Scen: Kora Tsereteli. F.: Nodar Paliashvili. M.: M. Ponomarenko. Int.: Lika Kavzharadze, Lela Alibegashvili. Prod.: Qronikalur-Dokumenturi Pilmebis Studia. DCP. D.: 20’. Col.
In the most stylistically distinctive Georgian documentary in the series, Parajanov pays tribute to Georgia’s saintly artist Niko Pirosmani (1862-1918), whose paintings of kings, commoners and animals are seemingly childlike yet remarkably modern. Parajanov arranges the paintings in a loose structure around subjects and people, capturing the melancholic and metaphysical nature of Pirosmani’s work; Pirosmani’s rejection of the rules of perspective is echoed by Parajanov’s own tableau-style cinema. Using the teahouse storytelling of that region (to which other masters such as Abbas Kiarostami returned), Parajanov uses non-diegetic sound to give life to still images. A cut takes us to a photographer’s studio in the early 20th century where models with chalk-white faces pose for the camera. Parajanov alludes to cinema as the mechanical reproduction of the artworks shown; a mechanical piano is cranking in the background. In the last scene, with the dolly tracks visible within the frame, the camera is drawn forward, through a doorway, beyond the one-dimensional set, and into modern-day Georgia. The sound of a duduk, probably the saddest instrument in the world, accompanies an ending of inexplicable beauty.