W Panailianou tllG Engat
In September 1990, T?rline Voskeritchian wrote "Armenia's Greatest Film Maker Dies at 66; Unique ThlentWasted by Lack of Freedom'On July 20, 1990, after an extended struggle with diabetes, heart nouble, and cancer, Sergei Paradjanov, one ofthe Soviet Union's greatest film makers, died in Yerevan at the age
A native and long-time resident of Tbilisi, Georgia, Paradjanov was bom in
Armenian parents who suffered the horrors of the Stalin years. Paradjanov enrolled at tlre Institute of Cinematography in Moscow where he worked with Ulaainian filmmaker Savchenko and pioneering Russian director Kuleshov. His diploma project in 1952 was Moldavian Fairy Tales, which set the course of Paradjanov's later great films of the 1960's and 1980's - Shadows of Forgottm Ancestors, Nran Guyne (The color of the Pomegranates), Thc Fortress of suram, and Ashugh Ghanb. Paradjanov drew the content of these four great films from "remote" regional cultures of Moldavia, Armeni4 Georgia and Azerbaijan. Shadows gamered more than 15 intemationat prizes and became one of the most illustrious examples of the regional cultural revival of the 1960's. Professional envy at the success of Sludows and the increasing interference of the govemment in the arts, hampered Paradjanov's efforts at making new films. Finally in 1968, he received sion to make Nran Guyne, which had as its subject the life of the 18ttr century Armenian ashugh Sayat Nova. Although the film was funded by the Armenian, Georgian and Azerbaijani film studios, the focus was unequivocally on Armenian culture. Nran Guyne wu completed 1969 and shown in Yerevan and other cities of the Caucasus. The authorities insisted on modifications. Paradjanov refused' The film was edited against Paradjanov's wishes and finally withdrawn from circulation. The authentic version of the film was either destoyed or shelved. His arrest came in 1974 after he refused to tesdry against a member of the Ukrainian national movement. The fifthteen year shetch between 1969 and 1984 silenced Paradjanov, wasted his exEaordinary talent, depleted his health, embittered his spiri! and put an end to the hopes of "cultural revival" which were associated with Shadows ar:d Nran Guyu. The relative freedoms brought by g-lasnost ani perestroika allowed Paradjanov to make two more masterpieces after his release from jail in 1984: The Fomess of Suratn andAshugh Gharib. Paradjanov's loyalties were always to the imagination and only derivatively to self-promotion, politics, or nation:alism. He flamboyantly crossed the long-established and often rigid artistic, national and sexual divides of social and political life. The price he paid for such transgressions was high, but the rewards which he gained were more abundant.
Armenian International Magazine | The Big Escape - June 2000