The work of painter, musician, mystic and filmmaker Sergei Paradjanov (1924-1990) constantly defies categorisation. His films are notable for their lyrical inspiration and great aesthetic beauty, but riled the Soviet authorities to such an extent that Paradjanov faced constant harrassment throughout his life. Like his earlier film, Shadows of Our Forgotten Ancestors (1965), The Colour of Pomegranates was banned…
Ostensibly a biopic of rebellious 18th century Armenian poet Sayat Nova, The Colour of Pomegranates follows the poet’s path from his childhood wool-dying days to his role as a courtier and finally his life as a monk. But Armenian director Sergei Paradjanov warns us from the start that this is no ordinary biopic: “This is not a true biography,” he has his narrator state during the opening credits.
Indeed it is not. With barely any dialogue, The Colour of Pomegranates depicts the poet’s story through a series of extraordinary lyrical tableux set to his work – read by the narrator at the start of each new chapter of Sayat Nova’s life. It’s akin to visual choreography, with esoteric, intriguing and often unforgettable imagery…
Vivid and iconographic, the images interweave landscapes, costumes and music to form a metaphorical history of the Armenian nation and a tangible expression of its spirit, free from any Soviet ideological constraints of the time of its making.