i just saw the legend of the suram fortress (from 1984) by sergei parajanov, which, like all of parajanov´s films, left me in mere wonder and admiration, dazzled and dazed and touched and feeling blessed to have at least two eyes and ears to enjoy this universe of splendid beauty.
the story is based upon an ancient georgian tale. in a place somewhere in the most beautiful mountainous steppe, people are trying to save a broken fortress again and again, but the walls won´t stop from crumbling down. in order for the walls to stop falling apart, a young boy must eventually be immured alive into the walls.
in perfectly stylized and symmetrical tableau vivants reminiscent of byzantine or naive art, the actors perform ritualistic seeming aesthetical and metaphorical rites that illustrate the story. in a very literary technique, the story is told bit by bit, segmented into little chapters and the images almost seem like the come to life, miraculous images illustrating old and sacred books from forgotton and imaginary times like the bible.
i often had to think of matthew barney´s cremaster cycle and i´m so sure, barney took much of his inspiration from parajanov.
the costumes and colors and collages are of such crazy and visionary, hallucinating, surrealistic, ethnographic and fairy tale-like theurgy, i don´t think there´s anything you could compare parajanov´s style to. it´s a unique and closed cosmos of staggering, poetic, jumbled, mythical, iconic, performative images that are satisfying in a way a lunatic who is compulsive about order must feel deeply satisfied when everything is symmetrical and in it´s place.
maybe you could compare these beautiful little tableaus to aesthetical compulsive acts. i guess that´s what comes closest.
the way he arranges and sets up animals and foods and dresses and dancers and actions (such as two black dressed men slicing flying, blood-red pomegrenades with their silver swords infront of two symmetrically arranged great danes) is simply incomparable and insanely gorgeous. it is at times so absurdly beautiful and bizarre and strange that i had to laugh and hold my breath at the same time.
parajanov disassambles the body of the classical cinema narrative into complex yet simple seeming images and actions, like little narrative limbs, that are re-organised in a very intuitive, child-like, narrative construction. you could call it dream-like or absurdist or surrealistic, but there is indeed no name i could think of that would adequately describe his personal, poetic, collage technique.
i loved this film so dearly dearly dearly.