Aznavour: No. I would accept it under one condition. Only if the invitation were an official one, I would go. They often ask me anyway, for film festivals and etc. However, my answer is always the same. If I am officially invited, for example by the Culture Ministry, I will go. That way, they will be excepting my stance and will be face to face with the situation.’[47]

Aznavour, as seen from the interview above, reveals his extreme Armenian identity, repeats the accusations of the radical Armenian groups and reveal that his attitude is politically much more extreme than his words. In other words, he is an activist besides being an artist. For example, he distributes the assistance and donations he collects in Armenia. He pays visits Armenia regularly and has meetings with many top officials including the President and the Prime Minister. lie is also considered an important political figure among the Armenians. He participates in many Armenian propaganda activities. He usually does not appear on the screen but his support and statements provide significant assistance to the Armenian propaganda network. Another incident that shows his extreme nature is his refusal to give concerts for the French Senate, because they had not recognized the Armenian accusations.

Aznavour, who previously was reported to take part in the movie Komitas, said that Ararat was not a movie of accusations:

‘This movie does not point any fingers. It is just about a person who is trying to make a movie on the borders of Turkey. That’s the whole of the story.’[48]

Aznavour argues that the film, Ararat is not a propaganda film and it does not contain any accusation for Turkey. However after the premier of the film he clearly claimed some parts of the Republic of Turkey are Armenian territories:

‘If they like to give us a gift, they can donate us the Armenian side of the Mount Ararat, which the Turks do not use it’. [49]


Ararat, even before it’s recording started, had generated many disputes. The objective and the importance of the movie cannot be understood without examining the environment from which it was born, because that environment was very sensitive. Armenian lobbies saw 2000 and 2001 as the time to complete their objectives related to the so-called “Armenian genocide”. After their successes in various states of the United States and in France, in passing a resolution recognizing the Armenian “genocide”, the Armenian lobbies concentrated on the U.S. and other Western countries. Another change of strategy at that time was the intensification of equating the Jewish Holocaust with the allegations of ‘Armenian genocide’. The term ‘Armenian genocide’ was replaced with the ‘Armenian holocaust’ by the radical Armenian groups in time. The Armenian campaigns on the Jewish Holocaust Remembrance Day, in particular was an organized campaign to present the 1915 events as similar to the Jewish Holocaust.[50] The 1700th anniversary of Armenians accepting Christianity in 2001 was another coincidence that could be used for the propaganda purposes. The Pope’s first visit to the Armenian Church was seen as a significant occasion to spread the Armenian allegations in the international arena. However, 11 September terrorist assaults ruined all the plans. The campaign had to be postponed to 2002.[51]

Even though we have no proof, Ararat coming at a time when the Armenian propaganda mechanism was so active raises some suspicions. Canadian media reported that Atom Egoyan started to write the script of Ararat around the time that the Armenian lobbies were internationally very active.[52] Another reason that strengthens the suspicions about Ararat is that the idea that making a movie that dealt with 1915 was first voiced at a meeting of an Armenian association, in order to promote the Armenian allegations. Atom Egoyan’s visit to Armenia in 6 December 2001, his meeting with Armenia’s Culture Minister Roland Sharoyan and Sharoyan’s statement that Armenian government would continue to support the project, proves that Ararat is not solely a Canadian venture.[53] During the same visit, Atom Egoyan and the Armenian Government also signed an agreement to cooperate in the future.[54] Another fact that proves that Ararat is a part of a wider Armenian campaign is that the director defends Armenian accusations and attends meetings of the Armenian associations that promote such opinions. So much so that Egoyan carried his radical beliefs to the political arena. For example in February 1999, Egoyan started a public duel with a Liberal Party member of the Canadian Parliament, who said that they had doubts that the events of 1915 could be considered genocide.[55]


