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Cinematic shadows of Parajanov: Ukrainian film director with a world name

Author : Serhiy Trymbach

10:00, 10 January 2017
Cinematic shadows of Parajanov: Ukrainian film director with a world name

Author : Serhiy Trymbach

January 9 the world marks birthday of "Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors" creator

10:00, 10 January 2017

Read the original text at day.kyiv.ua.

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Parajanov is the commitment for the texture. Phenomenal knowledge of the texture and the material world was indeed his defining feature. Ukrainian dissident Ivan Drach noted: "I have not seen a man who would feel that the world consists of touchable parts."

The complexity of the phenomenon of Parajanov is that he should be called an innovator by the apparent signs. Well, indeed,  he was an innovator in Ukrainian, European, and world cinema; his cinematic language, style, and view were unique. However the best films of the director, starting from "Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors," was shot on some purely archaic materials, excluded from reality, active social life, and culture in general.

Related: Sergei Parajanov: You want a spark? I`ll give you a spark!

At the turn of 1950-60's, being an innovator was trendy, as well as discovering something new and original. However, the French Wave brought its nuances: intersection of Hollywood practices (something illusive, that is not based on our experience of contact with reality as such) and the experience of cinema, intended for the rehabilitation of physical reality (referring to the book of Siegfried Krakauer).

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Cinematic practices of Parajanov combine love and charm of film texture (paralleled with his antique aptitudes, ability to see a textured surface of a story, a small, private, and a large, sometimes even spatial story - as it happened in "Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors") and magical ability to capture meta-content, see meta-reality. In cemeteries, for example.

The cemetery gate

Paradjanov did not finish his script of "The Confession" due to his disease and death. He said: "This screenplay is composed of a chain of memories that woke up in my memory before the closed gates of the cemetery..." Old Tbilisi cemetery was closed, and in its place a "recreation park" was built(the familiar idiom in Soviet times, quite a common phenomenon of rupture memory connection with the past).

Paradjanov decided to make this “roots-breaking” process one the overriding image of his film. The ancestors lived at the cemetery, now they have become homeless. What do they do? They come to his relative, to Parajanov.

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The images are transmitted through the memory of the things. Old sewing machine "Singer," rusty keys of the monastery, and French pronunciation of Madame Germain, who is 90 years old, but she is alive.... These are symblols of life, which would be dead, if not these magical things that tenaciously hold to a human memory. According to Parajanov, the best and most effective way to restore the memory, to fill in the gaps, gaps in it, is go to the auction and buy things.

However, death is seen as a necessary and organic component life. The death of his father and a neighbor Vira, aunt Siran... Parajanov's perceived death, according to many testimonies, primarily as a rite of carnival-style, where vital optimism still prevails. Because we, humans, exist in boundless space, and we don’t care that some degree of the "missile" has burned and passed away.

Related: 50th anniversary of world known film “Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors” by Parajanow

Parajanov's wife, Svitlana Shcherbatyuk, told that when her mother died, Parajanov came to the funeral (they were already divorced at that time). He looked in a coffin and cried: "What did you put on her?  Her closes are not good!". And he quickly changed the fragments of clothing, general composition, and music in the coffin beside her. Throwing a last glance at the picture, he quickly disappeared. Typical situation for Parajanov: he depicted metaphysics of death through the texture of the things and closing.

 Eidos and the ancient

Sometimes Parajanov is qualified as postmodernists. Indeed, a return to tradition, retrospectiveness, emphasis on local and general national characteristics (what in 1974 ruling Communist Party called "ethnographism"), reluctance, opposition to an industrial features, dual encoding touched the mass and elite audience...

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For Parajanov found image and Eidos important not only in art, but in life as well. By the way, a considerable number of his memoirists say that the artist was associated with the people of antiquity - especially by his formative activity.

He rarely put up with the surrounding reality as such (even speaking about dead or the cemetery space) - he immediately transformed in his own way any set of objects, trying to reach maximum intensity, imaginative structuring. In some sense, Paradjanov believed that every thing has a very specific memory, a particular image. And his inner meaning should just be revealed by counter formative activity.

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 And the older is the thing, the more figurative and richer is its content. That is right, the idea is to "unpack" the image and free it from the "packaging material." Thus, the author is deprived of avant-garde idea that he is the sole creator of an art galaxy, which comes from the author or creator. Parajanov is in the context of another tradition, which involves not only the activity of the subject of creation, but also figurative concentrate of the subject, on which formative activity is aimed.

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