In a period of the undefined past, Ashik Kerib is a wandering minstrel, a lute player and singer, who falls for a rich merchant's daughter, is spurned by the father (minstrels are poor functionaries), and is despatched, to wander for 1001 nights, but not before he's made the girl promise not to marry till his return. True to Paradjanov's unique method, the ensuing episodic tale of his meetings, experiences, difficulties and growth are told in a blaze of visually splendid 'tableaux vivants' and miraculous images and symbols (doves, swans, pomegranates), intercut with religious iconic works and artefacts, and overlaid with song and poetry. The source is a story by poet Mikhail Lermontov, but the interpretation, though grounded in the world of ethnic cultural references of the Turkish (Muslim) Azerbaijani peoples, is free, open, sensual and personal. There are coded messages of the tribulations of the artist here, and also a playful, mischievous comedic tone that allays any feeling of self-absorbtion on the director's part. Astonishing.