Ravished Armenia

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This article is about the 1918 book Ravished Armenia as well as the 1919 film Auction of Souls based on the autobiographical book
Ravished Armenia
Ravished-Armenia-The-Story-of-Aurora-Martiganian.jpg
Cover of the book Ravished Armenia
Author Arshaluys (Aurora) Mardiganian
Country United States
Language English
Genre Autobiography
Publication date
1918
Media type Hardcover

Ravished Armenia, full title Ravished Armenia; the Story of Aurora Mardiganian, the Christian Girl, Who Survived the Great Massacres is a book written in 1918 by Arshaluys (Aurora) Mardiganian about her experiences in the Armenian Genocide.

A Hollywood film based on it was filmed in 1919 under the title Auction of Souls (which also became to be known as Ravished Armenia, based on the book it was adapted from). All known complete copies of the film have since been lost, but Mardiganian's account is still in print.[1]

Book Ravished Armenia[edit]

Ravished Armenia.jpg

The author Arshaluys (Aurora) Mardiganian was born in the city of Çemişgezek, near Harput (Kharpert), (present-day Turkish province of Elâzığ), Ottoman Empire. She was the daughter of an Armenian wealthy financier in the city. The story starts in 1915 when Arshaluys was 14 years old. She had personally witnessed the murder of her father, mother, brothers and sisters. She was taken to the harem of a number of Turkish pashas, but had remained attached to her Christian Armenian faith despite being tortured repeatedly on the hands of her captors.

She found refuge with a Canadian doctor and missionary stationed with the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM) Frederick W. MacCallum who safely returned her to Erzurum which had come under Russian control. She later moved to Tbilisi (Tiflis) in the Caucasus and through the mediation of General Andranik Ozanian and orders of the Russian military leadership in the Caucasus was sent to the United States for recovery and to bear witness to the sufferings of the Armenians in the Ottoman Empire.

Film Auction of Souls[edit]

Auction of Souls
Auction Of Souls-flyer.jpg
Promotional poster for the film
Directed by Oscar Apfel
Produced by William Nicholas Selig
Written by Harvey Gates
Aurora Mardiganian
Nora Waln
Starring Aurora Mardiganian
Irvin Cummings
Anna Q. Nilsson
Henry Morgenthau
Lillian West
Distributed by First National Pictures
Release date(s)
  • January 19, 1919 (1919-01-19)
Language English

The film Auction of Souls was based on the autobiographical book Ravished Armenia. The lead role was played by Aurora (Arshaluys) Mardiganian, the author of the autobiographical book herself.

The full length film of "Ravished Armenia" (sometimes called "Auction of Souls"). This newly restored 24 minute full segment of the movie includes music, an introduction, 125 subtitles and a slide show of black and white production stills.

The film prepared in 1918-1919 was first screened in London and in 1920 was shown twice daily for three weeks at the Royal Albert Hall to obtain support for the protection of national minorities.[2] This showing of the film, which contains depictions of the flogging of women and their nude crucifixion, was authorized with cuts to five scenes that had been agreed to by the film producers without the film's formal submission to the British Board of Film Censors, which never certified the film for general viewing in the United Kingdom.[2]

The initial New York performance of the silent film took place on February 16, 1919, in the ballroom of the Plaza Hotel, with society leaders, Mrs. Oliver Harriman and Mrs. George W. Vanderbilt, serving as co-hostesses on behalf of the American Committee for Armenian and Syrian Relief.[3]

According to a contemporary New York Times article, the first half of the film shows "Armenia as it was before Turkish and German devastation, and led up to the deportation of priests and thousands of families into the desert. One of the concluding scenes showed young Armenian women flogged for their refusal to enter Turkish harems and depicted the Turkish slave markets."[4]

Film restoration (2009)[edit]

A restored and edited 24-minute segment of the historic motion picture was released in 2009 by the Armenian Genocide Resource Center of Northern California. It is based on a rare surviving reel of film edited in Soviet Armenia. It includes a music score, an introduction, 125 subtitles, and a slideshow of several black-white production stills. The DVD is distributed by Heritage Publishing, Richmond, California, and is copyrighted by Richard Kloian.

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