The Colour of Pomegranates

The Colour of Pomegranates (Sergei Paradjanov, 1969) aka Sayat-Nova

A super-stylized, surreal biography of Armenian troubadour Sayat Nova, whose life is depicted through non-narrative amalgamations of poetic images.

Sofiko Chiaureli as Sayat Nova

It’s difficult to write about The Colour of Pomegranates [Sayat-Nova] (Sergei Paradjanov, 1969) because it’s not like any other film. Meditating on this, I realised the importance of analogy in our thought and speech. Colloquially, one may ask someone who’s seen a film: 'What’s it like?' (meaning, rather, 'Is it good?') Faced with a beautiful work of art in another medium, one may say, 'Well, it’s like, um, poetry.'

(But one may also say, 'It’s like music.')

Not sure why Paul Schrader didn’t include Parajanov in his book on ‘Transcendental’ ‘Style’ in Film. Partly, perhaps, because he can’t define or even explain ‘transcendental’. The real point of the book was to get people to watch films authored by Ozu, Bresson and Dreyer, so that’s all right. But Ozu is realistic, while Bresson is tedious, and Dreyer is into religion. Parajanov, however, might be ‘transcendental’ (if that means anything).


Schrader, Paul 1972, Transcendental Style in Film: Ozu, Bresson, Dreyer, Da Capo Press.

Garry Gillard | New: 14 March, 2017 | Now: 27 February, 2019