Dušan Makavejev  

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"As the man responsible for scenes of public sex on a boat adorned with a giant head of Karl Marx in Sweet Movie (1975) and of a Soviet soldier abandoned in Germany attempting to clean bird shit off the head of a giant statue of Lenin slated for dismantling in Gorilla Bathes At Noon (1993), Dušan Makavejev has helped the world survive the Cold War and its aftermath with his playful and subversive filmmaking." --Ray Privett [1]

"The ravishing sex reformer and radical in a provocative pose; composing sex and politics, it also reveals Makavejev’s “aestheticism”; the unexpected rabbit, the strong, two-colored vertical stripes and particularly the inexplicable empty frame." Amos Vogel in Film as a Subversive Art (1974) on the promotional poster for W.R.: Mysteries of the Organism

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Dušan Makavejev (13 October 1932 – 25 January 2019) was a Serbian film director and screenwriter, famous for his groundbreaking films of Yugoslav cinema in the late 1960s and early 1970s—many of which belong to the Black Wave. Makavejev's most internationally successful film was the 1971 political satire W.R.: Mysteries of the Organism, which he both directed and wrote. He was one of the leading practitioners of the European art film.



Makavejev's first three feature films, Man Is Not a Bird (1965, starring actress and icon of the "black wave" period in film, Milena Dravić), Love Affair, or the Case of the Missing Switchboard Operator (1967, starring actress and icon of the "black wave" period in film, Eva Ras) and Innocence Unprotected (1968), all won him international acclaim. The latter won the Silver Bear Extraordinary Prize of the Jury at the 18th Berlin International Film Festival. In 1970 he was a member of the jury at the 20th Berlin International Film Festival. In 1991 he was a member of the jury at the 17th Moscow International Film Festival.

His 1971 movie W.R.: Mysteries of the Organism (starring Milena Dravić, Jagoda Kaloper, and Ivica Vidović) was banned in Yugoslavia due to its sexual and political content. The political scandal surrounding Makavejev's film was symptomatic of an increasingly oppressive political climate in Yugoslavia that effectively ended the director's domestic career and resulted in his leaving Yugoslavia to live and work abroad in Europe and North America. Makavejev's next film, Sweet Movie (1974), was the first feature work that the director produced entirely outside of Yugoslavia (the film was made in Canada). Sweet Movie's explicit depiction of sex together with its bold treatment of the more taboo dimensions of sexuality reduced the size of the film's audience (i.e. it was largely confined to the art house context) and also resulted in the film's being censored in several countries.

After a seven-year hiatus in feature film production, Makavejev released the comparatively more conventional black comedy entitled Montenegro (1981). The director's next feature film, The Coca-Cola Kid (1985), which was based on short stories by Frank Moorhouse and featured performances by Eric Roberts and Greta Scacchi, is arguably his most accessible picture.

Makavejev appears as one of the narrators in the 2007 Serbian documentary film Zabranjeni bez zabrane (Banned without being banned), which gives profound insight into the history and the nature of Yugoslav film censorship through its investigation of the country's distinctive political-cultural mechanisms for unofficially banning politically controversial films. The film contains original interviews with key filmmakers from the communist era.

Opinions and Bosnia

In 1993 Makavejev wrote and appeared in a half hour televised Opinions lecture in Britain, produced by Open Media for Channel 4 and subsequently published in The Times. Makavejev speaks of himself as a citizen of the world but "of the leftovers of Yugoslavia too". He cites Jacques Tourneur’s Hollywood horror classic Cat People as one of the rare films in the history of the cinema that mention Serbs, "a people from an obscure region who were haunted by evil; when hurt they turn into ferocious cats, like panthers, and killed those whom they thought to be the source of hurt of rejection". He comments on the division of Bosnia on ethnic lines:

"Creators of nationalist myths, both Serbs and Croats, came from the same mountainous region that was probably the source of this Hollywood story. Before the armed conflict, these people were whipping up nationalist fever and indoctrination until conflict became inevitable and both nations were trapped in a bloody embrace...How long will it take for an ethnically "clean" state for every single person who miraculously stays alive? A state for each family, a state for the father in case he is a Croat, a state for the mother in case she is a Muslim, a state for the daughter in case she is a Yugoslav, a state for the son in case he is a Serb, a specific flag for the dog, a currency for the cat."


Makavejev directed the following feature films:

  • Man is Not a Bird (1965); Writer: Makavejev; Assistant Director: Kokan Rakonjac; Director of Photography: Aleksandar Petković; Editor: Ljubiša Nešić
  • Love Affair, or the Case of the Missing Switchboard Operator (1967); Writer: Makavejev; Assistant Directors: Branko Vučićević and Želimir Žilnik; Director of Photography: Aleksandar Petković; Editor: Katarina Stojanović
  • Innocence Unprotected (1968); Writer: Makavejev; Assistant Director: Branko Vučeićević; Director of Photography: Branko Perak; Editor: Ivanka Vukasović
  • W.R.: Mysteries of the Organism (1971); Writer: Makavejev; Assistant Director: Bojana Marijan; Directors of Photography: Aleksandar Petković and Predrag Popović; Editor: Ivanka Vukasović
  • Sweet Movie (1974); Writer: Makavejev; Assistant Directors: Arnie Gilbert, Fernand Moszkowicz, Claire Denis, and Bojana Marijan; Director of Photography: Pierre Lhomme; Camera: Yann Le Masson; Editor: Yann Dedet
  • Montenegro (film), (or "Pigs and Pear (1981): Writer: Makavejev; Assistant Directors: Bojana Marijan and Arnie Gelbart; Director of Photography: Tomislav Pinter; Editor: Sylvia Ingermarsson
  • Coca-Cola Kid (1985): Writer: Frank Moorhouse (based on his short stories); Assistant Director: Bojana Marijan and Phil Rich; Director of Photography: Dean Semler; Editor: John Scott
  • Manifesto (1988): Writer: Makavejev; Assistant Director: Dejan Karaklajić; Director of Photography: Tomislav Pinter; Editor: Tony Lawson.
  • Gorilla Bathes at Noon (1992): Writer: Makavejev; Directors of Photography: Aleksandar Petković and Miodrag Miloošević; Editors: Vuksan Lukovac and Vladimir Milenković
  • Hole in the Soul (1993): Writer: Makavejev; Assistant Director: Mladen Mitrović; Director of Photography: Rade Vladić; Camera: Les Blank, Peter Lang, and Alexander Calzatti
  • Danish Girls Show Everything (1996) "Dream" segment

Makevejev made a number of short films, key among them:


See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Dušan Makavejev" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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