The Color of Pomegranates (1969) Sergei Parajanov recreates the story of Armenian bard Sayat-Nova through a series of iconographic tableaux. The resplendent colors and austere asceticism of historic locations saturate this movie in ritual. “Actress Sofiko Chiaureli notably plays six roles in the film.” Soviet censors had little understanding or sympathy for such celebration of Armenian culture, and removed a large section due to nationalist and religious content, rearranging the order of sequences. As a result, there are different versions of this film. In 2014, Martin Scorcese’s Film Foundation restored and premiered a version as close as possible to the director’s original intention, which is available on CRITERION.
Is the word itself an image? Chinese
And Egyptians believed the image spoke.
Greek navigators read the Pleiades
To stay the course at night, stroke by stroke.
Is the image a word? Adam named
The animals, and Linnaeus would see
Binomial nomenclature, framed
In ornate, Latinate taxonomy.
But the image is never really named
Unless you turn the subtitles on
Or drink mythic blood from a dragon maimed
By some Teutonic, Operatic song.
We live at the mercy of what we see
And sometimes lack the words to deflect,
As motion pictures fake reality
In computer generated effects.
Sayat Nova keeps a kanancha close
And woos in three languages his bride
Whose lace from black turns red, then white — morose
Though love songs never mention genocide.
Still, when a pomegranate’s crushed to seeds,
Church icons speak yet conceal mysteries.
Persian miniatures calcify creeds
In a background of swinging tapestries.
[Disposable Poem September 1, 2018]