Skip to main content
Select Source:

Makavejev, Dušan

MAKAVEJEV, Dušan



Nationality: Yugoslavian. Born: Belgrade, 13 October 1932. Education: Studied psychology at Belgrade University, graduated 1955; studied direction at the Academy for Theatre, Radio, Film, and Television, Belgrade. Military Service: 1959–60. Family: Married Bojana Marijan, 1964. Career: Experimental filmmaker for Kino-Club, 1955–58; joined Zagreb Films, 1958; worked for Avala films, 1961; went to United States on Ford Foundation Grant, 1968; worked in United States, since 1974; instructor of film at various universities, including Columbia, Harvard, and New York. Awards: FIPRESCI Award and Silver Bear Award, Berlin Film Festival, for Nevinost bez zastite, 1968; FIPRESCI Award, special mention, Berlin Film Festival, for W.R.—Misterije organizma, 1971; Mostra Special Award, Sao Paulo International Film Festival, 1998.




Films as Director:


(shorts and documentaries):

1953

Jatagan Mala (+ sc)

1955

Pečat (The Seal) (+ sc)

1957

Antonijevo razbijeno ogledalo (Anthony's Broken Mirror) (+ sc)

1958

Spomenicima ne treba verovati (Don't Believe in Monuments) (+ sc); Slikovnica pčelara (Beekeeper's Scrapbook) (+ sc); Prokleti praznik (Damned Holiday) (+ sc); Boje sanjaju (Colors Are Dreaming) (+ sc)

1959

Sto je radnički savjet? (What Is a Workers' Council?)

1961

Eci, pec, pec (One Potato, Two Potato . . . ) (+ sc); Pedagoškabajka (Educational Fairy Tale) (+ sc); Osmjeh 61 (Smile61) (+ sc)

1962

Parada (Parade) (+ sc); Dole plotovi (Down with the Fences) (+ sc); Ljepotica 62 (Miss Yugoslavia 62) (+ sc); Filmo knjizi A.B.C. (Film about the Book) (+ sc)

1964

Nova igračka (New Toy) (+ sc); Nova domaća zivotinja (NewDomestic Animal) (+ sc)


(feature films):

1966

Covek nije tica (Man Is Not a Bird) (+ sc)

1967

Ljubavni Slučaj, tragedija sluzbenice PTT (Love Affair; Switchboard Operator; An Affair of the Heart) (+ sc)

1968

Nevinost bez zaśtite (Innocence Unprotected) (+ sc)

1971

WR—Misterije organizma (WR—Mysteries of the Organism) (+ sc)

1974

Sweet Movie (+ co-sc)

1981

Montenegro (Or Pigs and Pearls) (+ sc)

1985

The Coca-Cola Kid

1989

Manifesto (For a Night of Love)

1993

The Gorilla Bathes at Noon

1995

A Hole in the Soul (+ sc, role as himself)

1996

Danske piger viser alt (Danish Girls Show Everything) (co-d)



Publications


By MAKAVEJEV: books—

A Kiss for Komradess Slogan, 1964.

Nevinost bez zaśtite [Innocence Unprotected], Zagreb, 1968.

WR—Mysteries of the Organism, New York, 1972.

Shooting the Actor; or, The Choreography of Confusion, with Simon Callow, London, 1990.


By MAKAVEJEV: articles—

"Fight Power with Spontaneity and Humor: An Interview with Dušan Makavejev," with Robert Sutton and others, in Film Quarterly (Berkeley), Winter 1971/72.

Interview with R. Colacielo, in Interview (New York), February 1972.

Interview with G. Braucourt, in Ecran (Paris), September/October 1972.

"Let's Put the Life Back in Political Life," interview with C. B. Thompson, in Cinéaste (New York), vol. 6, no. 2, 1974.

Interview with Robert Benayoun and Michel Ciment, in Positif (Paris), June 1974.

Interview with Edgardo Cozarinsky and Carlos Clarens, in FilmComment (New York), May/June 1975.

"Film Censorship in Yugoslavia," in Film Comment (New York), July/August 1975.

