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Aurora’s Sunrise

My grandfather served valiantly in World War II, landing on the beaches of Normandy, coming home, and never speaking of it again for decades. Near the end of his life, he started to share some stories, often unexpectedly at family gatherings, things he had never told anyone, but one suspects he had thought about for decades. I often wished I could get him to sit down and talk about his life, but I knew it was too painful for him to do so. I thought of that feeling of what’s lost when we don’t record history while watching the excellent “Aurora’s Sunrise,” a film that both chronicles a horrendously dark chapter in the world but also speaks to the value of filmmaking in the first place. It’s a stunning hybrid that melds animation, interview footage with its subject, and a 1919 silent film once thought lost to history that’s about her life. Imagine being able to sit with a loved one and see their harrowing life story unfold both in new animated recreations and actual footage from the era that’s over a century old. Aurora Mardiganian’s story is a moving tale of heroism that Hollywood once thought harrowing enough to make into a truly disturbing feature film. Now it’s been resurrected, over a hundred years later, to be told again. It’s a reminder that film doesn’t just record history, it can transport us through it. 

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