Thursday, 29 October 2009


Simultaneously a psychedelic film experience and a candid paean to the nation of Armenia, 27-minute abstract documentary We begins by colliding short shots of explosions and crumbling mountains with close-ups of the steady arms of pallbearers, carrying a coffin through a crowd. A palindromic shot shows the crowd swaying to and fro, no individual discernible. The filthy, uneven fingernails of manual labourers are seen whitening with pressure as they work tirelessly on various heavy-duty tasks – some pull guy ropes, some lift rocks. A lion is seen skulking in a cage, its jaw frozen impatiently in a permanent growl. A man defiantly carries a sheep up a mountain. Candles are lit as throngs of people climb a hill in a funeral procession. The last third of the film focuses mostly on the faces of people mourning and families reuniting, interrupted by further explosions.

Director Artavazd Peleshian is frequently noted as a significant influence on Jean-Luc Godard, the man who helped bring his name to the public’s attention, and there are occasional flashes of stylistic similarities in We. The film also brings to mind two silent documentaries – Manhatta (1921) and Berlin: Symphony Of A Great City (1927), both of which share We’s staunch patriotism. Peleshian presents us with a sensitive précis of the Armenian personality, showing the population as they soldier on with their lives despite the encircling grief of a national tragedy (the Armenian Genocide is hinted at). We may be short, but Peleshian’s contrapuntal editing style packs an emotional punch.

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