bjornam | 08/04/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Paradjanov invented his own unique film language. THE LEGEND OF SURAM FORTRESS is simply one of the greatest film experiences I've had. This surreal story of the sacrifice of a man to build a fortress is told in the tableaux style Paradjanov first used in the brilliant "Color of Pomegranates". Stunning visuals and a special treatment of georgian influenced music to make one of the most gripping music scores I can recall. This film is really special.ASHIK KERIB is an extraordinary fairytale telling the odyssey of a wandering minstrel. Kerib tries to earn enough money to marry the girl he loves. This time Paradjanov's visual style is more dynamic, and the film's subject is brighter than usual. Highly visual, eccentric and surreal.To finally get access to some of Paradjanov's films on DVD is great. I do think the quality of the transfer could have been better though. The color contrast seems a bit too low, and clearly nothing has been done to all the traces of dust and hair on the film. The subtitles are unremovable and a bit dominating in the frame at times. But the magic of the films is still there, this package is worth buying to grasp that. Paradjanov's films might not be everyones cup of tea, but if you're into film poetry in the field of great directors like Tarkovsky and Sokurov, treated in a unique style, then SEE THEM."
The films 5 stars. The DVD 1 star.
Django | Garland, TX United States | 11/25/2003
(1 out of 5 stars)
"I'm tired of Kino productions that only slap the first negative they find onto DVD format and put it on the market. I know these won't sell well, but could you at least try and restore the negative a LITTLE bit? Ashik Kerib is so blurry at times it's a disgrace to Parajanov's memory, not to mention difficult to watch. The gaudy green title cards in English that look like they were done as a junior high computer class project are also worth singling out for criticism.
No special features, nothing. Oh, and the irremovable, burned-onto-the-negative subtitles are simply inexcusable in this day and age of DVD production.
Ironically, the only way to tell Kino that you want them to work harder on their releases is by buying this.There is, however, an alternative. Ruscico, the Russian Cinema Council, has put both of these wonderful films on DVD at a reasonable price, with a clear, sharp, restored negative that puts Kino's release to utter shame, and REMOVABLE subtitles! Search for it online. The only drawback is the unremovable russian voice-over on the Legend of Surami Fortress DVD. Otherwise, skip the Kino, and get those. These beautiful films are worth it."
Plenty o' Paradjanov.
Django | 03/13/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"There are about 2,000 or so people in this country, mostly film students, filmmakers, or film critics, who have even heard of Sergei Paradjanov, let alone *The Legend of Suram Fortress* or *Ashik Kerib*. My review is for those people who were looking up Ridley Scott's *Legend*, or something, and have accidentally stumbled across this page. But then, if you're looking for *Legend*, you're not going to like this, anyway. Whatever, here goes:*The Legend of Suram Fortress* (Five Stars): Fifteen years had passed since Paradjanov had filmed the hallucinatory masterpiece *The Color of Pomegranates*, during which time the director had spent several years in the gulag, courtesy of the KGB. (His crime? Failing to put "social realism", whatever that is, into his films. His homosexuality didn't exactly help his cause, either.) In 1985, he returned to filmmaking, perhaps encouraged by glasnost and the burgeoning freedom in the Soviet Union under Gorbachev. The result is *The Legend of Suram Fortress*, which strikes one as almost a continuation of *Pomegranates*. The style in *Suram Fortress* is only slightly less extreme than in the 1969 film. (For instance, the image is just as flattened to the plane of the screen, recalling the painting-like effect from the earlier movie.) He's assisted here by a co-director, but the film is all Paradjanov's vision. It's an adaptation of a Georgian folk legend about a patriot who bricks himself up in a fortress as a sacrifice to his country. It's also incomprehensible without footnotes, but no matter. The visuals -- to say nothing of the exotic milieu -- are astonishing enough to mesmerize anyone with the patience and imagination to be open to this film.*Ashik Kerib* (Three Stars): Something of a disappointment. This 1988 film, Paradjanov's last, clocks in at barely under 80 minutes, and even so the director's inspiration seems spread very thinly. It's based on a folk tale about a balladeer whose financial prospects are deemed insufficient by the father of the girl he wants to marry. And so we go on another mystical, Paradjanovian journey consisting of painterly imagery, Armenian dancing, and oddball choreography for the extras on the set. The storyline here is more accessible than in his other movies, and that's part of the problem. You get a little bit caught up in the plot, and find yourself getting impatient when the director lingers on the visuals: they frankly slow the story down. And because we're able to pretty much follow what's going on, those visuals seem less exotic than in earlier films by Paradjanov. But *Ashik Kerib* is certainly beautiful enough to not be a waste of your time.All in all, the DVD is worth getting. Kino is not going to make a bundle off this release. The fact that they knew that going in make me respect this company all the more. (The price could be lower, but you can't always get what you want. But sometimes, you get what you need.)"