The Color of Pomegranates (3/21)

One of cinema’s most sumptuous 20th-century artists, Sergei Parajanov was only allowed by the Soviets to make a small handful of films before his death in 1990 — thankfully, his most visually stunning work has been newly restored by the World Cinema Project and the Film Foundation! 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 his 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 lilted along by impossibly rich detail crammed into every frame, to-die-for wardrobes, and the alluring portrayal of six different roles (of both genders) by the androgynous Sofiko Chiaureli. 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.