Week 38/2023

This week, let’s dive into some (cinematic) controversies together.

On Tuesday, CINEMATEK screens The Colour of Pomegranates (1969), Sergej Parajanov’s exploration of the life and work of 18th-century Armenian poet Sayat Nova. The film would be received as highly subjective and hermetic both in the East and later in the West, partly because of Parajanov’s appropriation of a folkloric tradition. Today, the film is considered to be one of the most extraordinary visual poems in film history.

At the other end of the spectrum, there are films that get more controversial with time. CINEMATEK is screening Sous le soleil de Satan (1987) twice this week. The film is a meditation on faith, holiness and the nature of evil by one of cinema’s most notoriously tough directors, Maurice Pialat, and with none other than Gérard Depardieu in the leading role. It’s safe to say that Pialat’s methods of directing as well as his all-time muse, Dépardieu, did not age well. To his film being booed at Cannes at the time, Pialat simply responded: “If you don’t like me, I can tell you that I don’t like you either.” So perhaps he wouldn’t care anyway. 

To compensate for all of that masculinity, round off your week by (re-)watching Ridley Scott’s 1991 classic, Thelma & Louise, in Buda. Or should we say, Callie Khouri’s classic, as most critics agree Scott would have gotten absolutely nowhere without Khouri’s iconic screenplay. Not only the authorial question, but especially the plot of this road movie is sure to give you some interesting feminist food for thought because perhaps this film is also full to the brim with toxic masculinity. And, as some critics ask, should women’s emancipation really include guns and robbery? Julien Allen responds to this worry in Reverse Shot: maybe for once we should just allow women “to laugh and drink and fuck and misbehave—to share in life’s glories”, with or without guns. 

This Week