Sayat Nova Screen 7 articles

Sayat Nova

1968

Sayat Nova Poster
  • It achieves a sort of visionary para-surrealism through the most economical means of gesture, props, and texture. Only 75 minutes, it's a series of linked tableaux—strange marvels in stone churches, punctuated by primitive bits of camera magic. Paradjanov's compositions are astonishing, and no one has ever made the olive-and-orange tones of Soviet color s tock look better. A sublime and heartbreaking film, Sayat Nova alone could justify the entire Film Festival.

  • It may seem strange to claim that one can love, and be utterly entranced by, a film that one hardly understands. But The Colour of Pomegranates is, at least for those viewers unversed in its subject matter, just such an experience. It also serves as an astonishing introduction to one of the cinema's very greatest masters, Sergei Paradjanov.

  • This superior 1969 version of the film . . . shouldn't be regarded as definitive (some of the material from the Yutkevich cut is missing), but it's certainly the finest we have and may ever have. . . . In both versions the striking use of tableaulike frames recalls the shallow space of movies made roughly a century ago, while the gorgeous uses of color and the wild poetic conceits seem to derive from some utopian cinema of the future, at once “difficult” and immediate, cryptic and ravishing.

  • Sergei Paradjanov is fundamentally an artist, experimenting with film as a moving canvas. In contrast to the minimalist, unembellished films of neorealism and cinema verite, The film reflects Paradjanov’s interpretive, highly idiosyncratic view of cinema as a medium of high art where the sole reality lies in conveying emotional truth. Stripped of plot and character dialogue, what remains is an abstruse, fragmented visual narrative.

  • Interestingly, Paradjanov criticised Fellini for driving ever deeper into mystification. This is a curious stance because mystification seems an objective for Paradjanov, and the men used not-dissimilar techniques. But it becomes apparent that such an affection for the corporeal, the tangible, an attempt to suggest through texture alone the solidity of things rather than mere dreaminess through surrealism, is altogether exceptional.

  • ...The still, frontal camera contemplates some of the strangest and most sublime of all cinematic textures: ancient manuscripts flipping in the wind, ornate tapestries, crumbling stone prosceniums, gauzy veils and cherubs with taped-on wings, ad infinitum, ad gloriam. The imagistic piling-up of folklore, documentary and reverie is otherworldly, its hyper-concentrated aesthetic joy as immediate as its narrative meaning is subterranean.

  • In ‘68 the rulebook was still burning and a new language was being written on every movie screen. “Sayat Nova” found a bold new way to tell a man’s story, by bouncing his words off of perfectly assembled images like sonar. Human beings, fabric, paint, food, animals and kinetic violence are placed together in sensual decoupage, while the soundtrack seems to sing to itself.

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