Banned by the Soviet government for this overly stylistic interpretation of Sayat Nova's life, this film presents a poetic biography of a well-loved Armenian ashug's (storyteller's) life. The film is a nearly all-silent tableaux, inspired by the charged symbolism of Armenian illuminated manuscripts. The film went against the grain and mandate of Soviet cinema at the time, which favored socialist realism. Without reserve, Paradjanov's film colorfully celebrates the survival of Armenian culture in the darkness of oppression and political persecution. Sergei Parajanov (Armenian, 1924-94) was a master of cinematography whose films were centered on the celebration of Armenian, Georgian, and Ukrainian culture.
The Darkness Film Series presents three films as a meditation and exploration of darkness in film and cinema. Featuring the works of avant-garde directors from different latitudes, these films refract the idea of darkness through the lens of Japanese theater, political oppression, colonial psychology, and more. This series is organized by Justen Waterhouse.