Documentary about the famous Serbian athlete and movie enthusiast who made a feature film during the Nazi occupation of Belgrade and had some problems after the liberation because of that. Written by
Dragan Antulov <email@example.com>
Innocence Unprotected is the title of the film that Dusan Makavejev is making, and also the title of the movie that the movie is about. It's a unique documentary, and not just because of Makavejev's approach of (suffice to say) non-linear editing style and taking apart various forms of documentary into one whole. It's actually not that much different than his first two films, except that here he's not directing the melodrama part of the film but sampling it (a lot) from the original film written/directed/produced/starring Yugoslavian strongman Dragoljub Aleksic.
Saying exactly what it's 'about' would be a little wrong. On the surface, it looks to be about the making of the first Yugoslavian 'talkie' in 1942, during the German occupation without the Nazis knowledge of its production, and also its star and focal point Aleksic. Aleksic is one of those natural real-life characters, someone you'd love to meet for five minutes and maybe (or maybe not) want to stick around with. He was a cheerful, amiable narcissist who did lots of strongman things like lifting incredibly heavy objects (usually from his mouth), and dangling from very high places like tall buildings and flying airplanes. We learn that after years of having his associates film his performances, he decided to make an actual movie to accommodate a good lot of this footage (some of it, and I'm not making this up, him just flexing his muscles and singing on camera).
Along with interviews with surviving cast and crew members, and also Aleksic himself- who seems to always speak in the same "I shall now do this with my such and such dangling from a high-bar" tone of voice like a B-level Marvel comic hero- we see many clips from 1942 film. Seeing this is a real delight, since it's a completely, lovingly asinine melodrama where a girl is in such love of Dragoljub and goes on and on about his daring-do even when the girl's jealous guy is after her and ready to take apart the strongman. It's the kind of melodrama with one-note performances, usually in one-note speak, and at best competent and at worst horrid editing movements (there's even a laugh-out-loud moment in seeing Aleksic "swinging" from one building to another in a really bad model make-up).
Makavejev allows us to enjoy this adulatory fluff for Aleksic, because it is so pure an effort, not a truly bad effort but one made with naivite. This is a wonderful counterpoint to footage spliced in from destruction during world war two, tanks rolling into town and buildings falling from gunfire, and then, eventually, we learn that the film Innocence Unprotected was banned for a few years because it was such an affront to the government- a talkie black and white home-made picture for the people, shown at The People's Cinema, as opposed to a German color movie- and how that battle was one. And while Makavejev fixes the style as a character unto itself, the way that we see some scenes in the old movie colorized, it's really, intriguingly, about this guy Aleksic.
He's a natural at what he does. He swings high and balances himself with ease, and even after he was told after a bad accident that he would have to wear a metal corset forever he still does daring-do for the camera and for those interested. He commands attention when he's on screen, either talking or doing his wild physical acts. It's a hybrid history lesson, homage to melodrama, and a profile of a pure, simple talent-cum-folk-hero, with some characteristic politics and war thrown in, and it's one of the director's best.
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