The Rhythm of the Universe:
The Short Films of Artavazd Peleshian
from Peleshian's "The Seasons"
(used with permission from Yerevan Film Studio)

An Artavazd Peleshian Filmography

Nachalo (Beginning) - 9min. 1967
My (We) - 30 min. 1969
Obitateli (The Inhabitants) - 10 min.  1970
Vremena Goda (Seasons) - 30 min.   1975
Nash Vek (Our Century) 30 - 50 min.  1982-92
Konets (End) - 10 min.   1992
Zhizn' (Life) - 10 min.   1993
It is really an impossible task to try to convey the simple greatness of Armenian director Artavazd Peleshian's films, which have remained essentially unknown to the world at large. The great director Sergei Paradjanov (also of Armenian descent) called Peleshian one of the few authentic geniuses of cinema. His films (most of them 30 minutes or less) really have to be seen to be believed, and it is quite incredible that they are not available for viewing. (We had to get them directly from the Armenian film studio in Yerevan). Along with Godfrey Reggio's Koyaanisqatsi, these films have to be considered the greatest ever made in the history of cinema. Peleshian, like Reggio, is classified often as an experimental documentary filmmaker. And like Reggio, Peleshian also uses a kind of technique, which strives for the "view from above". The fact that his films are actually successful in this "view from above" without the slightest hint of pretension or conceit shows his pure dedication to spirituality.

The greatness of Peleshian's cinema lies in the fact that it is built entirely on the intuitive association between the images. In other words, it utilizes the ability of the spirit to "understand" reality instead of the ability of the brain/intellect. Since the intellect's capacity for understanding always remains linear and limited to the low earthly plane, the works of the intellect are flat, shallow and "entertaining". The spirit of man, on the other hand, possesses the ability to reach into the invisible layers of reality and therefore the works of the spirit are multi-layered and challenging. It is the tell-tail sign of today's all-pervasive decay that the works of the spirit are generally ignored, while the works of the intellect are not only prefered, but even held up as examples of "greatness" in art. All the more precious then are the few (too few!) truly great works of art. Among them, the films of Peleshian occupy a very special place.
Peleshian himself describes his method as "distance montage" (montage is the piecing together of various fragments of footage - either archival or original). His approach may also be called the intuitive or the spiritual montage. This demands from the audience the same capacity for spiritual participation in the experiencing of the film. Only then can we "understand" what the film was about. When asked about the meaning of his film "The Seasons", Peleshian said:
It is a unique feature of Peleshian's art that he is able to lead the viewer to a higher perspective on humanity, from which one sees all earthly life as if from above - that is , from an eternal perspective. Perhaps, this is why he has chosen the term "distance montage" for his cinema. In all of his films the presence of a Higher Power is palatably felt by those, who are spiritually open to It. Thus his film "We" is truly about us, all of us as a humanity: "The Armenian people are a 'we' that is just a piece of the larger 'We'." (Peleshian - ibid) Because of his method of montage as a way of creating films, Peleshian is sometimes compared with Eisenstein. But Peleshian insists that the similarity is only on a superficial level.
And so in his films footage, which might have appeared as ordinary or familiar or merely interesting on its own, becomes completely new, fresh and incredibly moving. The key to this transformation of the footage is the inner state of the director, which he is then able to reveal in an outward form. And this task can only be accomplished by the intuition of the spirit (the intellectual piecing together of fragments will produce only cold intellectual results). This is what separates the genuinely great artists from the pretenders: the activity of the spirit or the lack of it. It is only the power of the spirit, which is able to transform the recorded footage into a moving and even a revelatory experience - through whatever method the director chooses. The Western audiences have already experienced something of this with the film Koyaanisqatsi. What "carries" that film is the director's spiritual state of profound anxiety for humanity, for our planet along with the unmistakable intuition that all of this is being observed and weighed from above - and through this all footage (even ordinary stock footage) is transformed and uplifted to a level where it becomes a deeply significant experience for the viewer. And just as in Koyaanisqatsi, in Peleshian's films the choice of music plays a major role in this process of transformation. In fact, it can be stated that the measure of any filmmaker is the degree of his sensitivity to music and to sounds in general. Here too Peleshian shows himself to be unsurpassed.
In his films Peleshian is able to achieve moments of such pure transcendency as have never been seen on screen before.
To not only sense, but to know and to understand the movement and the rhythm of the universe, every human being at this time is presented with an opportunity to aquire the Knowledge revealed in the book "IN THE LIGHT OF TRUTH: THE GRAIL MESSAGE" by Abd-ru-shin.