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

0 thoughts on “PARADJANOV double at LACMA TONIGHT (Fri)

  1. I’m very jealous of anyone who gets to see these masterpieces on a cinema screen rather than TV.

    I seem to recall reading that the incitement to suicide nonsense was to do with the films being perceived as depressing and reactionary. What’s patently obvious is that they were far too nationalist (Georgian, Armenian, etc), formal and aesthetic for the Soviet authorities. Well the peacocks and the flowers won in the end.

    When do we get some decent DVD releases?

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