“Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors:” Merry Christmas to Old Calendarists

7 Jan

Shadows churchScene from Sergei Paradzhanov’ “Shadows…”

“Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors:” Merry Christmas to Old Calendarists

Ivanko (Ivan Mykolaychuk) and Marichka (Larisa Kadochnikova) in one of the most beautiful shots, Christmas in church, of the beautiful film Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors.  It’s maker, Sergei Paradzhanov, was forgotten for decades largely for having spent time in Soviet prisons for “social” crimes.

I’d written a post about him before (below).  Also read about Hutsuls, the Ukrainian sub-ethnic group of the Carpathians and their – what I like to call — High Folk Civilization.  Paradzhanov was clearly in love with the milieu — and the boys.  In fact, he was a little bit of a shithead.  He’d borrow embroidered shirts and heirloom vests and beaded headresses for the productions and then never return them.

Thankfully they’ve been restored and are available on a Blu-Ray package and Amazon Prime. I know, I tried not to go there, but they have a fucking monopoly on everything).

Jadde’s homepage photo: Sergei Paradzhanov

12 Nov

I had thought that maybe I would permanently keep the photographs that I first posted on the blog’s homepage when I started it (Turkish refugees from Rumeli in turn of the century Istanbul and adorable kids in Samarina in 1983), as sort of a trademark, or what obnoxious “Ok, millenials” call a “meme” — which is just a mystified/jargonized term for what used to simply be called an “image”.  But when you don’t have any new ideas, you make up fake new words to cover for the fact.

Then I saw footage from a Paradzhanov film that I love, and remembered that he’s among my two or three favorite directors.  It’s strange that I hadn’t thought of him before, because he was essentially obsessed — possessed would not be an exaggeration — with the visual beauty of our parts, of the Jadde world.  He was almost an our parts pornographer, in the most beautiful sense of the word, fixated on the image of our cultures’ physical (and I mean that sexually) and male and material beauty, more interested in the fetishized gaze and tableaux than in editing or the syntax of cinema.  In our world today, where cinematic and video language has been so perverted and debased that the average viewing time between editing cuts is less than three seconds — we’re kept watching by the fact that we’re not allowed to actually look at anything — Paradzhanov granted us the delicious luxury of lingering over every beautiful detail his cinematic mind generated.

So, I decided that every month I’m going to change the homepage pic with one from his various films.  This one is from his 1969 The Color of Pomegranates, widely considered his masterpiece, though it’s not my favorite.  That would be his 1965 Shadows of Our Forgotten Ancestors, though Pomegranates is without a doubt a beauty.

Hope you enjoy them as much as I like to watch them and post the stills.  Unfortunately, the crappy greenish Soviet color film stock they were shot in and the abysmal curatorial conditions these films were kept under for so many decades means that some of the stills will be soft or just not of optimal quality.  But I hope you enjoy them anyway and look out for opportunities to see them, and hopefully on a real screen and not your Mac…


Comment: nikobakos@gmail.com

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