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Cinema Talks > 2016 Spring (Season 9)

Cine Club: Wednesday 30 Mrch 2016(7 to 9 pm - All are Welcome)

Ashik Kerib

Director:  Sergei Paradjanov (Georgia/Aremenia)
Aremenian, Azerbajiani and Georgian (Eng S/T)
1 hour 13 min
Key Actors:  
Yuri Mgoyan, Sofiko Chiaureli, Ramaz Chkhikvadze

Interesting Links about the Film:

Link to IMDB: Click Here
YouTube Trailer: Click Here
World Cinema Review: Click Here
Kutmanov Website: The Cinema of Parajanov: Click Here
The New York Times: Click Here

Ashik Kerib (literally, "the strange lover" or عاشق غريب) is a 1988 film by the Soviet-Georgian and Armenian filmmakers Dodo Abashidze and Sergei Parajanov based on the short story of the same name by Mikhail Lermontov. It was Parajanov's last completed film and was dedicated to his close friend Andrei Tarkovsky, who had died two years previously. The film also features a detailed portrayal of Azerbaijani culture.

“The allegories in Ashik Kerib are on a child's level. They are not philosophical. If you are a poet, armor will interfere with your song; if you see the blind, give them a caress.” Quotation from Sergei Paradjanov.

Watching Paradjanov's tender little masterpiece, "Ashik Kerib" is almost like gazing at a delicate Persian miniature that suddenly flames into life and begins to shake and dance. The film is a feast of color, a banquet of music, an orgy of poetry and sensuality, yet it's also overpoweringly strange. It really transports us into another world--not the world of the past, the medieval Caucasus, where it supposedly takes place, or the 19th-Century Russia of its writer, Mikhail Lermontov--but a realm that seems somehow outside time, of pure poetry, childhood delight.

There's an ecstatic abandon about this movie, a curious mixture of extreme sophistication and conscious naiveté. It's a rapturously strange, eccentric fairy tale about a poor minstrel's seven-year odyssey to save his loved one from forced marriage by her Turkish merchant father. This simple story becomes a visual feast, filled with fruits, silks, castles, camels, birds, magical landscapes, mysterious hills and plains--as Parajanov and co-director David Abachidze give us the tale in painterly images, constant music and two layers of narration, dialogue and mime. ("Ashik" was shot in the Muslim dialect Azerbaijani and the Georgian translation is dubbed on top of it, making for a cross-babble that might ordinarily annoy you. Here, it seems magically appropriate.) (Adapted from The Los Angeles Times (Movie Review): Click Here.

Director: Sergei Paradjanov
(adapted from Wikipedia: Click Here)

One of the 20th century's greatest masters of cinema, in the 1960s, Parajanov produced 2 masterpieces in a row: Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors (1964) and The Color of Pomegranates (1968). Both established him as a phenomenon with no analogy in the art world.

Paradjanov was born in 1924, in Tbilisi, Georgia, USSR, to an ethnic Armenian family. In 1945 he traveled to Moscow and entered the directing department at VGIK, one of the oldest and most highly respected film schools in Europe. He studied under director Igor Savchenko and later Aleksandr Dovzhenko in Kiev, Ukraine. He then moved to Kiev, where after a few documentaries (Dumka (1957), Zolotye ruki (1957), Natalya Uzhviy (1957)) and several narrative films (Andriesh (1954), Ukrainian Rhapsody (1961), Tsvetok na kamne (1962)) he created the magnificent Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors, which won countless international awards, including the British Academy Award. The success of Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors was compared to that of the super influential Battleship Potemkin (1925); however, "Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors" didn't conform to the standards of Soviet cinema and Parajanov was immediately blacklisted.

He left for Armenia to film the documentary Hakob Hovnatanyan (1967), and then in 1968 he created Sayat Nova (The Color of Pomegranates), his masterpiece. Sayat Nova was banned by Soviet authorities, re-edited and re-named The Color of Pomegranate. In December of 1973, the Soviet government arrested Parajanov and sentenced him to 5 years in hard labor camps. A large group of world-famous artists, filmmakers and activists protested and Parajanov was released, but only after having served four horrific years in the Soviet penal system. Poet Louis Aragon's petition to the Soviet government was instrumental in securing Parajanov's release.

Parajanov returned to Tbilisi, but the regime continued to keep him away from cinema. During and after prison Paradjanov created extraordinary collages, drawings and numerous other art works, now frequently exhibited worldwide. In 1984, however, political conditions started to change and, with the help of Georgian intellectuals, the government allowed Parajanov to create the multi-award winning The Legend of Suram Fortress (1984) 15 long years after Sayat Nova.

In 1986 Parajanov made yet another multi-award winning film, Ashik Kerib (1988), based on a tale by Mikhail Lermontov, and dedicated the film to his friend Andrei Tarkovsky. His stay in prison had crushed his health, however, and he passed away in July of 1990, leaving his final masterpiece The Confession unfinished. It survives in its original negative in Parajanov: The Last Spring (1992) by his closest friend Mikhail Vartanov.

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