Official | Update : 13.02.18 . 3:40 PM

CANNES CLASSICS - Illuminated cinematography by Sergei Parajanov

Sergei Parajanov © RR

Sergei Parajanov © RR

A troubled fate awaited The Colour of Pomegranates (Sayat Nova) following its 1969 release. Armenian director Sergei Parajanov fought to keep intact the essence and poetry of his unique work in the face of pressure from the authorities. The feature film is one of this year’s Cannes Classics.


Still from the film © RR

The Colour of Pomegranates, Parajanov’s eighth feature film, was shot at Haghpat monastery in Armenia in 1968. It relates the life story of the great Armenian troubadour Harutyun Saytyan who was known as Sayat Nova (King of Song). Parajanov, favouring a structuralist yet traditionalist style, used a series of tableaux vivants to depict milestones in the poet’s life from 1712 to 1795. Calling to mind medieval tales and illuminated manuscripts, his use of static shots and a warm colour palette creates a unique fresco.

It is an extraordinary work that can be compared to no other. As Parajanov commented: "It seemed to me that a static image in the cinema can have the depth of a miniature, a plastic quality and an internal dynamic." This enigmatic film of splendid plastic beauty was criticised by the authorities in Moscow for failing to champion the Trans-Caucasian cause. An edited cut released in 1971 was renamed The Colour of Pomegranates. The film’s troubled history came to an end when an Armenian version was finally released in the early 1990s.


The Film Foundation and the World Cinema Project in New York have funded a restoration of the film which has been remastered in 4K by L’immagine Ritrovata.

Hannah Benayoun



Thursday 22nd May / Buñuel Theatre / 7 pm
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Cannes Classics



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