Poet as Subject: The Color of Pomegranates

Moving Picture Alphabet Series
Friday, January 25, 2013 - 7:00pm

Introduction and Q&A by Robert Bird, Associate Professor in the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures, Cinema and Media Studies, and the College; Associate Faculty in the Divinity School.

The Color of Pomegranates could be loosely described as a “biopic” of Sayat-Nova, the 18th Century Armenian poet and troubadour, but its approach to narrative and imagery is anything but typical of that genre. Rather, the film attempts to wed cinematic style to poetic form (by way of medieval iconography) in order to create what the scholar Rahul Hamid calls “autonomous, resonant images that––like lines of poetry––stay in the mind long after the film has run its course.” A singularly beautiful and strange work.

(Sergei Parajanov, 1968, 35mm, 88 min)

Moving Picture Alphabet Series
Poets have long been drawn to the formal qualities of cinema––its motion, its scale, its imagery, its temporality. The poet Vachel Lindsay found in film the purest expression of “the human soul in action”; Frank O’Hara famously pleaded, “Mothers of America / let your kids go to the movies!” What’s far less discussed is the influence of poetry on filmmaking. This series attempts to redress this imbalance with films that encompass a wide variety of interactions between filmmakers and poets. Over the course of four Friday evenings, the contours of the “poetic film”––an overused and underexamined term in critical discourse––will resolve into a fuller historical specificity. Receptions will follow the screenings.

Curated by Richard Davis (Ph. D. student, EALC/CMS) and Stephanie Anderson (Ph.D. student, English) as a project of the Film Studies Center Graduate Student Curatorial Program. Co-sponsored by The Arts Council, The Film Studies Center, Renaissance Society, Chicago Studies, Poetry & Poetics Workshop, Poem Present and Mass Cultures Workshop.