The Films of Sergei Paradjanov | Los Angeles County Museum of Art

February 29 7:30 PM The Color of Pomegranates
9:20 PM The Legend of Suram Fortress

“Cursed by fate to make films within a Soviet system that condemned him as a decadent and a “surrealist.”… Paradjanov was nothing if not a catapulting folklorist, recreating the primitive pre-Soviet era as it might’ve been dreamt of in the opium-befogged skull of Omar Khayyám. There could hardly have been a more oppositive reply to Socialist Realism.” – Michael Atkinson,

The films of Armenian painter and poet Sergei Paradjanov are joyous, colorful and musical expressions of visionary experience that revel in parable, myth and allegory. Inspired by the fables and traditions of Ukraine and the Caucasus, their delirious invention and ecstatic beauty belie a personal life marked by persistent persecution and imprisonment under the Soviet regime. Born in 1924 to Armenian parents in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi, Paradjanov studied railway engineering and music before enrolling in the Moscow Film Institute. He rose to international acclaim with 1965’s Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors. Commissioned as a straight adaptation honoring the centenary of Ukrainian writer Mikhail Kotsiubinsky and filmed amongst a Gutsul tribe, it won awards at sixteen film festivals for its stunning blend of rapturous cinematography and folkloric structure. However, it was attacked by Soviet censors for excessive “formalism” and “Ukrainian nationalism.”

Paradjanov was first incarcerated in the early 1970s in a maximum security prison. In the early 1980s, he was again arrested and imprisoned. Both times, he was falsely charged of such crimes as homosexuality, bribery and inciting suicide [????]. He later joked that he was the only filmmaker locked up under Stalin, Brezhnev and Andropov and he even teased friend Andrei Tarkovsky that “what you are lacking is a year in prison; your talent would deepen and grow more powerful.” A committee which included René Clair, Catherine Deneuve, Yves Montand, Alain Resnais and Agnès Varda was formed in hopes of repatriating the director to France Paradjanov was unable to complete a feature film between 1968’s The Color of Pomegranates and 1985’s The Legend of Suram Fortress. By his own count, he had up to twenty-four film proposals rejected by Soviet authorities. All the while, he made several hundred paintings, sculptures and collages, most of which are now housed at the museum in his honor located in the Armenian capital of Yerevan. It was inaugurated in 1991, one year after his death.

The Color of Pomegranates
February 29 | 7:30 pm
While exiled in Armenia, Paradjanov pays tribute to the life of 18th century troubadour turned archbishop Sayat Nova. Though suppressed for two years by Soviet authorities and only released in a shorter, censored version, it remains a ravishing and enigmatic masterwork considered by many as Paradjanov’s crowning achievement. “An extraordinarily beautiful film…any one of its linked tableaux is a startling combination of Byzantine flatness, Quattrocento beatifics and Islamic symmetry.” – J. Hoberman, Village Voice
1969/color/73 min. | Scr/dir: Sergei Paradjanov; w/ Sofiko Chiaureli

The Legend of Suram Fortress
February 29 | 9:20 pm
Paradjanov’s first film after his years in prison is a retelling of Georgia’s national legend about a formidable castle whose walls continuously crumble until a fortune-teller reveals its secret. “Paradjanov’s most sumptuous production…at once overplotted and oblique, Christian and pagan, archaic and postmodern.” – J. Hoberman, Village Voice
1984/color/83 min. | Scr: Vazha Gigashvili; dir: Sergei Paradjanov; w/ Veriko Andzhaparidze, Dodo Abashidze, Sofiko Chiaureli


Tickets are $9; $6 for LACMA members, seniors (62+), and students with valid ID. Price includes both films in a double bill except where noted. Tickets to the second film on a double bill are $5.00 and are only available at the museum box office prior to the screening. Please note: Many programs sell out. Tickets are on sale now and may be purchased at the museum box office (323 857-6010). All films are subject to change and many films are unrated and may not be appropriate for younger viewers. For more information or to check current programs, call the museum box office at (323) 857-6010, visit or subscribe to the Film Department’s e-newsletter by emailing

Survey finds teenagers don't know shit.

Survey Finds Teenagers Ignorant on Basic History and Literature Questions

Published: February 27, 2008 New York Times

Fewer than half of American teenagers who were asked basic history and literature questions in a phone survey knew when the Civil War was fought, and one in four said Columbus sailed to the New World some time after 1750, not in 1492.

The survey results, released on Tuesday, demonstrate that a significant proportion of teenagers live in “stunning ignorance” of history and literature, said the group that commissioned it, Common Core.

The organization describes itself as a new research and advocacy organization that will press for more teaching of the liberal arts in public schools.

The group says President Bush’s education law, No Child Left Behind, has impoverished public school curriculums by holding schools accountable for student scores on annual tests in reading and mathematics, but in no other subjects.

Politically, the group’s leaders are strange bedfellows. Its founding board includes Antonia Cortese, executive vice president of the American Federation of Teachers, a union that is a powerful force in the Democratic Party, and Diane Ravitch, an education professor at New York University who was assistant education secretary under the first President George Bush.