First news about the recording of the movie started to trickle out during the spring of 2001. Shootings done in Toronto and Alberta started in May 2001. Egoyan said at the time that he applied for permission to do some scenes in Turkey, but was not hopeful that his application would be approved. Armenian and Canadian media announced the start of recording as “famous director, Atom Egoyan, is making a movie that tells the story of the period when Turks massacred Armenians” or “the film that portrays the Armenian Holocaust”. Pre-shooting preparations show that the movie is going to be impressive and have a large budget. Firstly, a large historical Van was constructed near the Ontario Lake (Canada). Mr. X Inc. construction of the city was a very laborious and expensive.[56] The reproduced city of Van includes Mosques, Churches, Governmental Residence and other governmental buildings. This reproduction seems so real that, journalists visiting the recording stated that they felt that they were in Turkey of 1915 right in the middle of today’s Canada. Dennis Berardi, the head of the Company, said the set would be made even more realistic when it is presented with the help of 3D animation programs. In other word, Egoyan and his team created an imagined history with no archival documents and the press presented the scenes as if they are the real events.

Mount Ararat being one of the central themes of the movie was reproduced using wood. In order to record the scenes with many dead bodies, 150 extras were used. It is reported that the number of dead people increased to thousands with the help of computer animation.[57] The number of Turkish soldiers increased in the film from hundreds to thousands by the same technique used in the movie Gladiator. ‘Thousand killed by the Turkish soldiers in the fields’ shown the frequently. In one of the scenes, a hungry child walks among these corpses. According to the script, this child is the childhood of one of the characters in the movie. Scenes include corpses scattered around the streets, children hanging from poles and naked and raped women’s corpses. These scenes attracted the Western media before showing. This attraction is due to these striking scenes, associations created between the so-called Armenian genocide and Jewish Holocaust and Mount Ararat. Armenians for long years have promoted the mountain as the resting place of Noah’s ark and now they are seeing the results of their efforts in this movie. Events taking place around this illustrious mountain has attracted many people, and the propagandist groups have abused this interest.

The details of the movie completed by the autumn of 2001. Atom Egoyan visited Armenia in December 2001 in order to select the soundtrack of the movie. While the visit was promoted as being only for selecting the soundtrack, meetings with many high rank officials and press statements point towards a different objective. The most important detail of the soundtrack is that, an Armenian Turk also was involved in the process. Alto Tunç accepting that he helped in the process claimed in an interview with Hürriyet daily that the movie was not anti-Turkish, He said that in the sections of the script given to him, there was nothing that could offend Turks or Turkey and that the opinions about the movie were mostly exaggerated. While Arto Tunç composing a song for Ararat was found to be odd by many, the angriest reaction came from the newspaper Star. Star said that Tunç was deceiving the Turkish media with his statements and music lovers in Turkey were criticizing his actions. Star reported that Tunç’s last few concerts in Istanbul were nearly empty.[58] The first point to consider is why Egoyan picked a Turkish citizen for the music of his movie. His reason might have been to attract Turkey’s Armenian community towards his side, or to divide the Turkish and Armenians in Turkey about the Ararat movie. As will be seen Turkish and Armenian reaction regarding the film was similar after the Cannes premier. Both declared that the film is a propaganda film and destructive for the relations. It clearly shows that the Ararat team failed to get the support of Turkish Armenians.


When the financing of the movie is examined, the suspicions about the movie being a propaganda tool becomes stronger. The producers of the movie are Atom Egoyan, Alliance Atlantis Communications company and Robert Lantos, who has been a long-time supporter of Egoyan.[59] However it is known that these producers can hardly afford the reported movie budget of 50 million dollars.[60] If the earlier movies of Egoyan is examined, we see that his most expansive movies, Exotica and Sweet Hereafter, had a budget of around 5 million dollars. If we consider that almost none of Egoyan’s movies have been profitable and that he has usually made his movies with government grants, it is obvious that not many corporations could finance his movies for profit. Egoyan usually had very limited resources when making a movie. For instance, he could construct his first full set in 1999, for Felicia’s Journey.[61] We can see that political and other considerations had entered the agenda in the financing of Ararat. In other words, Egoyan making a movie that has a budget, which is ten times his previous most expensive film, cannot be explained only with his own resources. According to the reports leaked to the media, the French Government provided a large part of the budget.[62] Additionally, it is believed that some financing was received from the Canadian movie assistance funds. The producers also expected revenues from the awards the movie could win in the Canadian movie festivals. In addition to the director and the actors in the movie, Canadians and Canadian State Agencies have provided significant moral and financial support. A large amount of capital was received by selling the distribution rights of the movie. Even before the recording of the movie was finished, American company Miramax bought the distribution rights of the movie.[63] According to Turkish journalist Erdal Bilallar, Miramax is a sub-company of Walt Disney and usually distributes movies that Walt Disney is afraid of distributing due to various reasons.[64] Some distribution companies had also purchased the right to distribute the movie in Italy, Russia, Greece, France, Singapore and Israel before the movie was completed. This also provided significant amount of funds for the movie.[65]