Interview with F. La Polla, in Cineforum (Bergamo), June/July 1986.

"Innocence Unprotected," an interview with R. Stoneman, in Sightand Sound, July 1992.

"Nipoèem ne ugadaeš', u kogo v karmane ljagsuška," in IskusstvoKino (UR), August 1992.

"La vie en tant que 'remake'," an article in Positif, June 1994.


On MAKAVEJEV: book—

Taylor, John, Directors and Directions, New York, 1975.

On MAKAVEJEV: articles—

Wood, Robin, "Dušan Makavejev," in Second Wave, New York, 1970.

Oppenheim, O., "Makavejev in Montreal," in Sight and Sound (London), Spring 1970.

"Makavejev and the Mysteries of the Organism," in Film (London), Autumn 1971.

Robinson, David, "Joie de Vivre at the Barricades: The Films of Dušan Makavejev," in Sight and Sound (London), Autumn 1971.

MacBean, J. R., "Sex and Politics," in Film Quarterly (Berkeley), Spring 1972.

Vogel, Amos, "Makavejev: Toward the Edge of the Real . . . and Over," in Film Comment (New York), November/December 1973.

"Dušan Makavejev," in Fifty Major Filmmakers edited by Peter Cowie, South Brunswick, New Jersey, 1974.

"Sweet Movie," in Avant-Scène du Cinéma (Paris), October 1974.

Schaub, M., "Unbeschützte und verlorene Unschuld, Dušan Makavejevs Spekulationen," in Cinema (Zurich), vol. 21, no. 2, 1975.

Perlmutter, R., "The Cinema of the Grotesque," in Georgia Review (Athens, Ohio), no. 1, 1979.

Cavell, Stanley, "On Makavejev on Bergman," in Critical Inquiry (Chicago), no. 2, 1979.

Kral, Petr, "Perles et Cochons: Les Fantasmes de Madame Jordan: Montenegro," in Positif (Paris), March 1982.

Eagle, Herbert, "Yugoslav Marxist Humanism and the Films of Dušan Makavejev," in Politics, Art, and Commitment in the EastEuropean Cinema, edited by David W. Paul, London, 1983.

"Dušan Makavejev," in Film Dope (London), December 1987.

Makavejev section of Filmvilag, vol. 33, no. 8, 1990.

Forgacs, I., "Ezt mondta Makavejev. . . ," in Filmkultura, no. 12, 1993.

Cerneko, M., "'Big Mak', ili tragedija s èeloveèeskim licon," an article in Iskusstvo Kino (UR), January 1994.

Shaw, David, "The Mysteries of the Organism called Dušan Makavejev," in Suspect Culture (CN), Fall 1994.


* * *

Before making his first feature film, Man Is Not a Bird, Dušan Makavejev had developed his filmmaking skills and formulated his chief thematic and formal concerns by producing a number of 35mm experimental shorts and documentaries. His second feature, Love Affair, furthered Makavejev's reputation and situated him within a growing community of Eastern European filmmakers committed to exploring the potential of the film medium by opening it up to new subject matter and experimenting with non-conventional narrative forms. Love Affair deals with the romance between a Hungarian-born switchboard operator, Isabella, and Ahmed, an Arab sanitation engineer, and the breakdown of the relationship, Isabella's death, and Ahmed's arrest for her murder. However, this straightforward plot is only the skeleton which supports the rest of the film. Influenced by Eisenstein and Godard, Makavejev builds an elaborate, Brechtian amalgam of documentary-like examinations of rat extermination, interviews with a sexologist and criminologist, actual stock footage of the destruction of church spires during the October Revolution, as well as almost quaint digressions on how mattress stuffing is combed and how strudel is made. Makavejev questions the nature of sexual relationships in a changing, post-revolutionary, but still puritanical society by juxtaposing ostensibly unrelated images. For example, the razing of the church spires is intercut with and comments on Isabella's seduction of Ahmed and the destruction of his archaic sexual inhibitions.

