‘Aurora’s Sunrise’ Review: A Patchwork Record of the Armenian Genocide

5/5 - (10 votes)

The documentary film “Aurora’s Sunrise” tells the extraordinary and harrowing story of Aurora Mardiganian, a survivor of the Armenian genocide that took place in 1915. At the age of 14, Aurora lived in a small town within the Ottoman Empire when the violence erupted. Tragedy struck when her father and brother were mercilessly executed by Ottoman Turk soldiers. Subsequently, she was forced to endure a grueling death march across the Syrian desert, where she witnessed unspeakable horrors. Rivers contaminated with lifeless bodies, desperate children pleading for their lives, and marauding bandits looting the caravans of survivors were sights etched into Aurora’s memory.

Yet, against all odds, Aurora managed to escape from the horrors she endured with the assistance of Armenian resistance groups. Her survival itself was a remarkable feat, but her most astonishing achievement was that she was able to record her own memories of the events. Following her resettlement in the United States, Aurora starred in the 1919 silent film “Auction of Souls,” which portrayed her own life. Even in the subsequent decades, Aurora continuously shared her experiences through interviews that were documented on film.

Director Inna Sahakyan skillfully weaves together the various materials left behind by Aurora to create a cohesive narrative of her life. The documentary incorporates clips from “Auction of Souls” and footage from Aurora’s later interviews, complemented by animated re-enactments of her recorded memories. While some aspects of the animation may feel outdated, reminiscent of the style employed in the 2008 war docudrama “Waltz With Bashir,” Sahakyan’s compilation remains impressively seamless. The film succeeds in reconstructing and preserving the personal account of a long-overlooked genocide. The coherence of this documentary is a testament to both the filmmaker’s skill and Aurora’s heroic efforts to ensure that her perspective on history would not be forgotten.

“Aurora’s Sunrise” is an unrated film presented with subtitles in Armenian, Turkish, English, German, and Kurdish. It has a running time of 1 hour and 36 minutes and is currently screening in theaters.

In conclusion, “Aurora’s Sunrise” brings to light the incredible story of Aurora Mardiganian, an Armenian survivor of the 1915 genocide. Through her resilience and determination, she was not only able to overcome the atrocities she endured but also record her memories for future generations to learn from. This documentary serves as a powerful tribute to Aurora’s courage and ensures that the history of the Armenian genocide is not forgotten.

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