Monday, February 27, 2012

Paradjanov:A Requiem (2004)

As you know my interest in Russian cinema goes in all different directions and I picked up one of Kino videos two DVDs of the films of Sergei Paradjanov, The Color of Pomegranates/Paradjanov: A Requiem.

I had seen the directors Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors a film made in a Ukrainian dialect and which was about god and people in very un-Soviet ways. I had to watch it as part of a course on Russian history since it was deemed to be a good representation of what life was like "back then". The film eventually got Paradjanov pitched into jail for among other things "surrealism". Thanks to people like John Updike he got out of prison and went back to making films.

Strange films.

His films after Shadows seem more works of art then straight narrative. Think something like Matthew Barney's Cremaster, but with no bs behind it, Paradjanov believed in what he was doing.

Requiem which is essentially a one hour interview with the director in a hotel room during the Berlin Film Festival in 1998. I wanted to get a background on the man and his films and hoped that the movie would prepare me for the feature he directed that shares the disc.

Having watched it I know a little more than I did before however I did gain a respect and an intense like for the man. He is a genuine artist who wants to make his films his way. He does it for the art. The clips from his films make we wary of his films post Shadows. They are formal and stylized and amateurishly made. There is a genuine passion, but considering this was a man struggling to get anything made its okay.

The trouble is that the clips included seem almost randomly selected and there is no feeling as to why they were chosen or how they relate to what he's talking about. What he talks about is also a problem in that he just talks and bounces all over the place. It is interesting but except for two very brief narrated bits running less than a minute or two there is no background, its simply Paradjanov being Paradjanov, which isn't bad, its just not great.

(One piece I read on Paradjanov said that there were six films made on him right after he died in 1990, this being one of them. The one that everyone seems to agree is the best one to see, and seemingly one of the great documentaries is one subtitled The Last Spring, or some such title. Unfortunately its not currently available anywhere) I doubt that I will search out anything else he's done once I watch Pomegranates, the second film on the disc, but at least I will have come in contact with a genuine character and someone who's views and life will travel on somewhere in my psyche.

Should you see it? If its free, yes, or if you are interested in Russian cinema or interesting, non-run of the mill stuff see it... but don't search it out unless you have a woolly for the films of this director

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