Innocence Unprotected also manifests Makavejev's interest in the dialectics of montage, the ability to create new ideas by juxtaposing incongruous or contradictory images. In this film, Makavejev rescues a little bit of "unprotected innocence" from oblivion by incorporating the original Innocence Unprotected, the first Serbian "all-talking" feature, into a new cinematic context. This 1940s romance-adventure—filmed by a well-known local strongman-daredevil during the Nazi Occupation, censored by the occupation government, and ironically later denounced as being Nazi-inspired—is intercut with interviews Makavejev conducted with members of the original production crew as well as newsreel footage from the period of the occupation. Moreover, Makavejev hand-tints portions of the original film to contribute to the critical distance created by the archaic quality of the footage. Perhaps more than any of his other films, Innocence Unprotected shows Makavejev's loving interest in traditional Yugoslavian folk culture and humor.

WR—Mysteries of the Organism deals with the sexuality of politics and the politics of sexuality. A radical condemnation of both the sterility of Stalinism and the superficial commercialism of Western capitalism, WR is certainly a document of its time—of Yugoslavia attempting to follow its "other road" to socialism while America fights in Vietnam and Moscow invades Czechoslovakia. Makavejev looks to Wilhelm Reich (the "WR" of the title) for enlightenment. Reich was, early in his career, one of the first to recognize the profound interconnections between socio-political structure and the individual psyche. His radical sexual ideas alienated the psychoanalytic profession and his unorthodox medical theories and practices eventually led to his imprisonment in the United States.

Although elaborate cross-cutting blends the two sections of the film, roughly the first half of WR is devoted to a documentary study of Wilhelm Reich's life in the United States. Interviews with Reich's therapists, Reich's relatives, even people who knew him casually, including his barber, are intercut with an examination of American sexual mores circa 1970 via interviews with Jackie Curtis, Barbara Dobson, one of the editors of Screw magazine, and others. The second half of the film is primarily a fictional narrative set in Belgrade, which concerns the love affair between a young female admirer of Reich (Milena) and a rather priggish and prudish Soviet ice skater named Vladimir Ilyich. Freed of his inhibitions by Milena's persistence, Vladimir makes love to her and then, unable to deal with his sexuality, decapitates her with his ice skate. However, after death, Milena's severed head continues to speak. Vladimir sings a song with a lyric written by a Soviet citizen critical of his government. WR ends with a photo of the smiling Reich—a sign of hope, a contradictory indication of the possibility for change and new beginnings.

WR was never released in Yugoslavia, and Makavejev made his two subsequent films, Sweet Movie and Montenegro, in the United States and Europe. Like WR, Sweet Movie has two parts. In the first a beauty contestant, Miss World, is wedded to and violated by Mr. Kapital and, after other humiliations, ends up in Otto Muehl's radical therapy commune. Miss World is taken in and nurtured by actual commune members who engage in various types of infantile regressions (including carrying their excrement displayed on dinner plates) as therapy. The second part of the film is an allegorical commentary on the East. A ship, with a figurehead of Karl Marx, sails about under the command of Anna Planeta, who seduces and murders young men and boys, while providing for their rebirth out of a hold filled with white sugar and corpses.

Montenegro continues this development of allegory in favor of Makavejev's earlier documentary interests. Marilyn, an American-born Swedish housewife, is lured into a world peopled by earthy and sexually active Yugoslavian immigrants who run a club called Zanzibar as an almost anarchistic communal venture. Like the heroes and heroines of Makavejev's earlier films, Marilyn cannot deal with her newly acquired sexual freedom, and she—like Ahmed, Vladimir Ilyich, and Anna Planeta—kills her lovers. Montenegro's linear plot contrasts sharply with the convoluted narrative structure and elaborate montage techniques characteristic of Makavejev's earlier works. While being accused of making needlessly ambiguous films with scenes of gratuitous violence and sexuality, Makavejev has consistently explored the interrelationship of sexual life and socioeconomic structure while experimenting with narrative forms that challenge traditional notions of Hollywood filmmaking.

