Sayat Nova (1968) (aka The Colour of Pomegranate)
Sergei Paradjanov

“I am the man whose life and soul are torture”


Sayat Nova

If a list of biggest innovations in cinema is made, the Russian directors would arguably occupy the top few slots. Their gift to cinema has been the prime mover for so many other breakthroughs across the world of cinema. And Sergei Paradjanov was one such filmmaker who had the special ability to have a different perspective of cinema, much different from the others. And the most fantastic of all his films, The Colour of Pomegranate (1968) clearly tells why.

Unquestionably arthouse film consists of a series of tableaux-like compositions presented in a deliberately impassive manner by the leading lady who seems to take up various roles, both male and female, as the lifetime progresses. Though seemingly “of-the-moment” and radical, The Colour of Pomegranate does present a narrative if one could resort to the conventional terminology. Strung with the poems of Armenian poet Sayat Nova, the film presents his childhood, coming of age, adulthood, his unsuccessful love life, priesthood and eventual death using the most striking images and symbols one has ever assembled on screen. Decidedly not for all tastes, the images that Paradjanov conjures up are so riveting that it is impossible for one not to make a visceral connection with them that lasts a lifetime. Paradjanov’s use of reddish brown tinge throughout the film, as striking as his tragic classic The Shadows of Our Forgotten Ancestors (1964), provides it the painting-like quality that visibly enhances the “two-dimensionality” of the visuals.

There is virtually no camera movement and the stage-like setting provides the apt platform for the deliberate execution to explore the medium and take it to places it has never been before. The images of Sayat Nova’s death, his life at the monastery, the still life and his view of the world of the child are so strikingly assembled that it transcends the film’s bizarre nature and eliminates any alienation that the viewer may feel. How much one would appreciate and relate to the film remains a big question of subjectivity. But what is sure is that no matter what you feel about the film, you know that this is art, Must see it if one wants to explore the boundaries of filmmaking.

WordPress has introduced this new Poll feature. Thought I will try it out…