The Colour of Pomegranates Limited Edition Blu Ray Review

Sergei Parajanov is a giant among film makers. You no doubt have heard his name and may have even heard of some of his films. Spoken often as if they were reverential artefacts or religious pieces, its hard not to take this into a viewing. He made some 17 films, has his own museum and has 2 films that are considered significant even now. One is Shadows of Our Forgotten Ancestors.  The other film is The Colour of Pomegranates and is considered his undisputed masterpiece. The life of Armenian poet Ashug Sayat-Nova (this was the original title, that translated as King of Song) captured in dreamlike visuals that reflect the poetry of his life. From tableux to tableux, slipping into magical realms of the imagination of a person with a craft with words and with thoughts. Split into 8 sections: Childhood, Youth, Prince’s Court, The Monastery, The Dream, Old Age, The Angel of Death and Death.

The Colour of Pomegranates and Shadows of Our Forgotten Ancestors both share a visual harmony that is distinctive. They also share a magic reality. However The Colour of Pomegranates is more charged. It is very political. Standing out at a time when Communist Soviet union saw itself as a whole. Here we had a Georgian film maker, making a film about an Armenian poet that is interspersed with religious images, shocks of colour, shifts of views that diverge into space and time. This all calculated this equates to images that can be epi-interpreted. The viewer is reading the piece with little direction and its is often a mash of images that are distinct and poetic. Its an experience to behold and one I am brand new to, having never seen it before. The transfer should be an exalted piece. It is a glowing achievement in the process. Both cuts are worth exploring. The Parajanov Cut is longer and adds textures of magic realism and cosmic grace. The Yutkevich Cut is still powerful but loses 9 odd minutes. James Steffen commentary keeps a distance from the magic. Clearing the narrative to move it from become a barrier. This might not work always but is a joy to listen to. The second disc is a different experience. It has to be commended for the quality of the whole. Take my personal 3 highlights, number 3 Daniel Birds ‘Poetry, Pomegranates and Parajanov: A new appreciation’. Bird digs into the work and sometimes unearths a real sense of what is revealed on screen. Number 2 Martin Scorsese introduction in the booklet is pretty amazing. We know that Scorsese loves cinema but he always gives us that almost magnetic adoration for film. His world cinema project did much of the work and standing ovation to them. Number 1 is ‘Free Parajanov!’. I can only say watch it. Really and truly watch it. Its that good…

SPECIAL LIMITED EDITION FEATURES:

Disc 1

  • Martin Scorsese’s The Film Foundation restoration of the the Armenian version (‘The Parajanov Cut’)
  • The Russian version (‘The Yutkevich Cut’) prepared using The Film Foundation’s restored material
  • Optional annotated commentary on the ‘Armenian Cut’ by James Steffen, author of ‘The Cinema of Sergei Parajanov’ and advisor on the new restoration
  • Optional audio commentary on the ‘Yutkevich Cut’ by Levon Abrahamyan

Disc 2

  • New 2K restoration of Sergei Parajanov’s short film ‘Kiev Frescoes’ with optional annotated commentary by Daniel Bird
  • ‘Poetry, Pomegranates and Parajanov: A new appreciation’ by Daniel Bird
  • ‘Pomegranates Rediscovered’: Cecilia Cenciarelli of Bologna Cineteca on the multi-national effort to save ‘The Colour of Pomegranates’
  • ‘Free Parajanov!’ Tony Rayns on the campaign to free Parajanov
  • The World is a Window: The Making of the Colour of Pomegranates’
  • Memories About Sayat Nova: Levon Grigoryan’s 2006 documentary featuring extracts from the rushes
  • Parajanov: A Requiem
  • 112 page limited edition book featuring Martin Scorsese introduction, archive material, new writings, costume designs and storyboards

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Simon Kennedy

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