Its executive director is Lynne Munson, former deputy chairwoman of the National Endowment for the Humanities and former special assistant to Vice President Dick Cheney’s wife, Lynne.

“We’re a truly diverse group,” Mrs. Munson said. “We almost certainly vote differently, and we have varying opinions about different aspects of educational reform. But when it comes to concern that all of America’s children receive a comprehensive liberal arts and science education, we all agree.”

In the survey, 1,200 17-year-olds were called in January and asked to answer 33 multiple-choice questions about history and literature that were read aloud to them. The questions were drawn from a test that the federal government administered in 1986.

About a quarter of the teenagers were unable to correctly identify Hitler as Germany’s chancellor in World War II, instead identifying him as a munitions maker, an Austrian premier and the German kaiser.

On literature, the teenagers fared even worse. Four in 10 could pick the name of Ralph Ellison’s novel about a young man’s growing up in the South and moving to Harlem, “Invisible Man,” from a list of titles. About half knew that in the Bible Job is known for his patience in suffering. About as many said he was known for his skill as a builder, his prowess in battle or his prophetic abilities.

The history question that proved easiest asked the respondents to identify the man who declared, “I have a dream.” Ninety-seven percent correctly picked the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

About 8 in 10, a higher percentage than on any other literature question, knew that Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird” is about two children affected by the conflict in their community when their father defends a black man in court.

In a joint introduction to their report, Ms. Cortese and Dr. Ravitch did not directly blame the No Child law for the dismal results but said it had led schools to focus too narrowly on reading and math, crowding time out of the school day for history, literature and other subjects.

“The nation’s education system has become obsessed with testing and basic skills because of the requirements of federal law, and that is not healthy,” Ms. Cortese and Dr. Ravitch said.

A string of studies have documented the curriculum’s narrowing since Mr. Bush signed the law in January 2002.

Last week, the Center on Education Policy, a research group in Washington that has studied the law, estimated that based on its own survey that 62 percent of school systems had added an average of three hours of math or reading instruction a week at the expense of time for social studies, art and other subjects.

TONIGHT (Mon): Ray Harryhausen, Forrest J. Ackerman and Ray Bradbury TOGETHER in Glendale


above: Ray Bradbury displays a gift bottle of dandelion wine at a previous signing.


above: Smilin’ Ray Harryhausen at a previous signing.

From Bookfellows/Mystery and Imagination‘s announcement list email:

Monday, February 25, 7:30:

“Ray Harryhausen, Forrest Ackerman and Ray Bradbury–the three founding members of the Los Angeles Science Fiction Association–will be giving a talk, doing a Q&A, and signing books and DVDs on hand at our bookstore. This will fun and very special. Please join us in celebrating these remarkable men’s contributions to the science fiction and horror genres.

“Mr. Harryhausen, the inventor of stop-motion animation will be visiting Los Angeles from his home in London! Mr. Ackerman was Mr. Bradbury’s first agent and is credited with helping to sell Mr. Bradbury’s first book.

“We have a photo posted of the three horror/sci-fi film pioneers, whose first loves were dinosaurs and KING KONG, at their sci-fi meeting in the 1950s at Clifton’s cafeteria in downtown LA. Mr. Harryhausen’s film THE BEAST FROM 20,000 FATHOMS was inspired by Mr. Bradbury’s story THE FOGHORN. The three men are incredibly linked to each other and to the genre and have quite an anecdotal history to talk about. They blazed the trail for so many others.

“Yes, all you special effects people–please bring your models and creations to show Mr. Harryhausen. Last year, when they were brought, Mr. Harryhausen loved it!

“In respect for the energy of the three men aged 87, 87 and 91, we have agreed with the authors not to take any mail orders for this event. Sorry, NO items will be allowed to be brought into the bookstore to be signed for this event. Thanks for your understanding and respect for the authors.

“MYSTERY AND IMAGINATION is owned and operated by Malcolm and Christine Bell, who have been Los Angeles-area purveyors of Mystery, Detective, Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror fiction since 1975.

“In recent years, under the name BOOKFELLOWS, the couple has expanded their stock to include all kinds of Fiction, Poetry, Drama, Children’s Lit, Performing Arts, Western Americana, and fine books in many non-fiction areas.

“Malcolm and Christine are members of the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association of American and the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers; they serve on the board of Firsts Magazine, and regularly offer articles and advice to the readers of that book collecting journal.

“Our open shop, BOOKFELLOWS/MYSTERY AND IMAGINATION, is located in the Los Angeles area, at 238 N. Brand Blvd. in Glendale, California 91203, and houses over 4,000 square feet of books, ranging from scarce first editions to paperbacks.

“We welcome wantlists and happily conduct book searches. Give us a call at 818/545-0206, email us at, or, best of all, come visit us in person to browse, search for that elusive title, or just talk books.

“We’re open seven days a week!
Monday-Thursday, 10am-7pm
Friday-Saturday, 10am-8pm
Sunday, noon to 6pm”

link courtesy P. Relic!