Saturday, October 31, 2009
Sergei Parajanov, or in his native Armenian language Sargis Hovsepi Parajanyan (Սարգիս Հովսեփի Փարաջանյան) was one of the best known directors of Soviet films. Born in Tbilisi, (then the S.S.R. of) Georgia, to an Armenian family, his work reflected the ethnic diversity of the Caucusus where he was raised.
His first major work was Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors (1964), which earned him an international reputation for its rich use of costume and color, and its whimsical portrayal of rural life. Possibly his greatest work, The Color of Pomegranates (1969), described the life of the Armenian poet Sayat Nova. The film angered the Soviet authorities, who claimed that it evoked nationalist sentiment.
Claiming that Paradjanov promoted homosexuality, the government arrested him in 1973 and sentenced him to five years in a labor camp. A large number of prominent artists, writers and filmmakers protested his sentence, but Paradjanov was only released four years later, in large part due to the efforts of the French surrealist Louis Aragon. He was banned for making films for many years afterwards, when he was living in Tbilisi, but he was allowed to make The Legend of Suram Fortress (1984), which captured much of the color of his earlier work.
He managed to direct three more films before he died of cancer in Yerevan, Armenia, in 1990. A house was built for him in Yerevan which was completed shortly after his death, but which now houses all his belongings and has been turned into the Parajanov Museum.
I can't think of an artist more diverse than Parajanov, being a great admirer of his paintings, collages and films.
Here is the master pictured together with Mikhail Vartanov.