| THE COLOR OF ARMENIAN LAND (1969)
In his wordless debut film, Mikhail Vartanovpresents the ancient and modern art of Armenia through the post-impressionist painter Martiros Saryan's silent commentary of gestures. Biblical landscapes, the ruins of temples, frescos, cross-stones, contemporary sculptures of Chakmakchian, the first appearance on film of iconic modernist painter Minas and his paintings, as well as the world famous behind-the-scenes episodes of Sergei Parajanov's landmark Sayat Nova.
The score of The Color of Armenian Land was composed by Tigran Mansurian, who later also scored Sayat Nova and several of Vartanov's other films, such as Autumn Pastoral (1971).
[The Color of Armenian Land]
Appearance of Sergei Parajanov and painter Minas, whom the communist authorities didn't favor, was the key reason why Vartanov's The Color of Armenian Land was shelved. Vartanov was later blacklisted for supporting and corresponding with the imprisoned Sergei Parajanov. Some of the sequences of The Color of Armenian Land reappeared in Vartanov's Paradjanov: The Last Spring, but an important part was stolen from the archives - only 1 frame recently surfaced (below).
[Sergei Paradjanov poses for Mikhail Vartanov in 1968]
The above frame is from the sequence that was not part of the final censored cut of the Color of Armenian Land -- when Vartanov wanted to include this footage into Parajanov: The Last Spring he couldn't find it in the archives. In 1998 a calendar was printed in Armenia where this frame was used and credited to a "staff photographer" while in reality someone cut the original negative of Mikhail Vartanov's film and enlarged its 35mm frame. In 2014, Vartanov's image of Parajanov was selected for the offical catalogue by Festival de Cannes.
The Color of the Armenian Land had it's first public screening at one of the world's largest and prestigeous cinematic events, the Busan International Film Festvail, 43 years after it was made.
CAST and ART DEPARTMENT:
Mikhail Vartanov (Writer, Director, Cinematographer)
Tigran Mansuryan (Composer)
Karen Kurdiyan (Sound)
© Parajanov-Vartanov Institute