Artavazd Peleshian (b. 1938)
We (1969)
Sheep and mountains have almost become Armenian identities of sorts, thanks to the films of Sergei Paradjanov. We (Menq, 1969), which begins and ends with the image of a gargantuan mountain, is perhaps the most "Armenian" of all Peleshian movies. We are shown images of mountains falling apart before being cut to a large funeral procession. This is followed by visuals of common people carrying on with their everyday work, - some utterly mundane, some shockingly risky - as if proving the adage "Life must go on". For the first time, religion, which was a major reason for the Armenian Genocide, makes its presence felt in a Peleshian film. It isn't just personal disappointments that these people seem to putting behind them, but shattering national tragedies, despite (and perhaps because of) which their faith stands affirmed - in religion, in life. The last third of the film acts as a meeting point and the resolution for these two types of calamities as we are presented visuals of reunions of families (and of people who seem to be returning from an exile). More than anything We feels like an ode to the resilience of, in particular, the Armenian people (although Peleshian himself denies this!), who have had to put up with a lot through the centuries and, in general, the spirit of everyday heroes. If at all anything can be made of Peleshian's attitude here, it must be his unassailable faith on the ability of humanity to survive no matter how difficult it makes it for itself.