was shackled by iron bars . . . ".
"Everything is beautiful if you look at
everything through beauty."
With exactly such a look things thrown in the
garbage were transformed into masterpieces of
art in the hands of film director Sergey Parajanov.
His ability to find beauty in everything transformed
broken dishes into bouquets of glass; turned a
worn-out suitcase preserved from childhood into
This year Sergey Parajanov would have become
80 years old. The internationally-acclaimed artist
died in 1990 at the age of 66, following years
of Soviet persecution.
On January 9, incense the color of pomegranate
and wine was burned on his grave in Yerevan's
Pantheon. Relatives and friends covered his tombstone
with flowers and pomegranates. And in his home/museum
overlooking the Zangu gorge in Yerevan, they gathered
to cook harissa and celebrate his memory.
On the occasion of his 80th anniversary, countries
influenced by Parajanov's work will mark his birth
with special events. Plans are underway for events
in Armenia, in Moscow, Kiev and Tbilisi. And in
California, an exhibit of items from the Parajanov
Museum, including his latest films, unique art
collages, posters from his films, videos about
his work, and photographs by Yuri Mechitov are
on exhbit at Hollywood Entertainment Museum through
Deputy Director Barkhudaryan
says Parajanov looked forward to living
in a "normal" house.
Beauty as the highest value and the truth as
a creative principle were the most important components
of Parajanov's art which gave birth to a legend
that became known to the world as Parajanov's
"His art doesn't come from the past but
it is still in the future, it hasn't been appreciated
yet and it hasn't been understood yet," says
cameraman Albert Yavuryan, who used to work with
It's natural that Parajanov's movies, which never
found room within the narrow bounds of Soviet
ideology and "morals", caused not only
great excitement of the audience but insatiable
anger of Party elite as well. At least 40 ideas
and scripts of the artist were destroyed before
they we developed.
"Parajanov was shackled by iron bonds and
his universal talent, which could create the entire
constellation of art works, created only four.
However, these four creations were enough to make
the entire world talk about him," says art
critic Ida Fljyan.
He paid a high price for being talented. When
he was a young film director he was subjected
to forced idleness for 15 years and during that
time period he was forbidden to make movies.
But even during those years Sergey Parajanov
could create fascinating collages made of wood,
metal, paper, colored glass, photographs, and
other items. These collages dealt with mortality,
despair, religion, friendship, and politics.
Parajanov bravely mixed myth, history, folklore
and aestheticism into surrealistic montages of
a rather tumultuous period of the USSR's history.
One of his most popular works, "Shadow of
our Forgotten Ancestors" (1964), brought
him 28 international awards. It is a tragic love
story celebrating Ukrainian folk culture, which
resulted in the imprisonment of Parajanov by the
Soviet authorities for alleged incitement of Ukrainian
nationalism in the country. "The Color of
Pomegranates" (1968) is another popular film.
It is about Armenian poet and composer Sayat Nova.
This movie also highly infuriated Soviet authorities.
In 1974 Parajanov was sentenced to a labor camp
for five years, based on fabricated accusations
of illegal trafficking of religious icons, and
incitement to suicide and homosexuality.
is my biography . . ."
A worldwide campaign, lead by French writer Louis
Aragon, Italian film director Federico Fellini
and American novelist John Updike, persuaded the
Soviet authorities to release him, after serving
four years in prison. In 1982 based on more fabricated
charges by the government, Parajanov was arrested
again and served another 11 months in prison,
before finally being exonerated.
During the last 10 years of his life he managed
to produce only two films: "The Legend of
Suram Fortress" and "Ashik Kerib".
His movies won more than 30 awards at different
film festivals. His name had pierced the Iron
Curtain, but it was not until 1988 that the director
could personally accept his international acclaim.
That year, he was honored at the Rotterdam Film
"My name, biography
I do not remember
my life history well enough. What is my biography?
Pain. This is the endless form of my life,"
Parajanov once said.
In 1990 Parajanov (who was born in Georgia and
lived in Kiev) came to Armenia, from where he
was to travel to France. He had already been sick
with cancer by that time. Ministries of Culture
and Healthcare of France sent a special plane
for him so that he could go to France for treatment.
"Before his departure he came to see his
house and museum, which was half-built by that
time. He was very excited. He told that when he
would recover his health he would return and finally
would be living in a normal house," says
deputy director of Parajanov's House Museum Vigen
However, he never returned and his museum, where
he spent only 20 minutes, was opened only after
his death on July 27, 1991. His entire life with
pains and hopes, with thrown away puppets and
faded photographs is a reborn world about which
Fellini and Marcello Mastroianni wrote:
"With the death of Parajanov cinema lost
one of its magicians. Parajanov's fantasy will
forever fascinate and bring joy to the people
of the world."