The Color of Pomegranates, rescored by Nicolas Jaar and Juno Reactor
March 2, 2015 8:15 AM   Subscribe

When Martin Scorsese introduced his Film Foundation’s newly restored version of The Colour of Pomegranates at the Toronto film festival in September he told the expectant audience they were going to witness images and visions “pretty much unlike anything in cinema history”.

The 1969 Armenian film, voted 84th best of all-time in the most recent Sight & Sound magazine greatest movies poll, only gained a belated official release in western cinemas in 1982, but even the cinephiles and critics who have lauded the film with such extravagant praise since should now prepare to see Sergei Parajanov’s masterpiece afresh.
For a taste of what has been restored, you can watch the entire unremastered film in two parts on YouTube, and the whole film in lower quality on Archive.org. For another novel experience, you can view a much higher quality of the film with a new score by Nicolas Jaar, and see a lower quality version with the new score by Ben Watkins AKA Juno Reactor, as commissioned by the Bialystok Film Festival in Poland last year. Juno Reactor had previously used visuals from Pomegranates for the video of "God is God."

The original score is by Tigran Mansurian (Wikipedia; slightly longer biography), and you can focus on the soundtrack and sound effects in this eight minute soundtrack excerpt with a still image.
posted by filthy light thief (19 comments total) 65 users marked this as a favorite
 
The unremastered film and the Jaar re-score include English subtitles as a toggle-able YouTube option. I think the Juno Reactor version has hard-coded Polish subtitles, but I could be wrong about the language.

Sergei Parajanov and The Color of Pomegranates, previously, though some links are now dead.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:19 AM on March 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


How can one track down and watch the newly remastered version, is it festival circuit only or is it VOD anywhere? Wasn't clear from that title...does the newest restoration have Juno Reactor on it?
posted by trackofalljades at 8:36 AM on March 2, 2015


Tangentially: that Sight & Sound magazine greatest movies poll, is actually pretty good. Out of the ~250 movies listed, there where only a small handful that I'd argue against, and naturally everyone is going to squabble over 'the injustice that X is there but not Y and how dare Z be higher ranked than XYZ', but taken collectively, it's a really really good list.
posted by edgeways at 8:49 AM on March 2, 2015 [2 favorites]


I respect the hell out of Parajanov (and why isn't his name mentioned in the post? I hate to keep harping on this, but the trend bothers me), even if he isn't my kind of director (Tarkovsky's much more to my taste). Thanks for the post.

> Tangentially: that Sight & Sound magazine greatest movies poll, is actually pretty good.

Yeah, it looks really good (myself, I wouldn't put 2001: A Space Odyssey as high as #6, but that's a quibble), but I got tired of hitting "Load more" and only saw the top 40 -- is there any way to see the whole list at once?
posted by languagehat at 9:13 AM on March 2, 2015




The Nicolas Jaar version got taken down, anyone have an alternate? I found 6 minutes.
posted by Nelson at 10:25 AM on March 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


> How can one track down and watch the newly remastered version

To be honest, I first came across that information while looking for information on the movie not related to the Nicolas Jaar soundtrack, so I'm not sure. There was a Japanese-edition digital remastered DVD, but that came out in 2009 and it's now out of print. Here's Film Foundation's page on their remastering, which only links to an Oscars-related showing on Sept. 20, 2014. Here is more information on the restoration from James M. Steffen, who says 1) this is a 4k digital restoration, and 2) it's currently doing film festival circuits, and "one hopes that it will see a Blu-ray/DVD release at some point in the future."

With that, Jaar's video was 1080p, which is the high end of Blu-Ray discs, below the full 4k potential that YouTube supports, but it seems Jaar didn't have permission to use that film. I'm sure it will pop up again somewhere, on torrents if nowhere else. The soundtrack alone is known simply as "Pomegranates," and was recently released on his Other People label. It's not on Discogs yet, but I'm sure it will be listed there soon, and I think he'll release it through other venues in the weeks to come.


> I respect the hell out of Parajanov (and why isn't his name mentioned in the post? I hate to keep harping on this, but the trend bothers me)...

His name is in the second paragraph in the blockquote:

> The 1969 Armenian film, voted 84th best of all-time in the most recent Sight & Sound magazine greatest movies poll, only gained a belated official release in western cinemas in 1982, but even the cinephiles and critics who have lauded the film with such extravagant praise since should now prepare to see Sergei Parajanov’s masterpiece afresh.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:37 AM on March 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


Oops, sorry!
posted by languagehat at 10:41 AM on March 2, 2015


Quite alright, I was worried I had omitted Parajanov's name, as I'm still low by a cup or two of coffee today.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:58 AM on March 2, 2015


I am unbelievably stoked to watch the Jaar-scored version if I can get my hands on it. Thanks flt!
posted by en forme de poire at 11:09 AM on March 2, 2015


I remember stumbling on The Color of Pomegranates late one night. I was merely curious what it was, and started it thinking I would only watch a few minutes.

By the end, I was wondering why the Hell I had never heard of it before.
posted by louche mustachio at 11:38 AM on March 2, 2015


I managed to download the Nicolas Jaar soundtrack at this site. It links to one of those scummy sites that shoves ads, captchas, and malware at you before ending at a ridiculously throttled download. But 90 minutes later it appears to be a legit copy of all 20 tracks at 320kbps MP3. Only listened briefly; have to go take a shower to wash off the digital scabies first. But it matches what's on the Other People site.
posted by Nelson at 11:46 AM on March 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


TIL nothing better has come along in cinema since the awkward, wooden Vertigo in 1958. Makes you wonder why anybody bothers.
posted by turbid dahlia at 3:33 PM on March 2, 2015


(And I actually like Vertigo.)
posted by turbid dahlia at 3:34 PM on March 2, 2015


I'm guessing this is not a story about pool hustlers with a soundtrack by Eric Clapton?
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 7:27 PM on March 2, 2015


The Jaar re-scored version is on Vimeo, uploaded from Nicolas Jaar's account, with a runtime of 77 minutes and the HD version scaled at 1080p, but I'm still not sure if this is the recently restored edition, or just a nice copy of the earlier edition.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:24 AM on March 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


trackofalljades: Wasn't clear from that title...does the newest restoration have Juno Reactor on it?

Sorry for the confusion. The new "restored" edition features the original score. As a semi-related bonus, there are two alternate scores from prominent "electronic" musicians, one of which was recently released, possibly attached to the restored version of the film.
posted by filthy light thief at 12:12 PM on March 3, 2015


That new Vimeo version has some really nasty comb artifacts so it came from some interlaced video source, not a clean 1080p print.
posted by Nelson at 2:54 PM on March 3, 2015


Indeed, and in comparison I'm pretty sure the YouTube video looked great at 1080p. I'm hoping I can find a copy of that floating around somewhere. Until then, the Vimeo copy is better than nothing.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:39 AM on March 4, 2015


« Older This story is about the guards.   |   Isaiah 2:3-4 Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments