“White” is not a disaster movie. This prayerful remembrance”

“I didn’t want to show the viewer the guilty in the tragedy of broken families, didn’t want to talk about the circumstances that could be the reason. The task was to portray a man who is at war with himself.” On November 29 in rolling out the film “white”. About the worst earthquake of the twentieth century, filming in Armenia reflects the film Director Alexander Kott.

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– Mom, can I have a pink blanket to school belong?

– Flannelette, small?


– You can, of course.

In the corner of the gym was piling up the bales with things. I do not remember exactly, but they somehow signed. And then in our third class, closer to spring, came new – a boy and a girl, both of Leninakan. At that time it was common occurrence in the class for six months or a year their son or daughter in the military. We did not realize that the reason for the transition these guys to school in Moscow was an earthquake in Spitak…

The picture on the screen is easy to confuse with a documentary. Bluish and cold haze enveloped the lens. This lightweight mist can not warm up, to melt, to cry. Weird movie effect holds in an unpleasant feeling of unreality. I want to shake him to Wake up from hibernation. Even more – take the phone, send SMS, browse Facebook, votsap, but would not follow heroes on covered with snow and small concrete flour ruins and icy rocks, but would not see my warming, chapped hands that pulled apart the stones break down the slate, smear on the face. “Cold nose, we shot this with a cold nose”, – told on a press-conferences the actor Alexander Kuznetsov. “Cold heart,” corrects him, Alexander Kott.

Still from the film “white”

7 December 1988 a massive earthquake destroyed the whole North-Western part of Armenia. The epicentre was the city of Spitak, which was completely razed to the ground in thirty seconds. Severe damage to Leninakan, Stepanavan, Kirovakan and more than three hundred surrounding villages. For half a minute, so many lasted the earthquake killed 25 thousand people, half a million of the Republic’s residents were left homeless. To help Armenia was then abandoned by the military of the neighboring republics. Special equipment, medicines, doctors, rescuers have sent more than one hundred of the world powers. The humanitarian aid collected throughout the Soviet Union.

Thousands of survivors of the tragedy alive. Many have left Armenia forever and are scattered around the globe, even thirty years later they don’t want to go back. Unbearable terrible was the grief for some, others just have no one and nowhere to come. Half a minute to a life turned on its head, started again.

Still from the film “white”

The main character of the film “white” Mountain – life is also reset. Hearing the news about the earthquake, he goes to the store. So says the woman. It actually comes out to fix this. Flying on a transport plane along with the military in Spitak to find abandoned once my wife, daughter and elderly parents.

Big, tall, strong, with large facial features and expressive blue eyes, the Mountains are strange after all. The fact of the matter is hysterical. When the road to Spitak is jammed with cars, in the trunks of which: food, clothes, medicines, he embarks on a journey on foot through the mountains, spared no effort that he clearly needed. When you need to find a home, he doesn’t remember neither the place nor the street, even neighbors do not know whether the mountain over the Mountain the eyes, or a happy life in Moscow, my memory has been erased?!

Still from the film “white”

His wife Gohar with her little daughter, for which a cinema hall, a local photographer became a trap, as an expression of Christian humility. No “why”, “what”, “what is done”, no tears of despair and cries of indignation. She is full of patience and love, fear for her daughter Anush and faith in the happy deliverance. Exactly in this place in a movie bursts into the fantastic, fabulous line, further emphasizing the impossibility of what is happening. Wonderland, the white rabbit, Alice-Anush – all this gives the viewer to plunge into the abyss of human misery and pain, does not turn the film into a document.

Over the past thirty years, except for the documentary “7 days of hell” picture of sarika Andreasian “Earthquake”, nothing about the tragic events of 1988 were not taken. Will there be another?

Still from the film “white”

Included in this water, and there was no way back

– Alexander, why did you come to this topic?

Thirty years is the perfect time. And close (the participants in the events we all remember), and far (everything can be looked at from the outside, with a cold heart). Thirty years exactly to make a movie without making people hurt. This is a memory, not a “here and now”.

When producer Helen Glickman was asked to become the Director of the film “white”, I agreed immediately. He read the script. He responded to me. “Mine to do”, I thought. And then entered the material: looking at the documents, read it, met those who were there. Included in this water, and there was no way back.

I’m interested in the theme of war and peace. That’s all good, well, suddenly, for reasons that do not depend on us, the world becomes hell. Man loses all, and himself too. An earthquake happens inside of it. I have this thought excited and incredibly excited.

