World Cinema Series: The Colour of Pomegranates
||Reconnecting with the rich history of Armenia, Parajanov chronicles the life of the Armenian poet and troubadour Sayat-Nova, a revered figure recognised for his contribution to the cultural legacy and national identity of the country.
||10 January 2012 (Tuesday), 7.30pm
||National Museum of Singapore, Gallery Theatre
93 Stamford Road
Admission for SFS members:
If you are an SFS member (normal member or Reel Card member), you can obtain a free ticket by flashing your membership card at the SFS desk at the theatre entrance. You may ask for up to 2 more tickets for your guests if you hold a SFS Reel membership card. Non-members may sign up at the SFS desk -- we will issue membership on the spot. Free seating.
Admission for non-SFS-members:
$8 / $6.40 Concession
*Prices exclusive of SISTIC fee
World Cinema Series
A programme of the National Museum of Singapore Cinémathèque
World Cinema Series is a monthly screening of works by the boldest and most inventive auteurs across the world, from renowned classics to neglected masterpieces. Witness the wonders, possibilities, textures as well as the revelatory moments that have contributed to the rich history of cinema. Take a leap of faith and discover the art of cinema that continues to affect and inspire us on the big screen -- as it was meant to be seen -- with the World Cinema Series, shown every second Tuesday of the month at the National Museum of Singapore.
The Colour of Pomegranates
Director: Sergei Parajanov
1968 | Russia | 73min | 35mm | NC16
Consumer advice: Some Nudity
In Armenian with English subtitles
From the opening scene of pomegranate juice slowly seeping through white fabric, The Colour of Pomegranates releases a wave of affect using a variegated palette and delicate movements within a fixed compositional frame. Much like a series of Persian miniatures whose cryptic visuals are fantastically brought to life by mechanical clockwork operated by a human hand, The Colour of Pomegranates gazes back at an ancient culture with the motive to resurrect its symbolism with a grand cinematic gesture.
Reconnecting with the rich history of Armenia, Parajanov chronicles the life of the Armenian poet and troubadour Sayat-Nova, a revered figure recognised for his contribution to the cultural legacy and national identity of the country. Chapters of his life are expressed through a series of meticulously constructed tableaus that reflect the stanzas and lines of his poems and songs. The film moves through his early years as a wool-dryer, his rise as a court poet and musician for the 18th century king of Georgia, his tragic relationship with the king’s daughter which led to his expulsion, his monkhood, and his eventual martyrdom upon execution by the Persian army of Agha Mohammed Khan.
With a vigorously consistent yet playfully light theatrical formalism, the religious rituals, ethnographic artefacts and the landscape of Parajanov’s ancestral home are extracted from its distant past and placed within an uncluttered mise-en-scène that invites contemplation. This is combined with a soundtrack which strings together traditional Armenian instrumental music through the dissonant technological manipulations of musique concrète which allow single notes, the material sounds of rituals and even silence to reverberate. Through sight and sound, The Colour of Pomegranates projects a crystalline vision of the past that cuts through its esoteric barriers, allowing its meanings to breathe in a meditative present that could only signal its passage into the future.
Cultural production was heavily policed in 1960s Soviet Russia and the over-flowing aestheticism of The Colour of Pomegranates (which seems indifferent to ‘present’ social concerns) was deemed as subversive by the authorities. Parajanov was persecuted for creating a work that departed from the officially sanctioned mode of social-realist cinematic expression. In his persistence to complete the film despite its repercussions, Parajanov shares a similar destiny with Sayat Nova himself – that of the artist who takes on the burdened yet joyful task of laying testament to the deeply rooted religious and cultural sentiments of a heritage that has been displaced.
About the director, Sergei Parajanov
Upon graduating from the prestigious Gerasimov Institute of Cinematography in Moscow, Parajanov made a series of state-sanctioned social-realist films. His friendship with Tarkovsky inspired his subsequent phase of filmmaking. With his masterpieces Shadows of Our Forgotten Ancestors (1964) and The Colour of Pomegranates (1968), Paradjanov found his calling to revive his Armenian ancestral history through a colourful compositional style that prioritises visual and musical effect over narrative. While these films established him as an auteur praised by his European counterparts such as Godard and Fellini, his rejection of the rigid cultural ideology of Soviet Russia resulted in a series of state-initiated trumped up charges which led to his being imprisoned for four years. Parajanov made two other features films The Legend of Suram Fortress (1984) and Ashik Kerid (1988), and explored other forms of expression such as painting and collages before passing away in Armenia in 1990.
Note: Unless otherwise indicated, all films screened by Singapore Film Society have been passed clean by the censorship board.