Lastly, donations made by the Armenians, who see this movie as a part of the Armenian national defense, is maybe the most important source of funding. In addition to the direct funding, many Canadian Armenian actors choose to take part in the movie for free and some Armenian associations donating hardware used in the movie, made available unused fund that could be transferred to other sections of the movie making process. In addition to voluntary participation, workings of a professional Armenian network can also be found in the movie. According to Ambassador Ömer Engin Lütem, the annual budget of some radical Armenians, in Diaspora who try to prove their allegations is around 50 million dollars. Lütem says that this capital is used for creating pieces in cinema, theatre, meetings, literature, advertising and etc. and that this amount of money is the principle source of many for the creation of the most important propaganda tools.[66] These figures do not include donations made in-kind and volunteers’ support. In this way, we can easily surmise that Ararat, just like Mayrik in early 1990s, has also received its slice of the propaganda cake. The Armenian government has also announced its support for the film. While, the scale of the budget is indeterminate, it is interesting to note that the movie came out as a State sponsored film.


As mentioned earlier, first reactions about the movie arose from the magazine media. The movie, which was reported to portray “the massacre of 1.5 million people by Turks, just because they were Christians”, attracted great attention. In all of the articles about the movie, it was reported that “while what Jews had to endure in Hitler’s Germany was known, so-called Armenian genocide was an unfamiliar”. Another common feature of these articles is their gradual replacement of the phrase “Armenian genocide” with “Armenian holocaust”.[67] It can be argued that these newspaper articles try to establish the basis to persuade the Western public opinion for the so-called Armenian genocide as the second holocaust in history. In art and film magazines, the movie’s story has been described as “being about the 1915 - 1917 Armenian holocausts, in which Turks killed 1.5 million Armenians”. The movie was also promoted as being “taken from a true story”.[68] In another article, the so-called Armenian genocide is compared to a more recent event: “You lost four thousand people on September 11th, we lost three quarters of our nation to the genocide”.[69 It is obvious that the radical Armenian groups aim to abuse the American tragedy to take advantage for their political aims.

Another frequently made mistake in most articles about Ararat is about Mount Ararat itself. In many American and Canadian articles, Mount Ararat is said to be located either in today’s Armenia or in ‘historical Armenia’. In many articles Eastern Anatolia is described as ‘historical Armenia’ or ‘Armenia’ alone. An opinion from a journalist about the movie says that the city of Van was completely destroyed after the events of 1915. There are such statements in the introduction of the movie that a person is left with an image that the reason why the city of Van was reproduced in Canada for the film Ararat was because the city was completely wiped out by the Turks. We can only guess that this is a part of a conscious propaganda campaign[70] because Van city is now one of the major cities in Eastern Turkey, and the Mount Ararat is in the Turkish territories.

Commentaries made by Canadian journalist Kirkland show how worrying the perception of the Western media is towards this movie:

“...This bucolic scene belies the true nature of what will come in 1915 — a wholesale massacre of at least 600,000 people and the expulsion of an equal number as Turkey reacts, in a way of racism, to the outbreak of World War I. Massacres of Armenians had been happening since 1895, but this was the biggest.