There were just one question – can you? Difficult the pain of others to make their own, to find the exact tone, so as not to knock over the wound, but with a cold heart to tell a story.

Director and is not entitled to be a member, it needs to remain an observer.

Alexander Kott

The earthquake is a personal tragedy. Was the city – no city, there was a man, the family is not. Each has its own loss.

I realized that I wanted to make a movie-a memory, a prayer memory that it was not open emotions – panic, hysteria, tears – and a Requiem. I want to tell you about it in silence.

The movie has a lot of prohibited practices, every Director knows which point to press, so that the audience was crying. I wanted to create a solemn recollection, dry and light.

Once I was at the funeral of a priest and felt a strange sensation. Everything seemed not that happy, not full of light grief, without tragedy, despair, hand-wringing. It was a very unusual funeral. When thought of the movie, I realized: we need to create something similar. Not to be picked in the blood, the guts, not to enjoy this, although it was terrible reality Dec 1988 in Spitak. Tell you need about.

The main word in those days was “silence”. People came to clear the debris, and all the emotions left by the wayside. Pointless to cry, to moan, to mourn, when, not noticing the corpses, we have to work to get a living. This was told by the actors who came to audition, and many participants in the events. In the “minutes of silence” the work was stopped, the technician fell silent, all listened, heard Lee moaning, is there anyone alive under the rubble. About this moment of silence and wanted to tell.

On the sets of the film

From childhood do you remember anything about the tragedy in Armenia? It you personally or loved ones touched then?

– I do not remember anything except that the school collected humanitarian aid. Competed classes who collects the most. And the competition between “A” and “B” was more important than the tragedy itself. All of our children’s world then placed in the space between the house, school and yard. Armenia for me was on the other side. An earthquake somewhere else, not with us. Maybe it’s for the best. If I’m inside, I doubt I could make a movie.

When the story about the recent history, when there is little in the film said about Spitak, what is more important to tell about the tragedy of the Republic, because then he began to unfold the conflict in Karabakh, or about the tragedy of the individual? What was the first?

– In the nineties I was in Karabakh, I deliberately didn’t touch this story. This is a scary story. Maybe it will sound naive, but to me it was more important to tell about the friendship of peoples. Of the Soviet Union, this monster, the Empire was falling apart in the years to pieces, but even barely breathing, in a moment of tragedy, all the United Republic, rushed to help Armenia. Planes flying to help without seeing the borders. There is a block with a picture on the wall. There are representatives of the 15 republics are holding hands. And this picture suddenly makes a crack. I wanted to emphasize that people, even the relationships between them were falling apart, was mutual.

I thought a lot, really only a tragedy can bring people together? And here is the phrase “friendship of peoples”, which today sounds ridiculous and simple-minded, which is to say meaningfully difficult, then it was incredibly relevant. It had weight, meaning, now lost. We have the film speak in their native language – Armenian, Georgian. We consciously did it.

Anyway, it was the last gasp of the Empire, against which the scale sounded a personal tragedy.

A paradox, but when you think that during the great Patriotic war killed 20 million, say figure, and she’s just a terrible number. When they say that died in the war, brother, grandfather, grandfather, father, when you know the victim, associated with him through the umbilical cord, you are experiencing personal pain. 25 thousand died in the earthquake – giant figures. But they are dry sound, stats, compared to the particular tragedy, which just hurts.

– The main character has a prototype?

– No, it’s a collective image. Many will say: “Yes, it’s specific person!” How many of those who left in search of a better life and returned to his homeland in search of himself?! The house isn’t just a building; it’s a metaphor of the Motherland. Any of us trying to escape to one day realize that a better place than where we were born, does not happen. Now in Armenia the Armenians less than worldwide. And they scattered, but remember about their country.

Still from the film “white”

You can tickle nerves viewer, but what to do the main

In 1989 Charles Aznavour dedicated to the earthquake song. More than a week she never left the charts. It was his contribution to the Motherland. You had the idea to include it in the movie?

– First of all, the song Aznavour – independent work. In our film it would have looked a concert room. Secondly, it would be the same forbidden technique. Finally, I am in awe of Aznavour. We turn to him, I’m afraid, had to make a film about Aznavour.

We asked the help of Serj Tankian, vocalist for System of a Down. A talented musician and composer of American origin is Armenian. There is such an effect. Armenians who do not live in Armenia, are very emotionally connected when it comes to helping the homeland. And I haven’t once met in a Los Angeles taxi drivers-Armenians that speak with incredible warmth about relatives that have remained there… I Think in the case of Tankian’s work out something.

