The Color of Pomegranates  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

The Color of Pomegranates (originally released in the Armenian SSR as Sayat Nova) is a 1968 art film by the Soviet-Armenian director Sergei Parajanov, considered a masterpiece by Federico Fellini, Jean-Luc Godard and Michelangelo Antonioni. It was censored and banned in the Soviet Union but made the top 10 list in Cahier Du Cinema in 1982 and Top 100 in Time Out. It is not a biography of Sayat-Nova, but a series of tableaux vivants of Armenian costume, embroidery and religious rituals depicting scenes and verses from the poet's life.



Sergei Parajanov's "Color of the Pomegranate", a biography of the Armenian ashug Sayat Nova (King of Song), reveals the poet's life more through his poetry than a conventional narration of important events in Sayat Nova's life. The movie shows the poet growing up, discovering the female forms, falling in love, entering a monastery and dying. But these incidents are depicted in the context of what are images from Sergei Parajanov's imagination and Sayat Nova's poems, poems that are seen and rarely heard. Sofiko Chiaureli plays 6 roles, both male and female, and Sergei Parajanov, works on virtually every aspect of this film, void of any dialog or camera movement.

His inspiration, he said, was "the Armenian illuminated miniatures. I wanted to create that inner dynamic that comes from inside the picture, the forms and the dramaturgy of colour."

"It wasn't the established canons of the fate of the poet-conflict with the tsar, conflict at court, the banishing of the poet from the palace, worldly life, the monastery-these were not the point of my scenario, but the colors, the accessories, the details of daily life that accompanied the poetry [...] the art in life [...] The world that accompanied the poet"

Paradjanov once made a speech in Minsk in which he asserted that the Armenian public very likely did not understand Sayat Nova, but then said that people "are going to this picture as to a holiday" (Paradjanov, "Vystuplenie" 610), turning his film itself into a folklore ritual.



Aside from the movie's technical achievements, it deals with themes such as:

  • A poet's soul and state of mind. This movie speaks in the language of the soul.
  • the destiny of the 'selfless heart' man (genius or not) and the solitude of exceptional human beings.
  • the superficiality of the world (mostly in the Tbilisi bathhouse sequence: "We heard that a troubadour had come to the town. We went to see him, but he was no troubadour, but a cobbler!")
  • the Armenian culture which accompanied the poet: clothes, music, colors, art in life, centuries-old monasteries, religion and customs in life of people.
  • celebration of a country's traditions and folklore.
  • the child's world, its beauty, innocence, purity and freedom.
  • a poet dies but his muse is immortal (from the poetry of Sayat Nova himself)


  • This is film is non-narrative( the story is carried visually or even aurally)
  • Extremely beautiful artistic images. The movie is actually a series of tableaux vivants, Parajanov preferred cutting to moving the camera.
  • Gorgeous soundtrack which sometimes underlines and more often is a real part of the story.
  • The images remain imposed in the unconscious, making the film seem like a dreamlike experience. In this regard, much of the meaning of the film cannot be grasped intellectually, Parajanov sensing what a powerful medium film can be. Stanley Kubrick once even stated about his own, also 1968-film, 2001: A Space Odyssey: "Sometimes the truth of a thing is not so much in the think of it, but in the feel of it.”
  • The film relies very little on a storyline, plot, drama or acting. The feel of a visionary true author present in almost every scene.
  • Its place in cinema history according to filmmaker Mikhail Vartanov: " Probably, besides the film language suggested by Griffith and Eisenstein, the world cinema has not discovered anything revolutionarily new until the 'Color of Pomegranate,' not counting the generally unaccepted language of the 'Andalusian Dog' by Buñuel."

Quotes from the film (mostly, taken from Sayat Nova's poetry)

  • "I am the man whose life and soul are torture."
  • "From the colors and aromas of this world, my childhood made a poet's lyre and offered it to me."
  • "We were searching for ourselves in each other."
  • "Where can I find a selfless love?"


Clips from the movie are used in the music video for the song God is God, performed by the techno group Juno Reactor.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "The Color of Pomegranates" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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