It is the first mass genocide of the 20th century, a horror which is rarely acknowledged, Egoyan said. That’s why he feels his movie is such a responsibility. Armenians have been waiting for a major film on the subject for decades.”[71]

If we come to the artistic and technical reactions, the 90-page script, which came out before the movie, has generated positive comments.[72] Some questions were asked about Egoyan’s command of historical facts, but usually this was overlooked. Another point to consider is that even in web sites dealing with artistic reviews, there are links to web sites that advance the Armenian cause of so-called genocide. Additionally, providing one-sided historical guidance has increased, as the date for the public premiere of the movie gets nearer. For example in the Upcoming movies internet site in between information and review of the movie, there is sentence stating that “Remembrance of the Genocide day is 24th of April, which is the day the killings started”. This is not the only site that promotes this issue.

In summary, Egoyan’s movie appeared widely in the Western media, even before it was completed and reviews usually repeat the Armenian version of events. The film, even before completion, is successfully performing its duty as a propaganda tool.

That’s why many Western critics are comparing the movie with Schindler’s List. Additionally, many people share the view that Ararat is going to be Egoyan’s most popular movie until now.

On the other hand, not only the movie but also the reaction the movie is getting from the media in Turkey, is watched with interest in the Western media. For example, the French Le Monde on February 7, 2002, stated that Turks were comparing the movie with the ‘Midnight Express’. The same article also included the Armenian accusations and reported that the Turkish Foreign Ministry was preparing a response to the film.

