COLOUR OF POMEGRANATES
DVD region 2. Second Sight.
pivotal film from one of what was then the Soviet Union’s
most intriguing directors, Sergo Paradjanov’s 1969 production
The Colour of Pomegranates is a remarkable puece
of cinema. Ostensibly based around the life of Armenian national
poet Sayat Nova, the film disregards the tedium of reality and
standard narrative structure, and instead is essentially a plotless
celebration of Armenian culture – a subversive idea in the
USSR at that time.
It’s beautifully filmed, the sharp, clear visuals being
drowned in a wealth of striking colours and surreal imagery. Paradjanov
was clearly not interested in reconstructing the blandness of
the everyday world in this film, and everything is tinged with
fantasy. Characters appear with painted faces, fish flop on the
sand, gallons of water pour from the pages of books being pressed
by huge weights… the overall effect is quite dazzling.
This is unlike any other film you’ll see, and often threatens
to overwhelm the viewer with unfamiliar visions and constructs.
It’s not so much a story as a collection of small fragments
of life, sliced up and served together in a stunning mix of art,
colour and traditional music.
Unsurprisingly, the Soviet authorities were less happy than the
critics with Paradjanov’s subversive, allegorical work,
and his career was put on officially hold for five years after
this film appeared. Some modern viewers might also find it a bit
much – if you are looking for a conventional narrative,
you’re in the wrong place. But if you love innovative film-making,
or simply want to see a movie that will float over your consciousness
rather than batter it senseless, this is highly recommended.
And if the film isn’t enough, Second Sight have issued a
lavish DVD, which includes a 76 minute ‘making of’
documentary by Daniel Bird, a commentary track and more –
unexpected but deserving treatment for such a great movie.
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