Short films by Sergei Parajanov


Hakob Hovnatanyan (1967).

I’ve been enthusing for years about the unique films of Sergei Parajanov (1924–1990), usually in vain since his work hasn’t always been easy to see and is (for now) poorly served by DVD. His two masterworks, Shadows of Our Forgotten Ancestors (1964) and The Colour of Pomegranates (1968), have both been issued on disc but in shoddy versions with prints that are scratched and desaturated, and the latter suffers from poor subtitling. Parajanov’s films make bold use of colour and a washed-out print does him no favours at all. In an ideal world the BFI or Criterion would give these films the attention they deserve.

Grumbles aside, Ubuweb comes up trumps again by posting three of Parajanov’s shorter works, none of which I’d seen before. These give some idea of his distinctive tableaux style, and his recurrent preoccupation with decorative details and close views of objects.

Previously on { feuilleton }
The Disasters of War

2 thoughts on “Short films by Sergei Parajanov”

  1. I saw both Pomegranate and Ancestors recently, and was so amazed that I didnt notice they were inadequate. And coincidentally, his friendship with Tarkovsky led me to re-discover “Ivan’s Childhood”, an essential piece in my consciousness of Russia. Seems to me the impulse to make high-quality versions ought to come from within the old Russian Empire; it is part of their artistic heritage.

  2. Hi Jeff. The DVDs are certainly worth watching if you haven’t seen the films before. But I also have copies taped from TV screenings and the difference is very noticeable, especially on Colours. I’ve got all the Tarkovsky films on DVD also and they could have been done better, especially Nostalgia which for the first few reels is blighted by terrible crackling noise. It’s dismaying to have no end of Hollywood junk available in pristine digital versions yet not be able to see decent transfers of masterpieces such as these.

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