[1] It is an old tradition to portray Turks as sexual deviant or homosexuals in movies. This might be caused due to perceptions from the Ottoman times. european explorers, when visiting the Ottoman lands saw the man domina¬ted coffee houses, men and women’s bath houses, a social life that totally segregates men and women, harems and sports like wrestling and assumed that these were homosexual practices. This perception continued in the 20th century. The homosexual Turkish character in the movie of Ararat does not show a premeditated act but just Egoyan’s automatic response. Another reason can be Egoyan’s choice to use unusual characters in his movies. However, the choice of a homosexual Turkish character is maybe the only ‘positive’ aspect vis-a-vis Turks in this movie. While this aspect of All’s personality is not presented in a bad light in the script, contrary to the opinions of the Turkish media, Ali’s sexual preferences should not create a negative attitude on the viewer. For the opinion of the Turkish media on this subject: Deniz Güçer Erdem, ‘Ararat’ta Canland?r?lan Ali isimli Türk, E?cinsel’ (The Turk Called Ali in Ararat is a Gay), Star, 15 February 2002.
[2] Scene 41, Inside the studio.
[3] Although the name of the state during the 1915 events was “the Ottoman State”, the director deliberately use the word of ‘Turkey’. Interestingly Atom Egoyan also used the modern Turkish Republic’s flag in the film instead of the flag of the Ottoman Empire. This choice cannot be considered as accidental.
[4] Scene 42, Int. Studio  - Day.
[5] Scene 42, Inside the studio.
[6] “Scene 43 lnt / Ext. Raffi’s Car. Street. Near Ali’s Apartment - Day Raffi is driving Ali back from the studio.
[7] Scene 53.
[8] Here ‘resettlement’ (tehcir) is meant instead of deportation. However, the director uses ‘deportation’ word instead of ‘resettlement’. As a matter of fact that the Ottoman decision taken in 1915 did not aim to deport the Armenian citizens to abroad. The Ottoman Armenians were taken to another Ottoman province, to the territories, which is now called as Syria. In another word, resettlement means not to deport some people out of the country but to for¬cefully relocate them to another region within the country. Furthermore, statements made in the movie are given with the historical references as if it is a history textbook. So those viewers, who do not take the time to do some research, will be lead to believe a certain set of ‘truths’.
[9] Scene 55.
[10] For more detailed analysis: Sedat Laçiner, ‘Armenia’s Jewish Skepticism and its impact on Armenia-Israel Relati¬ons’, Armenian Studies, Vol. I (4), December-January-February 2002, Sedat Laçiner, ‘?srail-Ermenistan ili?kileri ve ?srail — Türkiye i?birli?inin Ermenistan’a Etkileri’ (Israel-Armenia Relations and Israel-Turkey cooperation’s influen¬ce on Armenia), Stratejik Analiz, Vol. 2, No. 23, March 2002; ?brahim Kaya, ‘The Holocaust and Armenian Case: Highlighting the Main Differences’, Armenian Studies, Vol. I, No. 4, December 2001-January-February 2002, pp. 274-295.
[11] Scene 55.
[12] Scene 55.
[13] Ani is Raffi’s mother and the wife of the dead ASALA terrorist. The question whether similarity between the name ‘Ani’ and the township Ani in Anatolia, is just a coincidence or if it has some other reason, still remains to be ans¬wered.
[14] Scene 47, inside, Art Galery, Raffi and Celia’s dialog.
[15] Ani’s opinions about the issue support this conclusion. 55, inside, Art gallery, Bookstore - at noon.
[16] Scene 73, A dialog between Ani and Rouben.
[17] Here, we come across another strange relationship in accordance with Egoyan’s style.
[18] Scene 66.
[19] In addition to homosexuality or being sexual perverts, Turks in anti-Turkish movies are also portrayed as drug users and suppliers. It is strange that even though the use of drugs per person and the commonality of homosexu¬ality in European countries, US and Canada are much higher, these concepts are still used to portray Turks.
[20] Scene 54. Outside, Van, Turkey, Street, 1915, Night.
[21] Scene 73.
[22] Scene 74.
[23] Scene 69.
[24] Scene 70, lnt. Studio - Day.
[25] Scene 71, Ext. Van. Turkey. Country. Riverbank - Day. (It is significant that Egoyan in his film use ‘Turkey’ as the name of the Eastern Anatolian territories when he is speaking about torture scenes though it is a well known fact that the radical Armenians use ‘Western Armenia’ term for the same territories.
