Tuesday, 10 January 2012
#20 Armenia — The Colour of Pomegranates (1968)
Why I chose this: I'm not familiar with any other Armenian works than those of Sergei Parajanov. I'm still to see his other films, but I felt that The Colour of Pomegranates needed to be rewatched, so it seemed like a good choice for this review.
The Colour of Pomegranates is not a conventional biopic. Rather than being a simple dramatisation of key points in the subject's life (e.g. Senna, Ray), it is a visual representation of their work interspersed with poeticised versions of their life, all played out in stunning tableau vivant. The subject in this case is the Armenian poet and bard Sayat Nova (King of Songs).
Unless you've seen another Parajanov film, I can guarantee you've never seen anything like this. Each shot is a work of beautifully surreal art. The image composition is bizarre but striking. Look at the picture at the top of the page. Almost every frame has the same quality as that.
The excellent soundtrack consists of Armenian folk music of many varieties. Every piece is very musically interesting and complements the exotic images perfectly.
The film is not just pretty pictures, there is an incredible amount of symbolism ingrained into the images. Some can be interpreted literally, while some require more thought. No matter how deep into the complex metaphors one wishes to delve, it is impossible to not find any food for thought, which sets it apart from many other visually driven films (such as Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives in the previous review). Some may find some of the symbols too overt, and I may have agreed with them if this were a standard narrative film. In this case, the symbolism is the narrative, so the blatant nature of some metaphors is entirely necessary.
Perhaps the only gripe I have with the film is that it is too short. I own the fantastic Second Run transfer, which has a running time of 70 minutes; I could watch this for hours! I have managed to acquire the rushes of the film, which comes to four hours long, but has no sound. I'll get round to watching this despite this at some point (if anyone wants to know where they can get this, leave a comment).
The Colour of Pomegranates is one of the most dizzyingly original films ever produced. It's beauty and poetic nature are matched by very few and grows with multiple viewings. Anyone who appreciates cinema as art simply must see this film as it stands as one of the highest points that film has ever reached.