The Colour of Pomegranates

The Colour of Pomegranates

(Sergei Paradjanov, 1968)

Rating: 5/5

Reviewed by Dave Lancaster

SummaryAbsolutely stunning visuals and clashing sound come together brilliantly for the cinematic poem 'The Colour of Pomegranates'. The Blu-ray restoration is nothing short of mesmerising.


The opening titles plead with the viewer not to seek a conventional biopic of the 18th century Armenian poet Sayat Nova, but rather a visual representation of his use of poetic language. The ensuing visuals are astonishing, vivid and dreamlike.

'The Colour of Pomegranates', in this sense, reminded me of how Terrence Malick in crafting Tree of Life approached what was essentially a story about a fractured Texan family struggling through grief and transformed it from a closed narrative into a universal poem, a hymn to life.

One of the key differences between these two inverted presentations of convention narrative is that Malick has a gliding, roaming camera that moves with the life represented on screen; Sergei Paradjanov deals with static camera set ups and harsh cuts. Consider each shot a line of a poem. We are allowed chance to read between the lines while succombing to a hypnotic rhythm.

Because of this (great) stylistic choice, 'The Colour of Pomegranates' is a little more jarring than other dreamlike films (such as those by Tarkovsky and Kubrick) but nonetheless just as fascinating and vibrant on its own terms. The level of detail here is extraordinary.

At less than an hour and a half, it doesn't outstay its welcome either. Knowing that this is challenging entertainment, to prolong it could distract from its overall power. Art film fans will find many rewards that they'll want to revisit, however, and this new Blu-ray represents by far the best way of doing just that.

On Second Sight's Blu-ray is there not only a choice of two versions of the film but also a great documentary that's as long as the film itself (a probing examination called 'The World is a Window') and plenty more. However, most important of all is the treatment of the film itself and I can honestly say that I am stunned at how beautifully restored this is. You will not believe that this film is half a century old.

Be sure to pick up this spectacular package for a sublime treatment of a resonating, thought-provoking masterwork of world cinema.

Description: 

Sergei Parajanov’s celebrated masterpiece paints an astonishing portrait of the 18th century Armenian poet Sayat Nova, the ‘King of Song’. Parajanov’s aim was not a conventional biography but a cinematic expression of his work, resulting in an extraordinary visual poem. Key moments in his subject’s life are illustrated through a series of exquisitely orchestrated tableaux filled with rich colour and stunning iconography, each scene a celluloid painting alive with stylised movement.
 
One of cinema’s most revered and beautiful films, now presented in a stunning new restoration by Martin Scorsese’s The Film Foundation.
 
SPECIAL LIMITED EDITION FEATURES:
 
Disc 1
 
Martin Scorsese’s The Film Foundation restoration of the the Armenian version (‘The Parajanov Cut’)
The Russian version (‘The Yutkevich Cut’) prepared using The Film Foundation’s restored material
Optional annotated commentary on the ‘Armenian Cut’ by James Steffen, author of ‘The Cinema of Sergei Parajanov’ and advisor on the new restoration
Optional audio commentary on the ‘Yutkevich Cut’ by Levon Abrahamyan
 
Disc 2
 
New 2K restoration of Sergei Parajanov’s short film ‘Kiev Frescoes’ with optional annotated commentary by Daniel Bird
‘Poetry, Pomegranates and Parajanov: A new appreciation’ by Daniel Bird
‘Pomegranates Rediscovered’: Cecilia Cenciarelli of Bologna Cineteca on the multi-national effort to save ‘The Colour of Pomegranates’
‘Free Parajanov!’ Tony Rayns on the campaign to free Parajanov
The World is a Window: The Making of the Colour of Pomegranates’
Memories About Sayat Nova: Levon Grigoryan's 2006 documentary featuring extracts from the rushes
Parajanov: A Requiem
 
112 page limited edition book featuring Martin Scorsese introduction, archive material, new writings, costume designs and storyboards
 

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