Cinema of Armenia
An Overview

(ISBN: 978-156-8593029)
2016 Costa Mesa
241 pages
Size: 8" x 10"
Language(s): English

This book is the first English language study of Armenian cinema. It is divided into twelve chapters, followed by an appendix on animation.

Chapter 1 explores the birth of cinema in Armenia in 1899 with a screening in Yerevan and provides the setting for the following survey. Chapter 2 is dedicated to the founder of the Armenian cinema, Hamo Beknazaryan, whose work represents an entire era not only of Armenian but also in Soviet cinema, since his name stands alongside those of Eisenstein, Pudovkin, Dovzhenko, and other great filmmakers. Chapter 3 concerns other works created during the silent period in Armenia. Chapter 4 discusses the processes of Armenian cinema in the Stalin era, broadly covering the period from 1930 to 1959. New filmmakers appeared on the stage during those years. The role of the short film genre is mentioned, as well as films that were shelved by Soviet censorship. Chapter 5 analyzes the most significant films for the subsequent rise of Armenian cinema as well as musical films. Chapters 6 and 7 are devoted to prominent filmakers, Sergei Parajanov and Artavazd Peleshyan, subjecting their works to theoretical and morphological analyses. Chapter 8 is about Armenian documentary cinema and its unique traditions. Chapter 9 deals with the theme of World War II in Armenian cinema. Chapter 10 focuses on the creative search during the 1970s for variety in style and genre, which increased film production. The films of Henrik Malyan and Frunze Dovlatyan are singled out in the discussion, and the most famous films of those years and their international recognition are examined. Chapter 11 explores the work of filmmakers who left their trace on Armenian cinema during the 1970s and 1980s, representing the way of thinking of a new generation and their films, and the successful adaptations of classical works. The chapter also offers a summary of Armenian cinema of the Soviet period. Finally, chapter 12 deals with feature films and documentaries of the post-Soviet era (1990-2010), exploring changes of consciousness and representations of national identity in films of the new era, as well as the international recognition of some films. The appendix provides a brief history of Armenian animation.

While writing the book, the author has tried not to omit any important or significant film or filmmaker. In certain cases, she also dwelt on the actors and their performances as well as the camera operators’ work and the films’ music. As in art history, it is even more so in film history that the content of films is closely connected or even inseparable from the history of the country of production. Therefore, the author sometimes draws brief parallels to decisive and important events in Armenia. Only thanks to such details and explanations do some national nuances of the films become perceptible.

The author has discussed mainly the formation and development of Armenian film history in the context of Soviet cinema, and in some cases, as for example Beknazaryan’s, Parajanov’s, and Peleshyan’s films, she has explored their original film language and their distinctive style in the context of world cinema.

No matter how modern is the look of the book, it would be incorrect to ignore or dismiss the observations of film critics of previous generations; therefore, the author has often given quotations from articles and books from the distant and not so distant past, thus relating past assessments to present views.

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