The Lark Farm (2007)
A stirring and stunning story of an aristocratic family who is unexpectedly swept into the ravages of World War I and a forbidden passion that may be the family's only hope.
- As adapted from the novel by Antonia Arslan and co-directed by legendary Italian brothers Paolo and Vittorio Taviani, The Lark Farm marks one of the few international features to squarely address the 1915 Armenian genocide which occurred during World War I in the waning days of the Ottoman Empire under the "Young Turks" regime. The story (with its thematic parallels, in the early scenes, to De Sica's 1970 Garden of the Finzi-Continis) concerns the Avakian clan. An Armenian family living an affluent lifestyle, the Avakians feel convinced that the rising tide of Turkish hostility on the horizon means little to them and will scarcely affect them. Indeed, The Avakians ignore all the warning signs, and set about preparing for a family reunion of two well-to-do sons - landowner Aram, who resides in Turkey, and Assadour, a physician living in Venice. These illusions come crashing down when a Turkish military detachment arrives at the house, annihilates every male member of the family and forces the women and girls to trek across Turkey into the Syrian desert, where those who have survived the trek will be slaughtered. The film also shows the divisions among ethnic Turks themselves, including those in the Ottoman military who are actively involved in carrying out the actions against the Armenian population. Central to the early part of the film is a relationship between a handsome Turkish officer (Alessandro Preziosi) and Aram's daughter. The officer attempts to deliver her from certain death, even as the circumstances surrounding him drive him to ultimately abandon her. The film ends with the abortive post-war trial of officers who carried out the slaughter of the Armenians, some with enthusiasm, some reluctantly, which starkly highlights how even those deeply opposed to the policy nonetheless found themselves taking up the sword as executioners.