He came to Armenia, we showed him the film, was invited to collaborate, he readily agreed. Work was not easy. Still, he’s a star. Not from him and I was all arranged. Together, looking for common ground, and when groped for the language, I think we managed to inspire each other. It was an interesting co-creation.

– Disaster movie – kinoatele. But your accident is someone else’s reality, pain, trouble. What language can be, and how impossible to tell about such things?

– “White” is still not a disaster movie. In the film, the viewer sees only one frame when collapsing the wall of the cinema hall. The disaster has already happened. Our story is about what happened a second after. This is an important moment for me as a Director. “White” is not a genre film, not a film-entertainment. There are good examples of such movies where you and the catastrophe show, and personal experience. However, the mood is always closer to computer games.

You can tickle nerves viewer, to give him relive the moment when a building collapses and the hero at the last second manages to pop up… But the Director is always the question: what to do main? Surprise with the extent and brightness of the picture or to put the person before the problem?

If about “white” write – a Requiem, you will agree, the viewer is just not going to watch it. And this is understandable. Who wants to pay money to participate in the suffering of others?!

Even worse to deceive the viewer a vivid trailer to it after watching left disappointed. So just say “white” is not a disaster movie.

On the sets of the film

A wonderful example is “Saving private Ryan” – a perfect blend of action, attraction and personal the way Tom Hanks on the front line the roads. This pattern, in which everything is balanced: the audience effect, the intensity, large-scale scenes and a simple story of ordinary.

But I shielded myself from the task to shoot a film-catastrophe and the ride, though, because this requires an enormous budget, which is not. To do cheap and bad – obviously cause the reproach and laughter of the audience.

In war films the enemy is obvious. This bad, that good, this General fault. The earthquake not to blame anybody. However your characters, including Mountains, blame yourself for what happened, as if they are the cause of the earthquake? Why?

– I was in a film “the Brest fortress”. There is almost no Germans. They just kind of dark force. And the people in the film are struggling with themselves, with their thoughts and feelings. In the “white” was an opportunity to show antagonists. The story of this disaster and allows you to expand the plot. But I consciously left it and tried to open antagonist on the inside.

The main character of the Mountains fighting with itself. This does not mean that it is good or bad, no. His human heart is a battlefield where the devil is struggling with God.

I didn’t want to show the viewer the guilty in the tragedy of broken families, didn’t want to talk about the circumstances that could be the reason. The task was to portray a man who is at war with itself. Gore blames himself for trying to break ancestral ties, that went from home, was not with them when they are hard.

On the sets of the film

The words of Catholicos – not a religion

Inscribed in the film is footage of performances of the Patriarch of Armenia. Time – 1988 country Soviet Union. Today, the appeal of the Patriarch to the faithful in a situation of tragedy, may be common place, but then… As this scene appeared in the film? Why? Why?

In Armenia it was, and, as it turned out in the process of working on the film, there is a religious connection is not as destroyed as they were destroyed in Central Russia. In the late 80-ies of the word Catholicos of all Armenians Vazgen I, was important, after the tragedy, survivors flocked to the temples. The Republic then flew to many, Gorbachev, for example, and heard all the voice of the Catholicos.

In a time of tragedy, people are wondering: “Why me? What is to blame? Why the killing of an innocent child who had not committed any bad act? Why the baby was left an orphan?” With these questions, people do not go to the Secretary-General and to the Church. Famous, broadcast on Republican TV the speech of the Catholicos explained a lot of people. His message reassured and inspired the Armenians.

Still from the film “white”

– You spent casting in Armenia and was involved in the shooting of people whom tragedy has touched directly and discussed the speech of the Patriarch?

– In the audition, we asked people to share memories. They played, they remembered the time, day. Their memories inspired me. But about the speech of the Patriarch I didn’t ask. The idea is to insert it into a film originated on the stage of the installation. Almost by accident they sent me the record. I realized it was incredible luck. Without this video just will not.

Do you blame the speculation on the religious topic?

– No. At all. This may not be speculation, because the words which sound in film is so precise, penetrating, about Armenia and Armenians. The Catholicos is not an undercover actor, not disguised. This is documentary footage of performances of the Patriarch on television. His words are simple and space and not a religion. And we managed to fit into the fabric of the film.

– What is the mission of the film?

– Less like moralising. Memory, that’s the main thing. I want the audience watched the film only found out about this story, other – remembered. The mission is obvious – to remember.

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