Movie of the Week: The Color of Pomegranates

Few other works in the artistic world exemplifies the statement that “art flourishes under censorship”. Sergei Parajanov’s work created behind the Iron Curtain is no less than an audio-visual onslaught of poetic metaphor and vision.

The Color of Pomegranates - Sayat Nova

The Color of Pomegranates - Sayat Nova

Created in 1968, the film is an exploration of Parajanov’s life without the use of dialogue. The entire story is narrated in imagery and symbolism alone. It would probably take a decade or more to unravel all of the meaning. The film was suppressed in the former Soviet Union and was not widely available outside film festivals in the West.

It stars Sofiko Chiaureli in no less than six roles including that of the male poet and main character Sayat Nova, the King of Song.

Sadly, Parajanov didn’t live long enough to see his work flourish. He passed away in 1990 after a battle with lung cancer. Arguably caused by his years of incarceration in a labor camp as punishment for expressing his views.

The film had such a strong impact on the musical group Juno Ractor (known for their contributions to the Matrix trilogy soundtrack), that they fashioned a music video composed entirely of imagery from the movie.

Not quite the original film, but you get the idea of what you would be missing if you don’t watch it.

2 thoughts on “Movie of the Week: The Color of Pomegranates

  1. Cool. I’d never heard of this film, and will search it out. It must be incredibly rich with visuals, I think it’s a real achievement that a movie without dialogue could get suppressed. The power of the image.

    • Very true. Many films have been banned by oppressive governments for one reason or another, but very few indeed have achieved it with symbolism alone.

      I saw this on VHS a while ago (poor quality after repeated playing, I’m afraid). I’ll be indulging on a DVD copy soon.

      Even after all these years, people are still talking about it and even became incorporated into electronic music. You won’t be disappointed.

      It’s really sad that Parajanov wasn’t alive to see how much impact it had.

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