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William Henry Kerr
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The intercut story of two women: a nearly-mute beauty queen who descends into withdrawal and madness, and another who captains a ship laden with candy and sugar, luring men and boys aboard for sex, death, and revolutionary talk. The beauty queen passes from a wealthy husband whose honeymoon delight is to urinate on her, to a muscular keeper who punches her, stows her in a suitcase, and ships her to Paris, to a lip-synching rock idol with whom she has a love spasm, to an Austrian commune complete with a banquet of vomit, urine, feces, chopped dildos, and wet nurses. By then she's in a fetal position, until everyone's rescued by reminders that "it's just a movie." Written by
Miss Monde 1984:
[after a less-than-satisfying honeymoon with Mr. Kapital]
I expected something else to happen.
Nonsense, he's the most powerful millionaire in the world!
I think that for your own good, you better forget this marriage.
Miss Monde 1984:
Then I think I should get alimony.
I advise you strongly to refrain from thinking anything.
Yes, thinking can sometimes be a very dangerous exercise.
Very dangerous, indeed.
Miss Monde 1984:
This is insane!
Yes, maybe we should ask for a psychiatric examination.
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This is one of those great, "cinematic endurance test" films. It's really an amazing piece of cinema, maybe like Godard meets Jodorowsky. It is reminiscent of Pasolini's Salo, except it has more humour, and is nowhere nearly as bleak as that film. It has a well deserved reputation of being a shocking, polarizing film, but I think it's amazingly good.
Dusan Makavejev is a great director, and there are other things going on here aside from a boring, staid debate over Communism vs. Capitalism. The "commune" scene is what really pushes people over the edge here. The participants were an actual real commune run by artist/filmmaker/painter Otto Meuhl, and everything you see is pretty much real. Even though Dusan explains who they are and what they were about in the interview on the disc, it doesn't detract from the strangeness or the mystery of why they are there, and why Little Miss Virginity ends up partying with them. The scene is so wild that you can't believe it actually happened. Here we see people urinate on each other here, indulge in emetophilia and coprophilia. And later a couple makes love in sugar and chocolate. Does this sound interesting to you? It should, because the film makes other points as well. It's not just shock value here.
And despite the fall of Communism in Eastern Europe and the USSR, the film hasn't really dated. An absolutely fascinating aspect of this film is that it starts out as a 70's time capsule, at least that's what I thought when I started watching it. The Little Miss Virginity contest would have shocked audiences in 1974, but not today. But as the film progresses, it gets stranger, more surreal, many things are left unexplained, and the ending is very haunting. It is not a time capsule, but a continuously challenging bit of cinema. It has retained its power over the years (quite like its stoic, humourless cousin, Salo). The movie burns into your retina, and you can't shake it, no matter how "jaded and hip" you think you are. It's really quite outstanding, and I'm very thankful that Criterion released this film on DVD. It has been notoriously hard to find, especially in its uncut, uncensored version. Many films use the word "uncensored" as a marketing gimmick, but this film was really censored in many countries (and is still banned in many of them today). I won't go into any more details about it, other than you will never forget this film.
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