Sergei Parajanov, I can only imagine what it must have been like to live with your particular mind inside your head. I say “I can only imagine”, because you seem to be committed to putting what goes on inside your head to celluloid with your films, regardless of its coherence or watchability. There is only one phrase, six words, that can possibly describe the experience of Sayat Nova: “What is this I don’t even”. To try and comprehend a film like Sayat Nova, regardless of how many times you may have seen it, is to walrus a burning diamond so that your effigy of scarlet can defenestrate a cuckolding dirigible. That said, the film was just imperceptibly penetrable enough to where you could tell there was something to it, rather than just being complete and utter nonsense like half of Bunuel’s filmography. Still, merely the fact that this was only a scant 72 minutes in length could be viewed as evidence toward the existence of a benevolent God.
Plot? You want a plot? Go to the corner and slap yourself fifty-six times across the buttocks, you silly, misguided fool. Instead, I’m basically forced to go into the person the film is named after, and leave it at that; Sayat Nova, or King of Song, was an Armenian ashug, which basically means a traveling bard or poet, and what amounts to the film’s “plot” is an exploration of the man’s work, which purports to tell his life experiences, but fuck all if I know that that’s what’s going on. For a supposed biopic, this does not actually tell the story of its subject’s life. Hell, the version I saw had a disclaimer at the beginning of the film basically saying as such, and that this would not be a conventional biopic in any sense, but a realization of Sayat Nova’s mindset through a visual approximation of his poetry. So, does the film succeed at what it tries to do? I want to say… maybe? Yes? Really, I have no idea whatsoever; this was a shade above films like L’Age d’Or, and only then, to me, because it was at least interesting to look at. Basically, here’s Sayat Nova, the film, in a nutshell: take Inception, with its layers upon layers upon layers of meaning. Okay; now take everything that Inception had as substance or material, and replace it with whatever would be at the diametrically opposite side of the universe from it, but still keep the layers upon layers upon layers methodology. Okay? Now, take all that, and put it in a blender, run it for a good five minutes, and then lay out the contents on a flat, two-dimensional plane, so that all the little chopped-up bits are next to other little chopped-up bits. Now, call that metaphor or juxtaposition. That’s Sayat Nova, or at the very least, you have just created what must have been Sayat Nova’s storyboarding process.
I really don’t think this would have much of a chance of being made in today’s commercial day and age of filmmaking, where the only thing that matters to a good 95% of film producers and investment backers is the bottom line; this is not a film concerned with making a profit, or being commercially successful and viable, or even with being particularly watchable. It is concerned with creating a visual world, one that brings to life the thought process behind Sayat Nova’s poetry and life’s work. To that end, I’d say the film succeeds, though I’d only be saying it because I basically had little idea what was going on or, having no knowledge of Sayat Nova’s work, what anything was supposed to be alluding to, but I could tell there was meaning behind everything, or almost everything, that was happening, so there must have been something there… Right?
Arbitrary Rating: 6/10