Filmed in wartime and edited under candlelight, Vartanov‘s rarely-seen masterwork is about his friendship with the genius Parajanov who was imprisoned, “at the height of his fame and artistic powers”, for the outspoken criticism of the Soviet regime.
Vartanov resurrects the scene from his banned 1969 film The Color of Armenian Land where Parajanov concocts the chef-d’oeuvre Sayat Nova (The Color of Pomegranates) — widely regarded as one of the greatest films of all time — then reveals a shocking secret request Parajanov had sent to him in an unpublished 1974 letter from the Ukrainian prisons.
Vartanov’s camera documents Parajanov’s staggering last day at work in 1990 during the making of the unfinished Confession — the original camera negative of which survives in Parajanov: The Last Spring — as Parajanov comments on this cherished autobiographical work.
The foremost achievement of The Last Spring, emphasized by the American and European critics, is Vartanov’s exquisite wordless montage that “evoked the very soul” of Parajanov, and earned the praise of many of cinema’s greatest masters, such as Martin Scorsese and Francis Ford Coppola.
The Last Spring is the final film of the trilogy that includes The Color of Armenian Land — for which Vartanov was blacklisted in 1969 because he had refused to delete the scenes with Parajanov and the painter Minas (assassinated in 1975) — and Minas: A Requeim (1989).
The Last Spring caused a sensation at its premiere in Russia, Ukraine, and Armenia, won the Russian Academy of Cinema Arts Award, and influenced numerous future books, writings and films, not least because Vartanov had demystified Parajanov’s misunderstood cinematic language with wise and brief narration.
The legendary Tonino Guerra, the screenwriter of Fellini’s Amarcord, Antonioni’s Blowup and Tarkovsky’s Nostalghia, attended the Russian premiere of Paradjanov: The Last Spring and wrote: “Vartanov’s film…filled me with strength to resume the way of the magnificent tale that the Maestro had taken…”
Academy Award-winning master Francis Ford Coppola (The Godfather) wrote: “…Vartanov’s film Parajanov: The Last Spring was created under prohibitive conditions and yet exemplifies the power of art over any limitations.”
The Los Angeles Times review noted that: “Vartanov’s superb Parajanov: The Last Spring…is exquisitely interleaved to evoke the very soul” of genius.
ALL MOVIE GUIDE
FINNISH FILM ARCHIVE
“This film is a gift… a treasure for the soul… Here, the art of cinema reveals its very best qualities…”
— ALEKSANDR GORDON
(co-director of Andrei Tarkovsky’s Killers)
“I saw that Paradjanov wasn’t alone, he had Vartanov, like Jean Vigo who had Boris Kaufman…”
— LUCE VIGO
“A spiritual journey into the evolution of the creative mind of one of the greatest filmmakers of our time…”
— NATIONAL GALLERY OF ART (Washington)
“To come up with this approach, to construct it in this way, find words like this…could have done only a true friend and a real artist.”
— NORA VERKHOVETZ, Kovcheg (Ukraine)
“And when Vartanov went up on stage after the film had ended, I saw tears in the eyes of many in the theater…”
— GALINA STOLIN, Panorama (Russia)
“It’s the first film…successful in presenting the Genius…seen with the eyes of Mikhail Vartanov’s heart and gifted to the spectators… It’s been a long time since the walls of the House of Cinema heard such sincere ovations of the audience.”
— VLADIMIR BADASIAN, Respublica (Armenia)
“The (audience in the) theater was left breathless and then gave the film’s author a 15 minute standing ovation…And I, with everyone, left the theater completely shaken.”
—SAMVEL SHAKHBAZIAN (poet)
“I wholeheartedly support the restoration of Parajanov: The Last Spring. We have to make sure that the work of seminal artists like Vartanov is preserved… His films, made…under the harshest conditions… are crucial to the important heritage of world cinema.”
(Academy Award ® nominee, Chairwoman of European Film Academy)
Still Photography by:
55 minutes, 35mm, 1500m, 6 reels
Kodak color/black and white. 1.37:1
Russian, Armenian, Ukrainian, Georgian with
English subtitles (Spanish and Polish also available)
Varda Nova Films [Armenia]
Paradjanov-Vartanov Institute [USA]
501 Movie Directors, UK
A Short History of Film, US
The Last Spring | Параджанов: Последняя весна | Փարաջանով: Վերջին Գարուն