Released in 1969, The Color of Pomegranates by Armenian film director Sergei Parajanov is one of the best masterpieces of world cinema. With this film Parajanov has revolutionized the world of cinema. Executed with grace, gravity and a breathtaking modesty of means, The Color of Pomegranates movie is one of a kind. Its symbolism, beauty and deep mystery have been admired for centuries.
The Color of Pomegranates presents the beauty of Armenian culture through the story of the troubadour Sayat Nova (King of Song), showing his intellectual, artistic, and spiritual growth through iconographic compositions. The movie reveals the poet's life visually and poetically rather than literally. We see Sayat Nova’s life in images from Sergei Paradjanov’s imagination. The film is presented with little dialogue, the abstract images give every viewer the opportunity to make their own perception of the mysterious scenes. There is no camera movement in this revolutionary work. Sergei Parajanov not only wrote, directed and worked on costumes but also worked on every aspect of this movie.
Mikhail Vartanov, a cinematographer who made documentary films about Parajanov, told that besides the cinematic language, world cinema hasn’t seen anything revolutionary new until Parajanov’s movie.
The film received the right to be shown only 4 years later, in 1973. Parajanov was forced to edit the film. He refused. You refuse, someone else will do it, they said. His films in general were subject to Soviet censorship. The Color of Pomegranates was described as a strange and dangerous movie.
In Western Europe the film appeared only after the release of Parajanov from prison and in a bootlegged version. French critic Serge Daney stated that the already-old film by Parajanov is, quite simply, unlike anything known before. He told that the movie is in a previously unknown genre of cinema: filmed hagiography.
Major directors from all over the world, fashion designers, remarkable scientists and musicians like Madonna and Lady Gaga have all created work influenced by this genius. In 2020 Lady Gaga released a video where there are many similarities of famous director Sergey Parajanov's film "The Color of Pomegranates".
The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) labelled Parajanov a subversive, fearing that his films would embolden independence movements. The USSR arrested Parajanov in 1973.
Even after his final release from prison (he was arrested 3 times) he was a persona non grata in Soviet cinema. His health weakened a lot because of four years in labour camps and nine months in prison.
Parajanov then attempted to complete his final project. He died of lung cancer in Yerevan, in 1990, when he was only 66, leaving his final work, The Confession, unfinished. That was the time when, after about 2 decades of suppression, his films were being featured at foreign film festivals.
An amazing collection of items, paintings, graphic works and famous hats is kept in Parajanov House-Museum in Yerevan.
His outstanding movie, one of the best films ever made in world cinema as film critics and film historians describe, becomes even more attractive with years and its mystery remains deep and unsolved.