Herb Shellenberger

Sergei Parajanov & Dodo Abashidze's Ashik Kerib (1988)
August 17, 2013
International House Philadelphia
Philadelphia, PA, US

Part of Sergei Parajanov: Surrealist Poet of Soviet Cinema
Introduction by James M. Steffen, author of
The Cinema of Sergei Parajanov

Parajanov’s last completed film was dedicated to his friend Andrei Tarkovsky who died two years earlier. It is a retelling of a popular romantic myth in Azerbaijani culuture with music and color playing important roles. The Ashik Kerib wants to marry his beloved, but her father opposes since Kerib is poor and he expects rich prospects for his “daughter from heaven.” She vows to wait for him for a thousand days and nights until he comes back with enough money to impress her father. He sets out on a journey to gain wealth and encounters many difficulties.

In recounting Mikhail Lermontov’s fable, Paradjanov dispenses with conventional storytelling devices in order to present a boldly unique cinematic experience. Glorious tableaux, exquisitely composed, choreographed and photographed, are combined with intertitles, images of early Russian artwork and a haunting blend of traditional and contemporary musical forms, all of which combine to form an enthralling and utterly unique cinematic experience.

Ashik Kerib, Sergei Parajanov & Dodo Abashidze, 1988, USSR, 35mm, 73'