Monday, 31 December 2012

The Color of Pomegranates [1968]

There are experimental arthouse films, and there are experimental arthouse films without the former’s seamless quality. The likes of Chris Marker’s La Jetee, Vera Chytilova’s Daisies, or more recently Leos Carax’s Holy Motors are glowing examples of the former. Sergei Parajanov’s much acclaimed work The Color of Pomegranates, unfortunately, clearly fall in the latter category. Purportedly a biopic on the revered Armenian poet and musician Sayat-Nova, this was a highly whimsical and surreal take on what his life and his ideas were representative of. Parajanov presented the poet’s tortured and troubled conscience in the form of a series of disjointed tableaus, aimed at capturing his inner self and his religious influences. The film, consequently, is filled with Armenian imageries and religious icons to that effect, and is bereft of any conventional narrative structure. Parajanov’s creative choices and the film’s experimental nature, unfortunately, were too deliberately brazen for its good – so much as to make the works of Bunuel, Fellini, Tarkovsky, Godard et al seem mainstream in comparison. The vibrant colour schema was eminently noteworthy, but its visual design, too, was obsessively idiosyncratic. Further, not only was the film so heavily laden with symbolisms as to make it a burdensome exercise for the viewers to keep a track of, some of them were also too damn cryptic for a non-Armenian person. As for the symbols which were decipherable – and there was no dearth of them – they singularly lacked of subtlety. I understand that this film has been celebrated by various quarters, but simply failed to strike a chord with me – intellectually or otherwise. Interestingly, Sofiko Chiaureli, the Georgian actress and Parajanov’s muse, played six different characters in the film.

Director: Sergio Parajanov
Genre: Avant-Garde/Experimental Film/Surrealist Film/Biopic
Language: Armenian
Country: Armenia (erstwhile Soviet Union)

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