Some films are so highly visual that each frame resembles an artistic photo. Sergi Parajanov’s ‘The Color of Pomegranates’ on the other hand, resembles paintings from centuries past (albeit with a Bunuel-esque twist). An artistic take on the life of Armenian poet Sayat Nova, it depicts Nova’s humble beginnings as wool dying child laborer to his days as a provocative courtier, then his later years as a monk. Dialogue was kept to a minimum, so traditional music and costumes set much of the mood. Needless to say, The Color of Pomegranates is a masterpiece unto itself. And like most masterpieces, it was initially suppressed in it’s native country.
Rich in religious iconography, this Georgian film went against the grain of Socialist Realism (read: propaganda), unlike it’s contemporaries in the USSR. It proved to be influential though, so by 1973 the authorities persecuted Parajanov. The last two decades of his life were spent in and out of prison, despite international outcry from the likes of Federico Fellini, Yves Saint Laurent, Michelangelo Antonioni and Jean-Luc Godard. Thankfully Parajanov continued to create while incarcerated; 1,000+ drawings, collages, and miniature dolls, most of which exist to this day. Parajanov came to a tragic end; his health was compromised in forced labor camps, and by 1990 cancer claimed his life. Shortly after, the USSR too faced it’s bitter end. And thanks to this, Parajanov’s films were once again allowed to exhibit at film festivals worldwide.
Today, much of his work and personal belongings are permanently housed in the Parajanov Museum of Yerevan, Armenia. His work continues to gain in popularity, namely among fans of other controversial directors such as Pier Pasolini and Alejandro Jodorowsky. In the spirit of artistic freedom I highly encourage viewing The Color of Pomegranates. Once you’ve seen it you’ll never forget it, and will hopefully draw inspiration from it… as well as from the courageous spirit of Sergi Parajanov himself.