The Cut: a Biblical Western

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The Cut: a Biblical Western: a new film by Fatih Akin, the German film director and producer.

The poster of ‘The Cut’ looks like that of an old-school Western: a lonely figure of a man is walking down a deserted street of some small town. Presenting the film, Fatih Akin, the director, said that he was inspired by the Western genre. You can see the inspiration in the film: electric guitar playing in the background, plenty of long, panoramic views of deserts and roads, with the main character walking along the horizon. The choice of the story, though, is far from traditional: a young man sets out on a long journey. He doesn’t know it yet, but he will cross half the world before he reaches his destination.

This man, Nazaret, is an Armenian, who lived in a small village in Turkey, before he was summoned to work for the army in 1914. Soon after that, his family was killed in the genocide. As the civil war started in Turkey, he wandered south, into Syria, and learned that his two daughters had survived the genocide. He starts his search for them, and it will take him several years before he finds them.

This film is part of Akin’s trilogy about human nature: Love, Death, and Devil. This is Devil ‒ the concluding part ‒ the darkest and most dramatic story, showing people at their worst. The film is strewn with references to the Bible ‒ but this time, taken into the harsh reality of a civil war. A man sacrifices himself to save his family, but tragically they get killed soon after. He wanders through the desert on his own, loses his voice, but on his first day back with humans he has to kill a woman to end her suffering, because this is the only way he can help her. He can not offer any help to the people he meets during his journey, and has to steal and fight for food. His hope to ‘resurrect’ the daughters he thought were long dead dwindles, and the ending is far from happy.

The film meticulously reconstructs the details of the story: not only clothes and food, but languages, too: most characters speak their national languages ‒ Turkish, Arabic, Spanish, and only Armenian is substituted with English. The soundtrack is slow-paced, but dramatic, with the lyrics in Armenian or Berber.

One might believe that the director has tried to sweeten the bitter story by giving it an epic dimension: the main character crosses half the world on his own, escaping death in its different forms, now a marauder, desert, or hunger ‒ and remains himself, still fairly young and very good looking. Something you might expect of Odissey or Siegfrid, but not of a real person. But it was, probably, a good idea: in the end, the film feels more thought-provoking than depressing.

Written by Daria Sukharchuk

Photo copyright: http://thefilmstage.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/the_cut_poster.jpg 

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