THE SON OF THE OLIVE MERCHANT Image

THE SON OF THE OLIVE MERCHANT

By admin | November 17, 2012

French filmmaker Mathieu Zeitindjioglou is the latest member of a too-fast-growing genre of directors that appears to have problems telling the difference between a serious nonfiction production and a home movie. In this case, Zeitindjioglou has some credible reason for cinematic self-insertion: the film focuses on contemporary Turkish denial of the Armenian genocide, and the director is the descendant of a survivor of the grisly events of 1915.

However, Zeitindjioglou explores the subject in the strangest possible way – he travels to Turkey with his Polish-born wife Anna and he allows her to play tour guide and reporter while he stays behind the camera. Anna’s interviewing skills leave a lot to be desired (she seems to spend a lot of time pressing information from Turks who barely speak English), and she is clearly much more comfortable playing the role of a lazy, silly tourist enjoying Istanbul’s night life and historic sites.

At several points throughout the film, the viewer is assaulted with strange animated sequences based on a tale of how Zeitindjioglou’s ancestor escaped the genocide while wearing a shabby wolf fur. Every now and then, Zeitindjioglou is able to get in a few points on the crassness of the Turkish government’s continued refusal to acknowledge the events of the past, and there is even a snippet of a Turkish propaganda piece that claims the Armenian people were merely relocated without any great loss of life.

But, for the most part, the painfully serious subject is trivialized in a tiresome and self-indulgent manner.

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