It is very difficult for me to talk about Dovlatyan as I have written and talked a lot about him, and I might repeat myself willy-nilly. It is hard to choose what to emphasize more but I will try to highlight all the points that are worth highlighting.
Certainly such things as “anniversaries” have little to do with such artists as Frunze Dovlatyan. There is no need to remember him, he is always present. He is present in the Armenian cinema so much that he simply cannot be separated from it. As long as the concept of the “Armenian cinema” exists, so does the name Frunze Dovlatyan. Thus on the occasion of his anniversary I don’t want to speak about him rather I want to emphasize what ensures his presence and what makes him different from other art workers. Notably I think that my best film article was the comparative analysis of Dovlatyan and Malyan, which was approved neither by Malyan nor Dovlatyan.
There is such a concept “local genius”. This means that you have your sanctuary where you are born, get feed and what you seek. Both Malyan and Dovlatyan are local geniuses but in cases of both of them it is based on from where they come and where they are going. Malyan was from Telavi…It was clear that he didn’t seek Telavi anymore. But during his whole lifetime Malyan was looking for his home in Armenia. He even changed his house for a few times. And it was expressed in his films. The most important problem for Malyan seems to find a place that seems familiar. Home is the most important thing for Malyan. In the “Triangle” that workshop is his home, in the film “We and Our Mountains” that home is lacking and the heroes are looking for their home in the mountains. Here is the main concept that reveals Malyan’s secret. In this respect “the local genus” fits Malyan who couldn’t finally manage to find that place. The aspiration into home provides the essence of his genius.
Dovlatyan had his own place, Gavar. But he always left his native town as the road was more important for him than his home. The road played a primary role for Dovlatov: a road to outside. He didn’t like narrowness, which was exactly the opposite to Malyan. He was “grasping”. In the above mentioned article I have described them with the same attributes: “greedy” for one and “grasping” for the other.
A road to the unknown. I often say that one of the best films of Dovlatyan was “Delivery” (“Yerkunq” in original). When the film script was given to him he wasn’t very excited. He thought that he had already got acquainted with similar material in the film “Saroyan Brothers” so it was not interesting for him anymore. He avoided repetitions and didn’t even want to repeat himself. Later, of course, he found the new color and shot the film. This is the road: a road to the new and the unknown. This man was always in search of the road: a road that could even lead him to insurmountable obstacles.
Let me bring an example. The film “Chronicle of Yerevan Days” received controversial review and was even at the risk of prohibition. The majority of people didn’t understand the film, and some people overestimated it. He had invaded a field for which the society was not ready. He created a character who wasn’t comprehensible. It wasn’t clear who he was or what he wanted. A decade later Roman Balayan and the others recreated that hero. During the period of the “Chronicle” there wasn’t such a hero, the film was ahead of time. Today this film may seem to be very simple for many people, and they might even wonder why this film was not correctly evaluated at that time. Search, search and again search: this was Dovlatyan’s road.
In this connection “The Lonely Walnut Tree” is essentially different. The film has an important feature. In that film he allowed himself to open up as an actor. He has started his career on the stage, had played different role since childhood and didn’t manage to get rid of that children’s cover. Maybe that is the reason he “suppressed” himself in all the films. But he gave himself freedom in that film. The film has also another achievement. Here we find the road that led him to join Malyan in some point. Let’s remember the end of the film “Hello, it’s me”. The priest asks the hero “Have you got lost, my boy?” The answer was found later: “No, these places are familiar to me.” Dovlatyan stressed the importance of the road that was meant to lead far away and then bring back to the same place. That is how Malyan and Dovlatyan complement each other. One establishes the destination, the other shows the road to that destination.
Nowadays it is impossible to imagine the Armenian cinema without the two of them, the same way as without the other pair of Parajanov and Peleshyan. These four people provide the diagram of the Armenian cinema. In one case we see composition and collage collecting everything in an image, and in the other case there is a constant motion: a motion impossible to stop anywhere. This is the film formula. We can be proud to have provided the formula of the world cinema.