China Post 1/206350/The-Lark.htm
May 1 2009

The Lark Farm is set in a small Turkish town in 1915. It deals with
the genocide of Armenians, looking closely at the fortunes, or rather,
misfortunes of one wealthy Armenian family. The movie starts as the
Avakians have a family gathering in their house to honor the patriarch
who has just passed away. The local Turkish military official (Colonel
Arkan) and his wife, who are friends of Aram and Armineh, also attend
the gathering.

Aram then invites his brother, who has been living in Italy since age
14, to come to the ancestral home, the Lark Farm, for a reunion. While
the family prepares for the event, the Turk soldiers are getting
orders to eliminate the Armenians. Their orders are to kill all the
men, deport the women and seize the property. The goal is to reclaim
"Turkey for the Turks." Twisted into the story is a dangerous romance
between Aram's sister Nunik (Spanish actress Paz Vega) and a Turkish
soldier (Egon).

The happy family seems to ignore the early telltale signs that danger
is approaching. When they do decide to do something, it is that the
whole clan should take refuge in the Lark Farm. However, the once
joyful scene at the farm soon turns bloody. The family is betrayed by
a Turkish beggar (Nazim) whom they had been kind to. Soon, without
a warning, a military detachment arrives to carry out the orders,
in spite of Arkan's instructions to the contrary.

The Taviani brothers touch on controversial issue in this film,
showing brutal scenes that are not easily forgotten. After the men are
beheaded, castrated, mutilated and left to die outside the farmhouse,
the women are marched into the desert, doomed to die as well. The
slaughter continues there, as the young women are used for the pleasure
of the soldiers who are escorting the group. There are more gruesome
scenes of women being stripped naked, of torture, burning, and more
beheading. And of course, one romance is not enough for our leading
lady. A relationship soon develops between Nunik and a young soldier
(Yussuf) who does not fully agree with his orders.

Nazim, now feeling guilty about what he has done, tries to save what
is left of the family with the help of their Greek nanny (Ismene).

The directors commented that they had been searching for some time for
a story that looks at "the darkest tragedy of our times, massacres
between peoples who have been friends, between ethnic groups living
side by side." They continue, "The film is inspired by a sense of
guilt. Three years ago, almost by chance, we discovered the Armenian
tragedy." The movie is based on a book by an Italian author of
Armenian origin, Antonia Arslan's, "Skylark Farm." "It is something
like an indirect autobiography, as she narrates the holocaust of her
family. It is both a novel and a document." However, the directors
have not tried to build a historical framework with this work,
but instead tried to follow specific characters, their particular
unique destinies, and then project them in a huge collective event -
one which reveals itself with all its horror today, but which has its
roots in the past. The story of Nunik, Armineh, Aram: the Armenians;
and Nazim, Arkan, Egon, Yussuf: the Turks. While the movie boasts a big
cast from different countries, and shows characters who are Italian,
Armenian, Spanish and Turkish, it does seems strange to the audience
how all the characters manage to speak such fluent Italian! Thanks to
the dubbing, the characters seem to lose their individuality. There
also does not seem to be focus on any particular characters, but they
all just represent victims and eyewitnesses, rather than main roles.

Past masterpieces of the militant Italian directors, who are almost
80, include Padre Padrone (1977) and Notte di San Lorenzo (1982),
both tackling political or controversial issues of the time. "The
Lark Farm," a joint production of Italy, Bulgaria, France and Spain,
is also on a controversial issue, and is the first movie on this topic
made by a non-Armenian director. The previous one was Armenian director
Atom Egoyan's "Ararat." Although there have been talks of making a
Hollywood movie about the events, it has still not happened due to
political reasons. "The Lark Farm" was premiered in 2007 during the
Berlin Film Festival. According to the Taviani brothers, this movie is
not anti-Turkish. In fact, it is Turks who try to help the survivors
in the movie. But the directors hope that Turkey can come to terms with
and publicly recognize the historical truth of the Armenian tragedy.

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress