Notes From Hairenik
July 16, 2009
Last night the film "Bonded Parallels," a joint Norwegian-French-Armenian production directed by Hovhannes Galstyan, was shown to a packed audience at Cinema Moscow. It was the second time that the film was shown during the Golden Apricot Film Festival.

As the name suggests the film tells two similar stories taking place in totally different settings--one in Norway at the end of World War II, and the other in Soviet Armenia in 1988. To the far north an intriguing, lonely woman named Hanna (played by Siri Helene Müller) who lives in a lakeside Norwegian village while awaiting her husband to return from the war gives shelter to a Russian soldier who has strayed off his path. In their conversational mishaps it is revealed that the soldier, Arakel Serge Avedikian), who has a knack for carving wood figurines of animals, is in fact Armenian. Eventually news arrives of her husband's death and Arakel is there to comfort her. Later they travel together to Armenia, where she gives birth to his daughter. Arakel is carted off by army officials shortly after his return never to be seen again, while Hanna tragically dies shortly after childbirth.

The film's narrative weaves both these stories together, and intermittently the scenario taking place in Yerevan unfolds. Laura (wonderfully portrayed by Laurence Ritter, who I personally know) is a strict, emotionless mathematics teacher who finds fault in her sleepy high-school student named Narek (flatly played by Sos Janibekyan of the hit television mob saga, "The Price of Life") who competes as a moped racer. She beats him on the head one day in class with a disciplinary stick, infuriated by his drowsiness, which later affects his performance on track, and as a result he wipes out. Laura takes him to her home to care for him personally where he stays the night, but he finds himself taking shelter there for several days. Their complicated relationship soon intensifies, and in the tumult of the Soviet Union's last days she leaves Armenia for Norway to give birth to her daughter, raising her in Laura's mother's home. By the end of the film the viewer realizes that the events have simply repeated themselves and the stories are in fact, one.

"Bonded Parallels" was shot by cinematographer Rouben Gasparyan, who is a master in capturing the most intimate moments under pure natural light, incorporating earth tones and the magical properties of water vapor to lure the viewer into the film. The cinematography was absolutely beautiful.

The film's soundtrack composed by the brilliant Vahagn Hayrapetyan, who is in my opinion the greatest Armenian jazz musician on the scene today, was spectacular--a wonderful blend of the tradition, soft Armenian song form with a contemporary jazz ensemble vibe.

"Bonded Parallels," which is reminiscent of the interwoven tapestries of personal loss and hope masterfully designed by film director Atom Egoyan, is perhaps the finest Armenian film produced in recent memory. It is incomprehensible that this film will be made accessible to Armenian moviegoers on only two occasions during a film festival, rather than during an extended stay at Cinema Moscow where it was screened.

But perhaps, seeing that with few exceptions Hollywood movies professionally dubbed in Russian are the only movie offerings available here, there may simply be no audience for such films due to lack of interest, I can't say for certain.

It's not clear how Bonded Parallels will be distributed internationally, but this film is unquestionably something to watch for. Read more about the film here and here.


Blogger Vagabonde said...
I found your blog somehow, I don’t know how, and read your two reviews of the movies. They sound very interesting and I shall try to find out if they show them in my area – which I doubt as they don’t usually show these types of films. I also looked at some of your photographs, and they are very interesting. I see that you have had your blog for a long time and I’ll come back to read some more posts. I only have had a blog since last April. I like to find blogs from many areas as it brings the world closer to me.

Blogger Christian Garbis said...
Hi Vagabonde, thanks for visiting and for your comment. Your blog, "Recollections of a Vagabonde" is quite informative and has some fascinating images posted to it. I have already placed a link to your blog on mine.

Blogger Vagabonde said...
Thanks so much for visiting my blog and leaving a comment. It is so nice to know when people enjoy what I write and the pictures I post. I just posted a new one and, if you will read it, at the end I wrote a sentence so I could mention Armenia, just for you.