Written by the Georgian director Sergo Paradjanov while imprisoned by the Soviet authorities between 1974 and 1977 - and filmed by his former cameraman Illienko - this bleak, sometimes elusive parable bears some resemblance to Paradjanov's renowned works in terms of its elliptical development, startling imagery and lack of dialogue. Shot in high-contrast b/w, however, the film adopts a more realist visual approach than the painterly tableaux of The Colour of Pomegranates, and the narrative has more flow. It starts with Solovyov on the run, taking refuge inside a metal hammer and sickle monument. The mother of a boy who plays there comes to his aid - and falls in love - until the son betrays him to the authorities. Back in prison he attempts suicide, only to be rescued from the dead at the morgue because of a crude blood transfusion from his accompanying prison guard, and is thus indebted... Despite its enigmatic nature, the film has a real and direct power thanks to Solovyov's haunting, cadaverous performance. Some searing images, too - not least that of swans, lured by the gleam of water to land on a washed down prison yard amid the baying inmates.