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CALENDAR (Zeitgeist) (director/writer: Atom Egoyan; cinematographers: Atom Egoyan/Norayr Kasper; editor: Atom Egoyan; music: Duduk; cast: Atom Egoyan (Photographer), Arsinée Khanjian (Wife/Translator), Ashot Adamian (Tour Guide/driver); Runtime: 75; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Doris Hepp; Zeitgeist Films; 1993-Canada/Germany/Armenia-in English)
“Plays as a meditation on the meaning of finding one’s roots and identity.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Armenian-born Canadian indie filmmaker Atom Egoyan (“Family Viewing”/”The Adjuster) subtly helms a cautionary marriage drama involving a love triangle. In this personal film, which might be only entirely clear to the director-writer, Egoyan is able to bring about his usual themes of problems over communication, how relationships are altered by mood swings and the increasing role of video technology in contemporary times–the more advanced the technology, the greater the alienation. It plays as a meditation on the meaning of finding one’s roots and identity, of being an Armenian in a land where one is a foreigner and an open-ended question about assimilation.

Canadian Atom Egoyan goes to Armenia with his wife Arsinée Khanjian (they are a real-life couple) on a commission by the Armenian cultural society to photograph historical Armenian churches for a calendar. While his wife acts as a translator and shows an interest in her native country’s history, he photographs the various Armenian churches but looks upon this experience as just another job despite also being of Armenian descent. The driver, Ashot Adamian, volunteers to act as a tour guide and tells them stories about each church. His wife will fall in love with the tour guide and stay with him in Armenia, while he returns to Canada. A year later the lonesome man plays the videos to contemplate what went wrong with their marriage and refuses to answer his ex’s infrequent phone calls. There are various exotically beautiful women who come up to his apartment to chat, snack and drink wine, but he connects with none of them as they all leave to make a phone call in a foreign language while he jots things down or stares at the calendar.

Despite the shutterbug’s great loss he still can’t express how he feels, as he now lives only for the memories of when he was happily married (this relates to Armenia, which also suffered great tragedies in modern times and now lives through its memories of happier days). In making this film, Egoyan said he was influenced by the great Armenian film The Color of Pomegranates.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”