One of the greatest masterpieces of the 20th century, Sergei Parajanov's "Color of the Pomegranate," a biography of the Armenian troubadour Sayat Nova (King of Song) reveals the poet's life more through his poetry than a conventional narration of important events in Sayat Nova's life. We see the poet grow up, fall in love, enter a monastery and die, but these incidents are depicted in the context of what are images from Sergei Parajanov's imagination and Sayat Nova's poems, poems that are seen and rarely heard. Sofiko Chiaureli plays 6 roles, both male and female, and Sergei Parajanov writes, directs, edits, choreographs, works on costumes, design and decor and virtually every aspect of this revolutionary work.Written by
Sergei Parajanov's 1968 masterpiece "Sayat Nova" was censored, re-cut, renamed (The Color of Pomegranates) and banned; its 1969 behind-the-scenes documentary (Paradjanov: The Color of Armenian Land (1969)) was banned and the footage reappeared 20 years later in Mikhail Vartanov's influential documentary Parajanov: The Last Spring (1992), which demistifies the unique film language of "Sayat Nova." Parajanov's "Sayat Nova" appeared on the Top 10 and Top 100 lists in Cahiers du Cinema, Sight and Sound, Movieline and Time Out. Mikhail Vartanov famously wrote: "Probably, besides the film language suggested by Griffith and Eisenstein, the world cinema has not discovered anything revolutionary new until 'The Color of Pomegranates' not counting the generally unaccepted language of the 'Andalusian Dog' by Bunuel." Michelangelo Antonioni later added that the film "strikes with its perfection of beauty." See more »
For those who need an American equivalent to compare to, it is similar to the work of Brakhage or Anger, the American experimental filmmakers.
It is not Hollywood in that the movie does not rely on a plot, although there is a semblance of one present in this particular movie. The life and poetry of Sayat Nova, the great Medieval Armenian Troubadour, albeit abstractly, is the basis for all the images presented. It is also not Hollywood in that there is no dialog. The interest rests in the unforgettable and arresting images, lovingly created and edited together in the manner of Eisenstein. So in this regard it has more in common with silent film.
Yes, this is an abstract film. Yes, it is pretentious. But what is wrong with that? Prtensious is, after all, what most call something that they have a hard time understanding. Make no mistake, this is an art film to the extreme. A film whose primary concern is not to entertain, but rather to express Parajanov's personal view of Sayat Nova,and more importantly, to preserve to film the medieval Armenian culture which was almost completely eradicated in the Armenian Massacre of 1915 at the hands of the Turkish Empire. This film is historically important for this reason alone. The fact that Parajanov was imprisoned by the Russian Government for not conforming to the strict Social Realist code of film underscores this point. This film was a slap in the face to Communist Russia which wanted to erase the old traditions.
There is nothing much you have to get to enjoy this film, except to marvel at images inspired by an ancient little known culture. There is a lot of beauty in these images which probably seem so foreign and alien to Westerners. That is the point. That is the effect that I believe Parajanov is after. Those that don't get it either lack patience and subtlety, or are under the mistaken assumption that good films must follow the American Hollywood script model. The latter would be making the same mistake as the Russians who put Parajanov in the Gulag. No one who as seen even a bit of this film, could deny that it is unforgettable. And that is what to me makes a good film.
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