James Steffen receives positive review for work on the Colour of Pomegranates

Actress Sofiko Chiaureli in The Color of Pomegranates.

James Steffen, Film Studies & Media Librarian, participated in the research to restore the 1969 film Colour of Pomegranates by Sergei Parajanov.  The restored film was recently reviewed by Sight and Sound, a leading film magazine.  In the review, the work which James contributed is recognized:

According to Home Cinema‘s Michael Brooke, “The film’s many internal mysteries, too, have been elucidated over time, thanks to scholars like James Steffen, whose optional subtitled ‘footnotes’ are frequently revelatory, explaining not only the historical events in the life of 18th-century Armenian poet Sayat-Nova (the film is technically a biopic) but separating the specifically Armenian, Georgian, Persian and Azeri Turkic wellsprings that feed the film’s astonishing creative flow. Steffen also highlights which elements were Parajanov’s own invention, while also paying regular tribute to Tigran Mansuryan, whose music and sound design are an often underusing yet indelible part of the overall achievement.”

The actual restoration of the film was completed in 2013 by the World Cinema Project, part of Martin Scorsese’s Film Foundation (http://www.film-foundation.org/world-cinema). James was a historical advisor on the restoration.

The Sight & Sound review is for the special Blu-ray edition released by the company Second Sight in the UK last month: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Colour-Pomegranates-Limited-Blu-Ray/dp/B074R57XXL/. This represents the first appearance of the restoration on home video. The edition’s producer, Daniel Bird, invited James to contribute the following items for the edition:

  • Subtitle commentary track
  • Booklet essay
  • New translation of the film’s script from the original Russian

James Steffen, Humanities Librarian.

For James, it was a particularly rewarding effort. “Sergei Parajanov’s The Color of Pomegranates is widely regarded as a masterpiece of world cinema, but for years it has been available only in relatively poor quality prints and DVDs. It has been truly gratifying to participate in the film’s restoration and to help make Parajanov’s legacy accessible to a wider audience.”

The same restoration will be released on Blu-ray and DVD in the U.S. by the Criterion Collection in April, and James contributed a newly commissioned video essay for that edition as well: https://www.criterion.com/films/29219-the-color-of-pomegranates.

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