Makavejev's seventeen years as a "knapsack director," during his exile following WR, were echoed in films about displaced persons, immigrants, and "nowhere men in nowhere lands." As one of his characters says, "The place which is nowhere is a true home." Another character similarly notes, "Everyone has to come from somewhere," prompting a third to reply, "Not me! I come from here!" After Sweet Movie, several promising projects foundered in the choppy sea of international co-financing, until Swedish producer Bo Jonsson, visiting Makavejev at Harvard University, proposed a "high-quality comedy with a popular appeal and measured eroticism," in which the director could add his "little somethings." They soon grew into the rich ethnico-socio-political dimensions of Montenegro (Or Pigs and Pearls). The pearl necklace of its Swedish-American heroine (Susan Ansprach) symbolizes her ego and commodity fetishism; "pigs" emblemise the funky, ego-despoiling, unbridled instincts of work-immigrants from Southeast Europe (promptly polluted by consumerism's teasing of real, biological, desire).

Makavejev's second comedy in the genre (comedy with psycho-political infill) came four years later, from Australia. The Coca-Cola Kid, not sponsored by that corporation's marketing division, concerns an enterprising young salesman who succeeds in prising open a tiny regional market, a sort of "last valley," hitherto monopolised by a local dynast's soft drink; but himself succumbs to its values. Though ten years in preparation with Australian novelist Frank Moorhouse, its Local Hero-type story and backwoods setting inspired less intricate detail, and a thinner intellectual texture, than the culturally mixed settings of Makavejev's richest films.

His long exile ended with Manifesto (For a Night of Love), by far the best of the art-house films funded, through the good offices of American Zoetrope's Tom Luddy, by Cannon-Globus (others were by Godard and Norman Mailer). As Bolsheviks of different classes and ideologies fumble their Revolution in 1920 Ruritania, Makavejev hilariously re-explores his abiding subject matter, shared with the Yugoslavian Praxis group of Marxist-humanist writers. His characters can only steer erratically between the four cardinal points of a spiritual compass: True Socialism (which Marxist bureaucratic classes too easily make oppressive), individualism (which Western capitalism makes smilingly rapacious); man's bodily instincts (commonly selfish and barbaric, pace Wilhelm Reich); and idealism (which may only camouflage the cold, abstract logic of power). Whereas "idealistic" Freudians (whether bourgeois or radical, or, like Reich, both) claim love and sex are natural but deny egoism and power, Makavejev understands that both instinct and idealism may spread, not just love and desire, but terror and violence. And after all, Mother Nature, like Anna Planeta, is a serial murderess: whatever lives will be killed, by something. Similarly, biological instincts involve, as much as sex, food; whence much play on bodies and nourishment. In WR, egg yolks, transferred unbroken from hand to hand, suggest an optimum of "communal kindness"; but even food may be over-refined (like, in Sweet Movie, consumerist chocolate, and the white sugar of revolutionary purity). Hence political history weighs like a nightmare on the minds of the living. And subsequent "tribal" massacres, in the former Yugoslavia and around the world, corroborate Makavejev's pessimism. Though faint hopes, and pity forhistory's victims, remain, his "laughter" at "mankind's follies" is more wistful, bitter, and tragic than many spectators perceive.

In his largely German film, The Gorilla Bathes at Noon, a Red Army officer, storming Berlin in 1945, suddenly finds himself in the reunified city near a Lenin statue, which he loyally pickets, as it is marked for demolition with yellow paint, like the egg on Marxism's face. This fantasy gambit presages a return to the Wit/Sweet Movie genre of allegorical cinema, although the plot becomes uncertain where to go. The problem, perhaps, was topicality, for the consequences of political collapse were not yet clear enough to work on. And perhaps Makavejev's cultural background, a sort of Freudo-Marxist-Marcusian humanism, uneasily mixing economism and instinct theory, and concentrating on capitalism, cannot quite get to terms with the wider resurgence of nationalism, ethnicity, and "tribal" psychology. Though to these things the films' human stories are very sensitive.

