Follow TV Tropes


Film / Ararat

Go To
Ararat is a 2002 film directed, written, and co-produced by Atom Egoyan. The film is based around an Armenian-Canadian director named Edward Saroyan attempting to make a Biopic about the life of Armenian abstract artist Arshille Gorky, a survivor of the Armenian Genocide, including scenes from the 1915 Siege of Van. This stirs controversy because the historical events are contested by modern Turkey; for example, a Turkish-Canadian actor becomes increasingly uncomfortable with playing the role of an evil Turkish military officer in Saroyan's film.

There are also a number of secondary plots. One involves the relationship between Ani, an art historian and expert on Gorky and adviser on Saroyan's fictional film, and her son Raffi. Another features Raffi and a Canadian customs official, David (played by Christopher Plummer), who interrogates Raffi for smuggling film footage of ruined Armenian churches from Turkey needed for Saroyan's movie.

Tropes include:

  • Agony of the Feet: A particularly brutal instance of this trope occurs in the movie-within-a-movie, as Jevdet Bey sentences Arshille Gorky's little brother to have nails driven through his feet. It's only done as a Scream Discretion Shot though.
  • Artistic License – Geography/Eiffel Tower Effect: In-universe example; someone points out to Saroyan while he's filming that you wouldn't actually be able to see Mt. Ararat from the city of Van (while Saroyan's film has Mt. Ararat as a backdrop). Saroyan decided to keep it in anyway for the effect.
  • Advertisement:
  • Becoming the Mask: Ali, the Turkish actor who starts to deny the genocide is accused of Becoming the Mask by Raffi.
  • Brother–Sister Incest: Raffi carries out an affair with his step-sister Celia, which he justifies using the Not Blood Siblings rationale.
  • Fan Disservice: The sex scene between Celia and Raffi is a very nice, erotic moment out of context, but not so much in context.
  • Man on Fire: The young Arshille Gorky witnesses Turkish soldiers stripping down his mother and sister and then setting them on fire.
  • Motive Rant: Jevdet Bey gives one to a young Arshille Gorky after he's captured, as to why he thinks the Armenians deserve what he and his soldiers are doing to them.
  • Movie Within A Movie: The clips from said movie-within-a-movie are arguably more exciting and done on a higher budget than the rest of the film, which is more of a mundane drama.
  • Advertisement:
  • Postmodernism: Dramatic scenes from the movie-within-a-movie are broken by suddenly panning back to see the Director and Film crew, or by having an Art Professor storm onto a set and argue with the lead actor about how he's playing the artist she's spent her career on, with the actor arguing back while still in character — while reminding you from this that even this is two actors playing roles in Real Life.
  • Rape as Drama: Saroyan's film includes a scene where Jevdet Bey brutally rapes an Armenian woman in front of her own daughter.
  • Regional Riff: The score heavily incorporates elements of traditional Armenian music.
  • Would Be Rude to Say "Genocide": The Turkish actor playing Jevdet Bey, portrayed in the film as a monster, begins having doubts that the genocide occurred. Unfortunately, making an actual film like Saroyan is trying to make in Real Life would be difficult due to this trope. Egoyan barely got away with it, mostly because it's an independent film, made in Canada where the genocide has been recognized. In fact the next major film to cover the subject, The Promise (2016), was only produced because of Kirk Kerkorian, an Armenian-American who was wealthy enough to actually overcome Turkey's obstacles and not to be effected too badly when the film under-performed due in part to their meddling. When this film was screened in Turkey all references to the word "genocide", as well as several scenes depicting massacres, were edited out.