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The Color of Pomegranates [1969] is a surrealist feature directed by Sergei Parajanov. The film depicts the life of the Armenian poet Sayat-Nova.

Cultural revival! The director attempted to revive the essence of the Armenian culture which was nearly lost amidst the pandemonium of the Ottoman massacre. The director captures the quintessential culture of his people through the wardrobes and sitar music that would have been deemed ceremonial for another time and civilization, but for the Armenians, it was a way of life. The costume and set design are the highlights of this feature and perhaps the only certainty, with the story reduced to a set of abstract images as the film goes on.

Non-linear plot. The only narrative which the film even faintly attempts to follow was that of the poet’s childhood, youth, old-age and death. The film does not try to entertain the viewers with a plot; yet it is impossible not to appreciate the grandeur of the cinematography. The brand of Parajanov’s surrealism contains a mix of absurdity coupled with layers of symbolism, which needs repeated viewings to be deciphered.

Absurdity. The film is not for the average Joe. With its non-linear plot and its inability to entertain the audience through any sort of action, it was not made to please the crowd in general, but as a tribute, by the director, to the richness of the Armenian culture with the poet Sayat-Nova as the poster-boy. The film will not offer any explanations for the amount of time the camera devotes to the idyllic landscape and will assume that the audience will bask in the grandiose of the Armenian fields.

Survival. The film was primarily an attempt to revive the culture of Armenia in the memory of film-goers. But owing to its limited distribution and the subsequent ban on export outside the Soviet Union, the film was not the highlight of cinema-houses in its time. Although, its reputation has only grown due to the long overdrawn shots of the countryside and the breathtaking cinematography on display. The title is a testament to the director’s view that the Armenian culture will survive and would not be erased or lost in time, similar to the juice of a pomegranate that is resolute in clinging onto the piece of cloth that it touches, leaving its crimson color as a perpetual mark to signify its tenacious nature.

Absurd, experimental, yet grandiose in all its entirety.
The Color of Pomegranates
4.0Overall Score
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