[26] In the script, it is suggested by a small horseshoe that it’s to be hammered on to a small child. However, as any person who has some knowledge about horseshoes knows that no horseshoe can fit a child’s foot. Additionally. if we consider that the occupation of ironsmith being common among the Armenians at that time, and that certain professions were left to minorities, we see that the message being given in the movie that ‘Turks used the what they did best (being an iron-smith) on human beings’, is totally without basis. Moreover, a similar scene was done in another Armenian movie, forty Days of Musa Dagh, we realize that another stereo type for Turks is being cre¬ated.
[27] The reason why the director use “a large soldier” is not an accident. Similar to the Second World War propaganda films the director tries to contrast “the large and evil Turkish soldier” and “innocent and small Armenian child”. In other word, the “large soldier” phrase is obviously not meant as a complement. Eqoyan’s purpose is more to set a “bad Turk” image then to investigate the problems between Turks and Armenians. The ‘vicious, ugly and large’ soldiers usually shown in movies about Nazi’s are also used frequently in this movie
[28] Scene 32. outside, Van, Turkey, street, 1915, Noon
[29] Scene 33, inside, Studio, Cevdet Bey’s office, Van, 1915, noon.
[30] Ext. Van. Turkey. 1915. Street - Day. ‘The American flag’ is another image is used deliberately. The film attempts to show the Turks and Americans in different sides. As a result the film’s makers hopes to give a clear message to the American audience.
[31] Scene 61.
[32] Andrew Wheat croft, The Ottomans: Dissolving Images. (London: Fenguin Books, 1995), p.234.
[33] For the roots of the image of Turks see Nedret Kuran Burço?lu. Muiticulturalism: Identity and Otherness, (Istanbul: Bo?aziçi University Press, 1997); Sedat Laçiner, ‘Culture and Civilization in Turkey — European relations: Historical and Ideological Roots’, Liberal Dü?ünce, Vol. 4, No. 13, Winter 99, p.39-57; Sedat Laçiner, foreign Policy and Ide¬ology, unpublished PhD thesis, King Collage, University of London, 2001.
[34] 50 Ext. Turkey - Day.
[35] Rick McGinnis, ‘Exclusive visit behind the scenes of Atom Egoyan’s new Film’, National Weekend Post (Canada), 5 August 2001.
[36] For a detailed analysis see: Nedret Kuran-Burço?lu, ‘The Implied Message Of Ararat And Its Intended Audience’, Review of Armenian Studies, Vol. 1, No. 1,2002, pp. 65-78.
[37] As known, Noah’s Ark is very important for Armenian national identity. In addition, Armenians frequently refer to their nation as ‘Noah’s children’ or ‘Hayk’s children’. This is the main reason why they have chosen Mount Ararat as their national symbol.
[38] Bruce Kirkland, ‘Egoyan Mounts Testament; New Film Ararat a personal Take on Genocide’, The Toronto Sun, 8 June 2001.
[39] ‘Turkey Plans to Sue Canadian Movie Director’, Armenian Reporter, 8 December 2001.
[40] Atom Egoyan. ‘Turbulent’ Filmmaker, Fall 2001.
[41] ‘It had...’ Rick McGinnis, ‘Masters of Illusion: An Exclusive Visit Behind the Scenes of Atom Egoyan’s New Film Ararat’; The National Post of Canada, 4 August 2001.
[42] ‘It had’; Bruce Kirkland, ‘Egoyan Mounts Testament: New Film Ararat A Personal Take on Genocide’, The Toronto Sun, 8 June 2001.
[43] As Egoyan clearly declared here with these word aimed to force people think different. As a well-known fact that the main aim of propaganda activities in politics is to force people to change their ideas on a specific subject.
[44] ‘It had...’.
[45] Sid Adilman, ‘Toronto, Turkey Circa 1915’, Star (Toronto), 8 June 2001.
[46] The previous movies these actors played in are: Bruce Greenwood (Thirteen Days, The Sweet Hereafter), Eric Bo¬gosian (Talk Radio), Brent Carver (The Legend of Sleepy Hollow), Christopher Plummer (Dracula 200 and The Insider), Elias Koteas (The Thin Red Line and Crash), Marie-Josee Croze (Maelstrom), Arsinee Khanjian (Felicia’s Jour¬ney).
[47] Interview with Charles Aznavour, 8 December 2000, Radio 4, NPS Supplement. Note: The text is a translated version.
[48] Interview with Charles Aznavour, 8 December 2000, Radio 4, NPS Supplement.
[49] Interview with Charles Aznavour, Muhammer Elveren, ‘A?r? Da?, ??inize Yaramaz Bize Hediye Edebilirsiniz’ (The Mo¬unt Ararat Is Not Useful For You, You can Give It To Us), Hürriyet, Turkish daily. 22 May 2002.