Some spectators find that Makavejev's mixture of caricature and pessimism rather freeze their "rooting interest" in his characters, compared with his early dramas. It is a perennial problem in "serious satire." Nonetheless, Makavejev's sparkling and poetic inventions make him Eisenstein's true heir and the great reinvigorator of "intellectual cinema," integrating montage editing as one instrument in an entire orchestra, with "non-synch" sound, voice-over, music, colour, calligraphic camera, comic symbolism, dramatic fables, and visual sensuality, all weaving arguments so sophisticated that Eisenstein's look prehistoric. Where Godard faltered and fell, the Nowhere Man from ex-communist former Yugoslavia continues to blaze new trails of "philosophical cinema."

—Gina Marchetti, updated by Raymond Durgnat

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Makavejev, Dušan." International Dictionary of Films and Filmmakers. . Encyclopedia.com. 19 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Makavejev, Dušan." International Dictionary of Films and Filmmakers. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 19, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/movies/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/makavejev-dusan

"Makavejev, Dušan." International Dictionary of Films and Filmmakers. . Retrieved August 19, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/movies/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/makavejev-dusan

Makavejev, Dusan

Dusan Makavejev

One of the most innovative filmmakers to emerge from Eastern Europe in the 1960s and 1970s, Dusan Makavejev (born 1932) had an anarchic streak that antagonized authorities in both the East and West. His 1971 film WR—Mysteries of the Organism, dealing with the career of psychiatrist Wilhelm Reich, has been a favorite of critics.

Makavejev was a native of the Communist nation of Yugoslavia and worked there for the first part of his career. His outrageous films breathe the spirit of the 1960s counterculture, and it is perhaps surprising that an artist who took the ideas of that era to their most daring extremes should have come from behind the "Iron Curtain" that divided the West and the Communist world. Yet he was an equal-opportunity satirist, taking aim at Western militarism and capitalist excess as often as he skewered Communist absolutism. Makavejev's works had sex and sexuality high on the list among their main themes; he saw sexuality as an unstoppable chaotic force that was inimical to the objectives of established regimes everywhere. Accordingly, some of his films had scenes that could be classified as pornographic, and they were banned in various countries. They seem to overflow with ideas, often containing multiple stories mixed with interviews real and staged, documentary-style footage, quotations from other films, and more. Makavejev was, in the words of New York Times writer Kevin Filipski, "one of the boldest, most anarchic filmmakers around, an honest purveyor of cinematic treatises that explore taboo topics in the political, social, psychological, and sexual arenas."

Saw Snow White in Original Run

Makavejev was born in the Yugoslav capital of Belgrade (now the capital of Serbia and Montenegro) on October 13, 1932. The man who shocked moviegoers with WR—Mysteries of the Organism was, ironically enough, first inspired by Walt Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs—the first animated feature in color. "I was five years old at the time, and this made me very proud. It made me feel this was made for me, for my generation," Makavejev told interviewer Ray Privett of Chicago's Facets Multimedia. He attended an English-language kindergarten in Belgrade, where he was also entranced by another pioneering piece of animation, Felix the Cat. Makavejev learned to speak several languages, and the films he would make as an adult were almost international in nature, switching among different languages through the use of subtitles.

Growing up amid the devastation of World War II, Makavejev would feature anti-militaristic themes in his films. He finished school after the war and enrolled at the University of Belgrade, from which he graduated in 1955. He majored in psychology, and the drives and compulsions hidden within the human psyche would also furnish material for his films later on as he studied with the intellectual descendants of the founders of modern psychology in Vienna, Austria. "We got Gestalt psychology, then later some Freudian stuff because we had a professor who studied in Vienna with one of Freud's pupils," he told Privett. Makavejev was influenced by the German-born Marxist philosopher Erich Fromm, who extended Freud's ideas into the political realm, positing freedom as a basic psychological state—exhilarating but terrifying enough that humans try to escape from it through authoritarianism and militaristic violence.

But the Freud disciple who influenced Makavejev to the greatest extent was the most unorthodox one, Wilhelm Reich. "I discovered Wilhelm Reich in the early '50s, and tried to read him, but I could not find anything. I didn't know he was in jail at the time," Makavejev recalled to Privett. Reich posited the existence of a physical force called orgone energy, expressed in human sexuality and emotion but also in the phenomena of the natural and celestial worlds. He and his followers were early exponents of what would later be called sexual liberation. Reich, who had emigrated to the United States, was harassed by the FBI and charged with making false medical claims for his "orgone accumulator" devices; he died in prison in 1957.

