Fatih Akin - Series
Director: Fatih Akin, colour, 135 min., 2013/14
1915: The Ottoman Empire has formed an alliance with Germany and Austria-Hungary. Minorities are now considered the enemies of the Turks. It is the beginning of the Armenian genocide. In Mardin, in south-eastern Turkey, the police detain the blacksmith Nazaret early one morning, and deport him, along with all the other Armenian Christians. Without knowing what has become of his wife and two children, he is forced to toil with other prisoners in the desert as a forced labourer. There, they see a chain gang of abducted women, children and old people and helplessly watch on as one woman is raped.
A year later, the prisoners are still struggling to break rocks in the desert when an envoy from Diyarbakir arrives, promising them immediate freedom if they convert to Islam. Only a few of the men agree, and are berated by others, who call them traitors. The next day, a forcefully recruited execution squad is ordered to cut the throats of the remaining Armenians. Nazaret is the sole survivor of the massacre. Mehmet, who was supposed to kill Nazaret, only seriously injures his throat, and shows up again that night to save him. Mehmet helps Nazaret, who can no longer speak since his injury, to escape. He finds further support from deserters, until he pushes on alone and collapses in the blazing heat. His wife appears in a dream and encourages him. He picks himself up and drags on, is given water by Bedouins and finally arrives at a refugee camp in Ras al-Ayn (now in Syria).
This is a place of horror and death. Nazaret meets his sister-in-law, who begs him to end her suffering. He fulfils her last wish, continues his flight in a freight car, is forced to jump out and meets the soap manufacturer Omar Nasreddin, who brings him to Aleppo and gives him work, food and lodging. In November 1918, news arrives of the end the war and Turkish rule. Coincidentally, Nazaret learns that his daughters are still alive; he embarks on a long quest that leads him to Lebanon, Cuba and the USA.
In 1923, his painful and agonising odyssey finally comes to an end. He finds one of his two daughters, who tells him of the death of her twin sister. Together, they visit the grave. Then they leave and the future remains open.