The latest restoration of the original avant-garde film Sayat Nova by the late iconic filmmaker of Soviet times Sergei Parajanov has been shown on big screens in France, Belgium, Switzerland and Spain.
On April 22, the most accurate restoration of the film showing vivid colours and vibrant music was presented across Europe for the first time.
Renowned Georgian actress Sofiko Chiaureli performed the leading role in the movie. She was considered to be a muse of the Armenian poet and musician Sayat Nova.
The Georgian-born Armenian filmmaker started working on the film, which was named after the poet, in 1969 but soon after its release the movie was heavily criticized by Soviet authorities, had its name changed and was subsequently banned.
A report by Russian language Radio France International (RFI)journalist Ksenia Gulia said Armenian, French and British film experts had attempted to restore the movie but these versions were either incomplete or inaccurate.
However the latest creation, by laboratory L'Immagine Ritrovata in Italian Bologna Cinematheque and The Film Foundation's World Cinema Project, has been regarded as the closest interpretation to the original version of the film.
Sayat Nova depicts the life of the revered 18th century Armenian poet and musician Sayat Nova (Vilen Galstyan). Portraying events in the life of the artist from childhood up to his death, the movie addresses in particular his relationships with women, including his muse Sofiko Chiaureli. The production tells Sayat Nova's dramatic story by using his poems and largely still camerawork, creating an impressionistic work.
In 1969 Soviet movie censors banned Sayat Nova as inappropriate for Soviet ideology. They thought the film was confusing and difficult to understand, so they stopped promoting and screening it. The film was also renamed as The Colour of Pomegranates and was given to famous Soviet film director and screenwriter Sergei Yutkevich, so he could revise the content.
Yutkevich was an admirer of Parajanov and tried to minimize his interference on the original film, so reedited it and simplified it so the mass audience could better understand the film’s intention. Initially Parajanov was disappointed by this turn of events but later stated Yutkevich had "saved” his film.
For his vibrant, boundary-pushing films, Parajanov was regarded as an artist who made significant contributions to Ukrainian, Armenian and Georgian cinema. He invented his own cinematic style, which was totally out of step with the guiding principles of socialist realism - the only sanctioned art style in the USSR.
This, combined with his controversial lifestyle and behaviour, led Soviet authorities to repeatedly persecute and imprison him and suppresses his films.
Watch the trailer of the movie: