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Ravished Armenia (1919): Bearing Witness in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction

Some Thoughts on a Film-Ordeal
  • Sévane Garibian
Part of the Palgrave Studies in the History of Genocide book series (PSHG)

Abstract

The challenges raised by genocides and by the multiple forms of testimony which narrate, translate, process, represent, and bring them, so to speak, into the present, are considerable.2 Given these difficulties, a return to the writings of Walter Benjamin proves useful insofar as these contain tools vital for the construction of a nonlinear thought-process, one which is awake and aware of its own fragmented, de-systematized reflection.3 In this article we set out to establish a dialogue between two of his most important works — “The work of art in the age of mechanical reproduction” (1939) (Benjamin, 1973/1939: 211–244) and “Theses on the philosophy of history” (1940) (Benjamin, 1973/1940: 245–255) — by considering a truly extraordinary film. Although barely known, if not entirely forgotten, this film nevertheless carries within it the seeds — avant la lettre — of the Benjaminian concept of a “cinematic history,” of the cinema as a potential mode of “historical awakening”.4 A film which can be seen as both a simulacrum and a revelation.

Keywords

Mechanical Reproduction Silent Cinema Publicity Campaign American Cinema Armenian Genocide 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Sévane Garibian 2016

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  • Sévane Garibian

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