In the late 1950s, Makavejev attended the Academy for Theatre, Radio, Film, and Television in Belgrade. He had begun making films as a university student in 1953, and now he found work making documentaries and other short films for the Yugoslav state. One of them, made in 1959, was called What Is a Workers' Council? A stint in the Yugoslav army in 1959 and 1960 began to focus Makavejev's ideas, and he worked on scripts that explored the psychology of military organizations. His documentary career resumed after his discharge, and film scholars believe that, although his career took a drastic turn away from Communist orthodoxy in the late 1960s, he never completely renounced the Communist-realist style of filmmaking—most of his films had documentary elements or showed the influence of the propaganda classics of Soviet cinema. Makavejev married Bojana Marijan in 1964.

Took Advantage of American-Inspired Distraction

At the time, Makavejev was unable to realize his ideas within the restrictions imposed by Yugoslavia's state-run film industry, which banned nudity and even any expression of overt sexuality. In the late 1960s, however, the country did open up to some Western investment. This had cinematic ramifications: American film studios began making films in Italy to cut costs, resulting in the "spaghetti Western" phenomenon, and Italian producers such as Dino de Laurentiis began to move production to nearby Yugoslavia. The government, anxious for foreign investment, put the resources of the country's film industry at their disposal—and Makavejev stepped into the resultant suspension of the normal ways of doing things in order to make his first two films, Man Is Not a Bird of 1966 and Love Affair: Or the Case of the Missing Switchboard Operator of the following year. The films were never officially approved, but Makavejev made them under the radar of the authorities.

"I got my cinematographer and my set designer … and we said, why don't we start now?" Makavejev told Privett, recalling the genesis of Love Affair. They found three empty rooms in the basement of a studio building. "Some crew had recently left the place. We said, let's call the film 'Love Affair,' and the set designer wrote 'Love Affair Film Crew' on the door. We were there, just talking about anything." A middle-aged production manager in a shirt and tie knocked, and Makavejev feared the group had been caught. "We were all in our 20s and he was in his 40s." But the production manager, it turned out, was looking for work and signed on to Makavejev's still rather formless film. "He was a workaholic, so he found us…. We didn't have the heart to tell him that the production was not yet approved." The production manager reserved supplies, and shooting went on unimpeded. Officials "were too busy shooting this gigantic Hollywood movie that they either didn't realize or care what we were doing…. The people who did realize what we were doing loved us. We were young guys who were doing something interesting."

Man Is Not a Bird, with its comic story of a love triangle set in a Serbian copper mining town, was a relatively conventional piece of Communist filmmaking, but its frank treatment of sexuality pushed the envelope, and its mix of documentary and narrative elements were innovative. Its main character, a straitlaced engineer who has an affair with a local hairstylist but then loses her to a truck driver, was seen as a symbol of the ruling Communist order. But it was Love Affair that put Makavejev on the international cinema map. As the above description of its genesis indicates, it has a quality of being made up as it went along, something it would share with most of Makavejev's subsequent films. Its basic plot—a switchboard operator, Isabella, becomes involved with an Arab-born exterminator, Ahmed, who is later arrested for her murder—serves merely as the springboard for a whole collage of little stories and details, including digressions into rat control, the making of strudel, imaginary interviews with scholars including a sexologist, and footage of churches being destroyed during the October Revolution of 1917 that led to the founding of the Soviet Union.

Makavejev's next film, Innocence Unprotected (1968) was equally innovative; beginning with a Serbian romantic film of the 1940s, Makavejev superimposed interviews with the film's original makers, hand-tinted parts of the original black-and-white film, and added other elements in an attempt to bring out (or create anew) an anti-Nazi subtext in the film and perhaps to draw a contrast between imperialist power and local culture. Makavejev's reputation among international film observers was on the rise, and he was awarded a Ford Foundation grant in 1968—one of the few times he succeeded in tapping large-scale sources of arts funding in the West.

