The Legend of Suram Fortress | Chicago Reader

The Legend of Suram Fortress

After more than a decade of officially enforced inactivity, Soviet filmmaker Sergei Paradjanov (in collaboration with Georgian actor Dodo Abashidze) returned to the world of archaic folk ritual and “reactionary” nationalistic myth that got him in trouble with the authorities in the first place (1985). This visionary reworking of an old Georgian epic about the construction of a medieval fortress doesn't have the terse assurance of Paradjanov's life of Armenian poet Sayat Nova (The Color of Pomegranates), and the ritualized action occasionally veers away from hieratic archetype toward MGM choreographic kitsch. Still, the antique tableau styling (a modernist impersonation of Melies) remains much the same as in the earlier film, and Paradjanov's use of rich, radiantly expressive color could hardly be bettered. It's the poetic reconstruction of cultural identity, not as it presents itself to history but as it exists in the mythic imagination. In Georgian with subtitles. 89 min.

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