|Namus. Click to enlarge the images. Poster by Stenberg. Susan (Maria Shakhubatyan-Tatieva) surrounded by visions of her lover Seyran (Samvel Mkrtchan) and husband Rustam (Grachya Nersesyan).|
Based on the novel (1885) by Alexander Shirvanzade.
As a change into the programme in which the sonorized version was announced a silent version of Namus was screened instead, with Gabriel Thibaudeau at the grand piano. (The sonorized version to be screened separately.)
Viewed at Cinema Lumiere - Sala Officinema/Mastroianni (Bologna) (Armenia. Genocide and After) in an original bilingual version with Armenian and Russian intertitles with simultaneous earphone translation into Italian and English with an introduction by Peter Bagrov, 2 July 2015.
Anna Malgina (Il Cinema Ritrovato catalogue and website): "Namus was the first Armenian film to be released in June 1926 by the film studio of Gosfotokino in Armenia, in collaboration with the Goskinoprom of Georgia. The film, based on a novel by the Armenian writer Alexander Shirvanzade, describes the everyday life in a provincial town of Shamakhi during the 1860-70s, and the tragic events that result from the prejudices of pre-revolutionary Armenia. The plot evolves around the drama of the two young lovers who fall victim to the cruel and omnipotent adat, the traditional rules and laws. After extensive acting experience in pre-revolutionary Russian cinema, as well as experience directing film at the Georgian film studio, Hamo Beknazaryan became the first film director of the Republic of Armenia."
"Namus became the first realistic Soviet film that portrayed the everyday life of the 19th century East. In contrast to the many examples of previous Oriental films, which were made in other countries, the director managed to avoid vulgarization and simplification of Eastern exoticism. On the contrary, Beknazaryan’s realism reaches its depth in such episodes as the wedding scene. In its depiction of an earthquake, for instance, the film even becomes a striking example of extreme naturalism. Some critics defined Namus as an ethnographic film, mainly because of its focus on the ancient customs and the old way of life. But for Beknazaryan the ethnographic material is only a background for the depiction of the national characters."
"Similarly, through the use of close-ups he highlights characteristic details in images of the Armenian people. The real, non-schematized portraits of Armenians with their gestures, facial expressions, habits, relationships appear on the film screen. One of the main advantages of the film, in the critics’ opinion, was the choice of the actors who mainly came from the national Armenian theatrical background."
"Beknazaryan combines good acting with cinematic techniques like cross-cutting and dissolves and the film surely benefits from the combination. On the one hand, it is a powerfully accurate image of reality, on the other, – a romantic love story."
"The film enjoyed a tremendous success – to which the Moscow tobacco factory Java responded by the immediate introduction of a new popular cigarette brand called Namus. The film was released not only in the Soviet Union, but also in Europe, America and in the Middle East."
"In the early 1930s the film was post-synchronized (according to the common practice in Soviet cinema) with specially written music by Armenian composers Nikoghayos Tigranyan, Sargis Barkhudaryan, Martyn Mazmanyan and with authentic folk music played on a traditional instrument, the zurna."
"Gosfilmofond holds two versions of Namus: the sound print with the original bilingual (Armenian and Russian) intertitles, plus a silent version, re-edited in 1938 at the Erivan film studio, with slightly modified intertitles. The recently rediscovered sound version of Namus with the Armenian musical accompaniment will be presented at the festival." (Anna Malgina)
AA: A memorable, important film, a strong tragedy from the Caucasus.
In his introduction Peter Bagrov told us about Hamo Beknazaryan / Amo Bek-Nazarov, the founding father of Armenian cinema, of both fiction and non-fiction, works of ethnographic value. He worked both in Armenia and Georgia, and he covered many genres. Not obsessed with montage he found excellent actors from the Armenian theatre. Nobody took him seriously as an artist. Pepo is generally considered his masterpiece.
The tragedy of Namus starts in 1895 with an earthquake. We are introduced to the brutal patriarch who disciplines his family horribly with beatings and whippings, also on the soles, also his daughter Susan, to the point that a doctor is needed. Susan loves Seyran, the potter's son, but a matchmaker is engaged, and the deal is made of a marriage with Rustam the rich merchant. There is a grand wedding, a failed kidnapping plan by Seyran, a long account of wedding traditions, and a stream of consciousness montage of Susan's wish to commit suicide. After the wedding Rustam goes on with his successful business and Seyran becomes a drunken tramp. Yet Rustam is madly jealous, and due to a ruse of Seyran's (as a childhood friend he is aware of a mark in Susan's breast) he is ready believe anything. There is a general grief in the end as the parties of the tragic triangle die.
Dignity in the visages of people facing devastation. The milieux and the situations are strikingly realistic. The acting is underplayed.
In the relay translation into Italian and further into English a lot was left untranslated or badly translated which made it occasionally difficult to follow the film. (Also the introduction on this Gosfilmofond Istoriya series print was not translated).
The print was fine to ok.