The Cinema of Sergei Parajanov
Publication Year: 2013
Published by: University of Wisconsin Press
Series: Wisconsin Film Studies
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Title Page, Copyright Page
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List of Illustrations
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Zaven Sargsyan and the staff at the Sergei Parajanov Museum in Yerevan not only opened up the rich trove of materials at the museum and answered countless questions, but helped with the logistics of my stays in Yerevan and Kyiv; for this I am endlessly grateful. The late Tetiana Derevianko at the Dovzhenko...
Note on Transliteration
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The subject of this book poses special challenges for transliteration because it encompasses multiple languages and alphabets—primarily Russian, Ukrainian, Georgian, and Armenian. There is no easy solution to the problems that result, nor is it even feasible to achieve complete internal consistency. With this caveat...
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Few film directors ever manage to create a single image that is truly unlike anything you have seen before. In that respect, Sergei Parajanov’s films seem almost reckless in their generosity. We watch a tree falling on the man who has felled it—from the point of view of the tree. An androgynous robed figure...
1. An Artist’s Origins: Youth and Early Ukrainian Films
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The story of Parajanov necessarily begins with Tbilisi, also known historically as Tiflis. The city’s rich history and lore laid the foundations for his eclectic artistic sensibility and his outlook on life. Nestled in a picturesque valley of the Mtkvari (or Kura) River, Tbilisi is divided by a steep gorge. Although the...
2. Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors: Ukrainian Revival
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Judging solely by the films Parajanov had made so far, no one could have predicted what would happen when he was given his next assignment. At the urging of Mykhailo Kotsiubynsky’s daughter, the Dovzhenko Film Studio agreed to produce an adaptation of the Ukrainian writer’s masterpiece Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors...
3. Kyiv Frescoes : The Film That Might Have Been
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Kyiv Frescoes (Kievskie freski, Dovzhenko Film Studio 1965–1966), the aborted project that Parajanov had planned as his follow-up to Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors, represented a major turning point in his career. It marks the first systematic articulation of his mature tableau style associated with The Color of Pomegranates, but...
4. The Color of Pomegranates: The Making and Unmaking of a Film
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However exotic Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors must have seemed to Soviet viewers when it was first released, it nonetheless represented a clear synthesis of three major stylistic paths in Soviet cinema: Kalatozov and Urusevsky’s virtuoso camerawork, Dovzhenko’s poetic tableau imagery, and...
5. Silent Years: Unproduced Scripts, 1967–1973
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During this period Parajanov wrote some of his most significant scripts, among them The Demon (Demon), Confession (Ispoved’), and The Slumbering Palace (Dremliushchii dvorets). Three projects—Intermezzo, Inga, and A Miracle in Odens (Chudo v Odense)—went into preproduction. He was unable to realize...
6. Internal Exile: Arrest and Imprisonment, 1973–1982
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As new details continue to emerge about Parajanov’s 1973 arrest, it has become clear that the Ukrainian KGB, both on its own and likely under direction from Moscow, played the main role. According to one report by the Ukrainian KGB, Parajanov had fallen under scrutiny by the agency since...
7. The Legend of the Surami Fortress: Thunder Over Georgia
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In late November 1982, only weeks after Parajanov’s release from jail, Rezo Chkheidze, the head of the Georgia Film Studio, offered him the opportunity to direct a new film: The Legend of the Surami Fortress (Legenda Suramskoi kreposti, Georgia Film Studio 1984), based on a script by Vazha Gigashvili. The proposal...
8. Ashik-Kerib: The End of a Career
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Parajanov’s next project was supposed to be his long-delayed adaptation of Lermontov’s The Demon, using mountain locations. The Russian painter Mikhail Vrubel’s famed paintings of episodes from The Demon were to serve as a main source of inspiration for its visual style. The film’s cinematographer Albert...
Epilogue: Parajanov’s Afterlife
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Parajanov’s experimental film language and challenging, at times subversive, subject matter place him squarely within the global art film tradition. The question of his infl uence within the countries of the former Soviet Union remains complicated. Younger Soviet filmmakers such as Roman Balaian...
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Other Works in the Series
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Page Count: 326
Illustrations: 43 b/w illus., 1 table
Publication Year: 2013
Series Title: Wisconsin Film Studies