24 January 2005 | stephen-357
a giant multi-colored tapestry
A film within a film within a film that plays out through a myriad of interconnected stories sewn into a giant multi-colored tapestry. The so called "Armenian holocaust" is the fabric from which director Egoyan spins his narrative, and this event so heavily laden with emotional baggage, becomes almost impossible to approach with intellectual objectivity. The lines between fact and fiction are constantly blurred as in a scene where the protagonist walks onto a movie set about the "holocaust" and one of the characters scolds her, not as an actor, but as a very real character from that time. At times this constant commingling loses focus, but Egoyan's heartfelt attempt to bring back the dead through his art imitating art approach, succeeds surprisingly well. Although the "holocaust" is shown graphically, Egoyan is aware that we connect most deeply with that to which we can all relate, and this is shown right from the start as an artist attempts to transfer his childhood memories of murdered loved ones to a painter's canvas; the details of a mothers dress . . . the skin of a mothers hand . . . her fingers knitting a quilt. The vivid colors and simple reality of that hand are so compelling they can reach out across decades of despair to caress the forehead, reduce fever, and impart a sense of belonging - a reason for being. From this inauspicious beginning, Egoyan is able to arrive at a much greater truth: the inherent need for human beings to believe in something - whether or not that belief is grounded in reality or can be proved scientifically. Finally, ARATAT concludes with a simple truth that is just as powerful: the immeasurable but often neglected joy at being able to look upon our loved ones and to hold them in an embrace of life.