The Armenian genocide, an act of insanity, which is still not recognized for a hundred years by Turkey, has made fools of pain to the Armenian survivors and their progeny in the world. Robert Guédiguian, who is involved in his own personal history, tells us in A CRAZY STORY of the murderous deeds committed by Armenians in rendering justice to their people, but also the way in which each member of the family understands this Story.

And it is true that the weight of the genocide, the consequences of which are still relevant, is somewhat impressive for who wants to criticize a film on this subject, passionately defended by the director that we had the chance to meet (read our interview).

Robert Guédiguian we took in the historical re-enactments with the Army of the Crime or The Walker of the Champ de Mars. In A CRAZY STORY, he looks back on the history of the memory of the Armenian, telling us that the armed struggle of the Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia (ASALA), which has raged in the 1980s in Europe, finds its origins in the acts committed in the 1920s. The Armenian Operation Nemesis were as vigilantes and killed the dignitaries turks who participated in the genocide.

The director took the party to split its story into two, to sixty years apart, with as common point the violence. The film thus opens on the famous trial of Soghomon Tehlirian/Robinson Stévenin for the murder of Talaat Pasha, and who, acquitted, will carry the hopes of all Armenians of the diaspora and the future. The scenes were filmed almost as a documentary, in black and white, with the camera that focuses with empathy on the faces of judges and jury members listening with horror Tehlirian tell the stories of the massacres to which he had attended.

Then we make a leap into History and follow the path idealist of Aram/Syrus Shahidi from Marseille until the training camps in Lebanon. Of course, his conscience to have injured the young Gilles/Grégoire Leprince-Ringuet in the attack on the Turkish ambassador, the tiraillera, up to accept him, ask for forgiveness. The director we brush the portrait of a boy, a little naive, overwhelmed by the events, which is going to evolve and harden off by the force of things. His reflection will lead him to choose a new mode of non-violent struggle without more undergo the influence of his friend, writing Vahé, the young fighter Anahit or the leader of the camp leader of men Vrej.

The molt that will make Aram a man is interesting, but will not cause real emotions, because we are a little like Gilles : we understand his gesture, but we can’t justify it. In fact we did not had the impression that Robert Guédiguian wore judgments, leaving us totally free to think what we want. And the few lines at the end of the film to the address of his fellow Turks rebalance a bit the charge brought against Turkey.

“Despite some imperfections story, A CRAZY STORY, makes us reflect on the madness of the Armenian genocide and to the notions of memory, of revenge, of justice, of shame, of forgiveness and filial love.”

Robert Guédiguian alternates between the scenes in a parallel of the life in Lebanon with those of the parents of Aram Marseille and Gilles discovering his life and his legs broken in his hospital room. He said will be freely inspired from the book The Bomb written by the Spanish journalist José Gurriaran, injured in a bombing of the ASALA, who forgave his tormentors and even became a spokesperson for the Armenian cause.

If we are indeed moved by the stories that tell us the characters, the songs, and the old photographs of the families of the victims, the producer, failed in its purpose in wanting to strengthen the connection with a fiction which transcends reality and loses credibility. Thus, we feel oddly little empathy for Gilles and really none for Anouch/Ariane Ascaride, the mother of Aram. How to believe in fact, even with the best intentions in the world, this mother blinded by the love she feels for her son, up to host Gilles in it ?

Robert Guédiguian objects also the two conceptions of the Armenians about the non-recognition of the genocide : those who fight, cultivating the memory of the actions of the vigilantes of the operation Nemesis, and those that integrate, cultivating their arménité. The latter passed on orally, the culture, language and traditions, but without hatred, such Hovannès/ Simon Abkarian, the father of Aram. The director seems to have voluntarily placed in withdrawal, as a neutral, giving importance to the mother-son relationship and neglecting the relationship father-son. It does not feel anger, just despondency and amazement, as overwhelmed by the situation and by the actions of his wife.

The actors embody their characters with gusto, as Syrus Shahidi, crossed in 24 days, the truth about the Case of Ilan Halimi, and, of course, Simon Abkarian, always excellent. Grégoire Leprince-Ringuet used to play in the films of Robert Guédiguian, such as The Snows of Kilimanjaro , provides a form of distance to her character.

To be dense, the film is dense, and it is necessary, as a spectator, take the shock of many of the historical information that we receive, even if we are familiar with the history of the Armenian people. His merit, his vocation, despite a few imperfections, scriptwriting, is to make us think about the notions of memory, of revenge, of justice, of shame, of forgiveness and filial love.


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Original title : A crazy story

Production : Robert Guédiguian

Screenplay : Robert Guédiguian, Gilles Taurand, based on the work of José Antonio Gurriaran

Main actors : Simon Abkarian, Ariane Ascaride, Syrus Shahidi, Grégoire Leprince-Ringuet, Serge Avédikian

Country of origin : France

Released : 11 November 2015

Duration : 2h14min

Distributor : Diaphana Distribution


Berlin, 1921, Talaat Pasha, the main responsible of the Armenian genocide was executed in the street by Soghomon Thelirian whose family was entirely exterminated. At his trial, he witnessed the first genocide of the 20th century, so much so that the jury settlement.

Sixty years later, Aram, a young marseillais of Armenian origin, blows up in Paris, the car of the ambassador of Turkey. A young cyclist who was passing there by chance, Gilles Tessier, was severely wounded. Aram, on the run, joined the army of liberation of Armenia in Beirut, home of the international revolution in the 80’s. With his comrades, young armenians from around the world, he thinks that it is necessary to resort to the armed struggle for the genocide to be recognized and the land of their grandparents is made.

Gilles, who has lost the use of his legs in the attack, sees his life shattered. He didn’t even know that Armenia existed when Anouch, the mother of Aram, burst into his hospital room : she comes to ask forgiveness in the name of the Armenian people and confesses that it is his own son who planted the bomb. During that Gilles seeks to understand Paris, Anouch becomes crazy of pain to Marseille and Aram between dissidence in Beirut… until the day he agrees to meet his victim to become his spokesperson.

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