Friday, 14 August 2015
Parajanov as Leninophile?
James Steffen in his The Cinema of Sergei Parajanov notes that "Like many Soviet intellectuals, at various points in his life (Parajanov) expressed admiration for Lenin, at least in public". Steffen notes a few Lenin-related snippets: about a collage entitled Soviet Union combining representations of Stalin and Lenin with a picture of the Virgin Mary holding the infant Jesus, or the montage sequence devoted to the day of Lenin's death in The Flower on the Stone (which Steffen believes to be Parajanov's work and not Slesarenko's). Steffen states that this ersatz-Vertov montage sequence associated with the anniversary of Lenin's death is "surely the most bizarre and gratuitous moment in all of Parajanov's films". In his Minsk 1971 speech, (which Steffen believes to be one of the major causes of his arrest), Parajanov denounced the recent Lenin Jubilee as 'a colossal failure' saying that 'the least talented people made films about Lenin'.
These few traces of Parajanov's Leninophilia (or Leninophobia if you want to read them like that) can be added with a few more notes.
At a speech in a London Symposium on Parajanov a few years back the Ukrainian-Armenian film director Roman Balayan asserted that Parajanov was very much a Leninophile.
And here is Parajanov in his own words in an interview with Ron Holloway (in the same interview he damns both Stalin and Brezhnev):
I can't help it: I idolize Lenin. As a director, I have to admire his artistismus: his artistic impulses, his abilities as a speaker. His brain was magnificent, gigantic like that of a prophet. The world wasn't large enough for him. His artistismus once compelled him to climb onto an armoured car, as if it were a stage. He stood there like a monolith; he was a born actor. I appreciate artistismus, artistic talent. Politicians, friends, anyone can have talent.
Of course it is necessary to take what Parajanov said with a heavy pinch of salt. In any case Lenin could be said to have had (at least, posthumously) a habit of saving writers and artists from the NKVD whether by sheltering Aleksandr Wat or simply saving an exhibition from certain closure.
In retrospect it's a real shame that Parajanov never got to shoot one of those Lenin films. The Lenin trilogy of Sergei Yutkevich, that other Soviet dandy, would surely have an unbeatable rival today if that had happened.
As Parajanov would often repeat: Communism is the power of the Soviets plus Parajanovication'!