The Color of Pomegranates

Restored in 2014 by The Film Foundation’s World Cinema Project at Cineteca di Bologna/L’Immagine Ritrovata in association with the National Film Centre of Armenia and Gosfilmofond of Russia. Restoration funding provided by the Material World Charitable Foundation and The Film Foundation.

As one of cinema’s most sumptuous 20th-century artists, Sergei Parajanov was only able to make a handful of films before his death in 1990, leaving behind a filmography characterized by controversy under Soviet rule. A mad feast-for-the-eyes bio-poem, The Color of Pomegranates was written, directed, choreographed and costumed by Parajanov to be a living embodiment of ancient “illuminated texts,” while bringing to light the fertility and vitality of Armenian culture. In a series of ever-shifting, eye-popping tableaux, there is little dialogue and less camera movement as Parajanov traces the life of an Armenian poet, from birth to death by shower of live chickens — but the audience is carried along by the impossibly rich detail crammed into every frame, to-die-for wardrobes, and the androgynous Sofiko Chiaureli’s adept performance in six different roles. Parajanov spent five years exiled in a prison camp for the “transgression” of creating this wildly beautiful work resplendent with magic and far-ahead-of-its-time aesthetic daring.

Dir. Sergei Parajanov, 1969, DCP, 79 min.