Released Unorthodox Reich Documentary

The shocking elements of Makavejev's WR—Mysteries of the Organism went a long way toward explaining the funding difficulties that would plague him for the rest of his career. The "WR" in the title referred to Wilhelm Reich, and part of the film consisted of one of Makavejev's typically freeform documentaries, tracing Reich's philosophies and his problems in the U.S., and included interviews with his surviving relatives. The film also delved into the U.S. student counterculture of the 1960s, with footage of demonstrations against the Vietnam War, and into pornography, featuring an interview with an editor of Screw magazine. Yet other strands were woven in; part of the film, set in Yugoslavia, is a fictional story of a female Reich admirer whose head is cut off (with a skate) by a Russian ice skater with whom she has had an affair. In the scene, her decapitated head is still capable of speech.

The sheer originality of WR—Mysteries of the Organism fascinated Western film critics, and the film was a staple of the university cinema series of the era. In Yugoslavia, however, it was not at all well received by the authorities. The film was never released there, and the Yugoslav regime turned up the heat on Makavejev and declared him an enemy of the state. "One day in '73 I went for a drive in my car and heard a strange sound," the director told John Petkovic of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. "The bolts on one of the wheels were unscrewed. I knew it was time to leave."

Relocating to Paris, Makavejev attempted to recapture the symbolic richness of WR—Mysteries of the Organism in Sweet Movie (1974), structured around a story of a beauty queen who is abused by her industrialist husband and finds renewal in a radical sex commune. Sweet Movie, with chocolate-drenched sex scenes barely distinguishable from those of many pornographic films, was banned in many countries and condemned by critics as over-the-top. Montenegro (1981), set in Sweden among a group of Balkan immigrants, fared better; it starred American actress Susan Anspach as an American-Swedish woman who becomes involved with the group. "I planned to place at the beginning of the film the following text: 'This film is dedicated to the new invisible nation of Europe, the fourth largest, of 11 million immigrants and guest workers who moved North to exploit rich and prosperous people, bringing with them filthy habits, bad manners, and the smell of garlic,'" Makavejev told New York Times writer Annette Insdorf.

But Makavejev was forced to range farther and farther afield in search of support from controversy-leery investors. A 1985 Australian film, The Coca-Cola Kid, floundered despite the presence in the lead role of Eric Roberts, brother of the famed American star Julia Roberts. Makavejev returned with the anti-Communist satires Manifesto (1988) and Gorilla Bathes at Noon (1993), but they did not find wide distribution. Makavejev made a living by teaching film courses, including one at Harvard University. In the 1990s he was frequently visible as an essayist, bemoaning the ethnic strife that resulted in the breakup of his native Yugoslavia. In London, in 1991, he agreed to camouflage two scenes in advance of a television showing of WR—Mysteries of the Organism, one of them showing a couple having sex at the Woodstock music festival. In 1995 he made a short documentary, A Hole in the Soul, that juxtaposed reminiscences of his own career with scenes of the chaos in the former Yugoslavia. He continued to live in Paris, and in the early 2000s he was reported to be at work on a new film entitled M-99.

Books

International Dictionary of Films and Filmmakers, Vol. 2: Directors, 4th ed., St. James, 2000.

Periodicals

Cineaste, Winter 2001.

Guardian (London, England), January 28, 1995; June 3, 1999.

Independent (London, England), April 5, 1991.

New York Times, November 8, 1981; April 29, 2001.

Plain Dealer (Cleveland, OH), May 1, 2000.

Online

"Dusan Makavejev," All Movie Guide, http://www.allmovie.com (December 20, 2005).

"Makavejev, Dusan," Facets Multimedia, http://www.facets.org (December 20, 2005).

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Makavejev, Dusan." Encyclopedia of World Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. 19 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Makavejev, Dusan." Encyclopedia of World Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 19, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/makavejev-dusan

"Makavejev, Dusan." Encyclopedia of World Biography. . Retrieved August 19, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/makavejev-dusan