Manuel Menengichian, a beautiful love story and all in Armenian. It’s rather extremely hard to come across this amazingly perfect combination. Between cheesy lines and typical 20th century acting, Manuel’s Tears of Happiness definitely tops the list of a perfect oldies Armenian love story. I was very young when my mother surprised me with this film and have been an avid fan, constantly calling for the “Silva” videocassette for many years. Once I discovered the music cassette and then the CD that held most of his songs, I treasured it with my heart. Each and every song is special. Grab a loved one, cuddle on the couch, and for those who have never seen Manuel’s films, please do enjoy!
PS: subtitles included for those who don’t understand Armenian
When I was much younger, around the age of 10 or 12, my mother brought home the video cassettes of Manuel Menengichian’s films: Sassouni Zavagner (Sons of Sassoun) and Yerchangoutchyan Artsounkneruh (Tears of Happiness). I fell in love, for the first time, with an actor/singer. To this day, I’m an avid fan of the man who acted wonderfully in my young eyes, who won the hearts of the most virtuous and courageous women and who would do anything and everything to obtain his heart’s desires. I sang the songs while others wondered why I didn’t know any of the newest MTV hits. My heart broke for him every time I heard him sing to his Silva, begging her to return. My smile was ear to ear every time I heard him sing his lively love songs.
For the years they were made, on a low budget, the films are actually very good! This is especially true when comparing to the later series I would fall in love with, like “Xena: Warrior Princess” and “Sinbad”.
“Sons of Sassoun” is the story of the Armenian Armed struggle against the atrocities of Sultan Hamid’s regime. It shows the united front of Turks and Armenian in the toppling of the Red Sultan and the glee in pulling up the Young Turkish regime. Little did these freedom fighters know that in a few short years, all their dreams would crumble and aspirations for a better future would be buried under the ashes of their burnt world. The film pulls in a lot of Armenian traditions, from the wedding ceremonies to the dances of our people. It also adds comedic relief, criticizing the Turkish treatment of it’s “infidel” minorities.
To this day, the film is a gem for me to watch over and over again.
The genocide is a topic all Armenians are familiar with. They have grown up with the stories of their grandparents, great grandparents and those who came before. They have read about the atrocities and researched for themselves even more. They have felt anger and hatred towards the Turks and fought with them, online or otherwise. Armenians know of the deportations, of Der Zor and of the atrocious acts committed by heartless gendarmes. They know the Young Turks betrayed them, they know about the triumvirate, and if they are Tashnag or have grown up around a Tashnagtsagan community, they know the words to “Kini Lits” by heart.
However, for all that Armenians know and stuff down the throats of others, willing the world to acknowledge and accept, there are many elements that are left unknown. “My Grandmother’s Tattoos” is a film outlining one particular aspect few have even heard about. The tattoos that marked Armenian women, resembling that of nomadic Kurds still in the area, are a horrendous reminder to those who suffered much at the hands of those who wished to annihilate them. They mark the slavery of the women, most possibly in terms of sex slavery. They mark the defiling of the innocents and the destruction of their ability to feel. The film outlines what becomes of these women, should they be lucky enough to escape. For them, I doubt it’s always a lucky thing, for they have to live with what happened to them and what they were forced to do until the end of their lives. Furthermore, the offspring of these women will never understand them. The children will feel no love from them, as was the case in this particular family, and will generally fear them. These women will become as ghosts, shells of their former selves. Killing them would have been a mercy, but their survival was important to ensure the world knew about what had occurred and demanded justice. We owe it to these suffering souls who escaped their brutal conditions that we even know a fraction of what occurred during those days of methodologically removing from the world’s conscience the existence of an entire race.
The film is not Hollywood. It’s a personal documentary, a journey put in digital format for the world to see. Watch it, share it, and let the world learn about it…..
I was sitting there, watching the 1982 movie “Gandhi” and realized, back in high school, I was lucky to have had teachers who barely even touched the history books and taught us what was NOT in there.. but how did they miss out on teaching us about Gandhi? about India’s independence and the Pakistan separation? Why did we never learn about all the countries that are not European? The history books covered North America, the teachers covered Europe and Armenian class covered Armenia… What happened to South America though? What about India? why did we just gloss over most of the world? Worst part is, Canada has a huge Asian, African, and Indian population, yet the children are not taught anything substantial. People scoff at you when they find you are a nationalist and yet do not realize that those in these lands are the ethnocentric ones. They do away with religion, ban God from all institutions, preach brotherhood, and yet fail to respect what makes each one of us who we are. How many in Canada can understand the war and suffering that most places outside Europe and North America know? How many truly understand hunger and poverty? Africa is the poster child of these anomalies, but who even cares about what’s occurring? Who lifts a hand to help? Watching “Gandhi” made me realize something else as well… All these states are rising up to overthrow governments, so much bloodshed and massacre, no much pain, all for what? Gandhi’s tutelage meant the overthrow of the British governance over India and the state’s sovereignty through peace. The “little man from India” managed to rock the world in a manner unheard of before and unseen ever since… He spoke for the people, gave them back their rights and ignited love and brotherhood in the hearts of the masses, no matter their religion. Having such a tremendous example taking place only a few decades ago, how could we be resorting to such barbaric tactics as are seen today? A particular scene touched me: it was during Gandhi’s last fast while the Hindu-Muslim war waged on and Pakistan declared it’s statehood, when a Hindu man confessed to having killed a Muslim child in retaliation to his own son’s slaughter. The man cried, knowing he would go to hell, but Gandhi had a solution: to find an orphaned child around the same age as his murdered son who was also a Muslim and to raise the child as his own, in the Muslim ways. Such wisdom existed in this world amidst the chaos and destruction of the World Wars. Why must the hatred still run deep, the West not know or care about the East and each nation selfishly pursue their own interests? have we not evolved beyond such absurdities? We call ourselves progressive, modern, no longer barbaric, and yet the moment someone looks at us in a strange manner, we’re ready to shed blood. When will new Gandhis rise and speak with wisdom and goodness, placating man’s inner beast and pulling out his inner beauty? Perhaps, new history books that include such incredible events should be printed, forgoing the constant repetitions of the West’s superiority and focusing instead on the incredible victories achieved through peaceful means…
My sincere prayers that this will not always be simply a dream
Movie reference: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0083987/