The Colour of Pomegranates – Sayat-Nova (1968)

Country: Armenia (at that time the Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic)

There are some films that choose not to tell stories, but choose instead to show slices of art. The Colour of Pomegranates, directed by the acclaimed Armenian director Sergei Parajanov, is exactly that kind of film. If you’re looking for a plot line, you’ve chosen the wrong film. But if you go with an open mind to enjoy art for its own sake, The Colour of Pomegranates is one movie you should not miss.

You will perhaps never see such stunning and sometimes surreal visuals on screen. And though the film is dated now, the composition of frames, the use of colour, and the stark imagery is still unforgettable.

The film is based on the poems of a famous Armenian bard – Sayat Nova. Though the film is not a biography of the poet’s life (as it clearly mentions in the opening credits), it goes through his life using the imagery in his poems.

For non-Armenians, this film is sure to be confusing. It may also be confusing for Armenians. The best way to go about watching this film is knowing that the film is about the life of the poet and it does not attempt to be biographical. Instead it is made to resemble Armenian illuminated miniatures and the imagery is supposed to make the most impact.

This is not a high budget film and it is shot primarily in Armenian monasteries. The colours are stark and symbolic, and the music by Tigran Mansuryan is definitely surreal and haunting.

If you’re looking for something experimental, The Colour of Pomegranates is the right film to pick. It may not leave you with the satisfaction of having watched a film with a coherent plot line, but its visuals will stay in your mind long after you have watched the film.

Ever heard of the term ‘visual poetry’? This is it.

FINAL VERDICT: Watch it if you like experimental cinema or want to watch l’art pour l’art.

Avoid it if you get bored easily. Also avoid it if you do not like to watch films without a storyline.


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