images (1)Fatikh Akin is one of the brightest contemporary individuals in the European cinema; his films have built their own audience and managed to get a positive critical acclaim at the most renowned film festivals and have their audience.
However, “The Cut” proves to be his weakest film.
One of the most dreadful crimes of the 20th century, the Armenian Genocide has not been recognized by the world’s overpowering countries yet; moreover, it is being tenaciously denied by its perpetuator – Turkey. Any activity, among them cultural ones, dedicated to the commemoration of the centennial of the Genocide, which is initiated and implemented by Armenia, is certain to bear some political implications. To be more particular, any undertaking related to the Genocide cannot but have a political undertone siding with one of the parties.
Many of us were awaiting ‘’The Cut’’ made by Fatikh Akin, a German film director of Turkish origin. Those who believed that it might really reflect the Genocide and foster its international recognition were the most eager anticipators of the film. However, after watching the film one can only perceive an idea of “the wolves are fed and the sheep are safe”, moreover, the author’s personal statement is disguised at any cost.

Neither the episode nor even the undertone of the film contradict the official position of Ankara towards the issue of the Genocide. Turkey accepts the fact that during World War 1 many Armenians were massacred and deported as traitors and internal enemies. And it is with an introduction of the above-mentioned that “The Cut” starts: “At the beginning of the 20th century the Ottoman Empire was rapidly collapsing and was involved in World War 1, after which all national minorities became its internal enemies”.

This is a mere distortion of historical facts, according to which the evil crime against the Armenians, thoroughly planned and continuously perpetuated by different Ottoman and Turkish regimes, drops out of the margin. Turkey claims that the Armenian massacres should not be rendered as “Genocide”, which is a crime condemned by international conventions. The creators of “The Cut” display a diplomatic approach to the term of “Genocide” and avoid using directly it in the film.

The capacity of a featuring movie can provide unlimited freedom, the freedom which enables the creator to choose the best artistic preferences and alternatives among all possible solutions. Is it acceptable to fluctuate with an unsustainable position concerning a historical crime and avoid displaying the attitude towards the occurred facts? Meanwhile, in his interviews Fatikh Akin rendered the occurred facts as “the Genocide” many times. Such is the subtle question which is basically generating two contradictory viewpoints. The admirers of the artistic virtues of the film oppose to those who think that the subject of the Genocide was fruitlessly utilized. In fact, the Turkish film director was not risking at all – even the Turks did not boycott the film.

The film protagonist is Nazareth /Tahar Rakhim/, who loses his wife and two daughters in 1915. The Turkish military forcefully send Nazareth to hard labor where he stays for about two years witnessing how his compatriot Armenians are deported in groups. The hard labor men, who are working in the construction of the desert railroad, are destined to be murdered; however, Nazareth is lucky – he happens to come across a kind-hearted Turk, who is not willing to cut his throat. Nazareth survives, moreover, the kind-hearted Turk helps him join a crowd of fugitives and Nazareth hits the road of rescue. The scenes aimed at illustrating the Genocide are limited to this; hence, what was meant to be conveyed by the film director seems conventional, if not ridiculous.

According to the film the Armenians used to be wealthy, Christian enough not to sit down to dinner without a prayer, ready to cheat on one another any time; they were unwilling to obey the order of the state which inhabited, they were ready to bribe the police in order to escape involvement in military actions and could not unite in the face of the oncoming danger. The film gives no adequate comprehension on the fact that the Armenians of Constantinople used to have a rich cultural legacy and were different from other minorities living in other regions of the Ottoman Empire. The mass scenes to depict the deportation and massacres are so scarce that they give no way to realize the full scale of the atrocities. The first seven minutes of the film attempt to picture the events of seven years. The introduction of the historical chronology is so self-driven and illogical that the bitter aftermath of 1915 remains incomprehensible.

So, after a prolonged roaming through the desert Nazareth appears in Beirut where he learns that his daughters are alive, and sets off for them.
The film lasts for three hours eliciting a strong desire to struggle against sleep and boredom. Any country Nazareth chances to visit (by the way, Nazareth is visiting quite a number of them) is described frivolously, not in-depth, just like the protagonist, who does not change throughout the film. “The Cut” is rather vulnerable as a drama movie as the authors did not succeed in making either a western or a road movie failing to preserve tension and unpredictability. The secondary plot stories arouse a number of unanswered questions and confuse the audience – one can put his life at stake for stealing an egg, a rape scene of an Indian woman occurs, revenge actions are perpetuated against the man who refused to marry his daughter, etc.

One could admit that all the above-mentioned aims at introducing the overall politically volatile situation of the world of those times – human hostility and intolerance, thus making the events occurred in Turkey appear in a full logical compliance with the political state of order in the world of that period. But what if such an implication serves the official position of Turkey which is disguised under an artistic cover?

Nazareth, who is introduced in the film as a “culture bearer” and a true Christian, becomes an exile in the turmoil of war, abandons and forgets about his home, culture, Fatherland…is that all quite by chance?

Raffi Movssisyan