[50] For details related to the campaign in the United Kingdom: Sedat Laçiner, ‘The Armenian Diaspora in Britain and the Armenian Question’, The Armenian Studies, Vol. I, No, 3, September-October-November 2001, pp. 233-257.
[51] For the affects of September 11 on Armenian Question: Sedat Laçiner, ‘11 Eylül Olaylar? (Yeni Terörizm) ve Erme¬ni Sorunu (The Events of September 11 (New Terrorism) and Armenian Question), Stratejik Analiz, Vol.2, No.19, November 2001, pp. 39-46.
[52] Designing of the city of Van used in the film was started around the end of 2000. ‘Atom Splitting’, The Toronto Star, 22 December 2000; McGinnis, ‘Masters of...’.
[53] Egoyan Visits Armenia, receives Momento’, Asbarez, 7 December 2001.
[54] ‘Armenian-Canadian movie To Be Shot Soon’, Armenian News network/Groong, 10 December 2001.
[55] Bob Thompson, ‘Egoyan to Film Arh?enian Tragedy’, Toronto Sun, ... 2001; Abdullah K?l?ç, ‘?kinci Geceyar?s? Eksp¬resi Yolda’ (A Second Midnight Express is in the Making), Zaman, 28 November 2001.
[56] ‘Mr. X Creates an Armenian Town and a Cast of Thousands’,, 22 October 2001; ‘Mr. X Creates Extras for Ararat’, Animation magazine, 2 October 2001. The same company is also responsible for the technical structure of another movie by Serendipity Point Film company ‘Men With Brooms’. In their words business connec¬tions between Egoyan and Laros are not limited to Ararat.
[57] Cenk Ba?lam??, ‘Nefret Filmine Start’ (The Start of the Movie of Hate), Milliyet, 12 August 2001; Zeynep Gürcanl?, ‘Ulusal, Utanç’ (National Shame), Star, I July 2001; ‘Sözde Ermeni Soyk?r?m? Filmi. Kanda’da Çekilmeye Ba?land?; Filmin Yönetmeni Atom Egoyan’ (So called Armenian Genocide Film, is Being Made in Canada; The Director is Atom Egoyan), Nethaber,, 12 August 2001; Murat Birsel, (Midnight Express’ten Sonra Ararat’ (Ararat, After Midnight Express), Sabah, 19 August 2001,, 19 August 2001.
[58] Oner Ongun, ‘Ararat Yaramad?’, Star, 30 January 2002. For a detailed analysis of the Turkish media’s reaction re¬garding the film, Ararat see Sedat Laçiner, ‘Ararat Filmi ve Türk Bas?n?: Ele?tirel Bir De?erlendirme’ (Ararat Film And Turkish Media: A critical Analysis), Ermeni Ara?t?rmalan, Vol. 2, No. 5, Spring 2002. pp. 48-83.
[59]‘It had to be made by Atom’,, 23 June 2001, Hyetert system.
[60] There are conflicting reports about the budget of the movie. The smallest budget reported is 15 million dollars. Some say that the budget is 63 million dollars, not including donations. ‘Halit Refi? Filmin Çok Büyük Bütçesi Var’ (Halit Refi?, ‘The Movie Has A Huge Budget), Zaman, 28 November 2001.
[61] Richard Porton, ‘The Politics of Denial: An Interview with Atom Egoyan’, cineaste, Vol. 25, No. 1, December 1999, p.39.
[62] ?ule Türker, ‘Bu Film Ba??m?z? Çok Agr?tacak’ (This Film Will cause More Troubles), Sabah, 5 December 2001.
[63] Jonathan Bing, ‘Miramax Picks Up Egoyan’s Ararat’, Daily Variety, Vol. 271, No1 65, 31 May 2001, p’1.
[64] Erdal Bilallar, ‘Walt Disney’in Parma??’ (Walt Disney’s Role). Sabah, 6 December 2001.
[65] ‘Atom Egoyan’s Movie Attracts Great Attention’,; ‘Canadian Director’s Movie ‘Ararat’ Has Been Sold Even Before The Movie Was Completed’,
http://perso.wanadoo... .
[66] For the lecture of Ambassador Ömer Engin Lütem, Tarih Boyunca Türk-Ermeni ili?kileri Sempozyumu. 13-14 Nisan 2001 (Turkish — Armenian Relations In Past, Symposium. 14 April 2001) via Belgenet. December 2001.
[67] ‘For example in Kit’s article only the phrase ‘Armenian Holocaust’ is used. Zorianna Kit. ‘Ararat Brings Four On Bo¬ard In Star roles’, Hollywood Reporter, 6 April 2001.
[68] For examples:; Eugene Hernandez, ‘Miramax and Egoyan, Miramax acquires Egoyan’s Ararat’, Daily News, 1 January 2001, Some ‘fairer’ commentaries use the word massacre: Mary Glucksman, ‘Atomic Weight’. Filmmaker, 29 August 2001.
[69] Cited in, Lokomotif Kamera, 4 December 2001,
[70] For such an opinion: Rick McGinnis, ‘Masters of Illusion: An Exclusive Visit Behind The Scenes of Atom Egoyan’s New Film, Ararat’, The National Post of Canada, 4 December 2001.
[71] Bruce Kirkland, ‘Egoyan Mounts Testament: New Film Ararat A Personal Take on Genocide’, The Toronto Sun, 8 June 2001.
[72] For example, ‘Script Review of Ararat’, The Stax Report, Film force, 8 August 2001.

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ERAREN - Institute for Armenian Research

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