|Index||4 reviews in total|
For those of you who haven't seen a Makavejev film, this might be a nice place to start, as it actually has something of a linear plot and familiar actors (Molina, Serbedzija, Stolz, Anwar). Taken (rather loosely) from a short story by Emile Zola, this film is fascinating on a number of levels, not the least of which is that it was shot in what was Yugoslavia before the war. It's a beautiful country, just gorgeous. The plot is great fun- in a small village 'somewhere in eastern Europe', the King is coming for a visit and the secret police arrive to make sure the village is safe- which of course it isn't. Camilla Soeberg as the lead girl is lovely and strong, Alfred Molina as the head of the secret service is hysterical, Rade Serbedzija as the servant having it on with the masters daughter is fiercely sexual, and Eric Stolz as the gentle postman in love is terrific. There's not a weak link in the cast, and it's a joyride from start to finish. Featuring some surprisingly sexy scenes, Gabrielle Anwars first film role, and some wonderful hamming from Simon Callow (for whom 'over the top' is too tame a description) this movie is fun, sexy, and political, which are the hallmarks of Makavejev, one of the best and most original foreign directors around working today.
In 1920, in Central Europe, the tyrannical king (Enver Petrovci) of an
Empire is visiting the small town of Waldheim. While a group of
revolutionaries plot to kill the despotic king, his oppressive secret
service, leaded by Avanti (Alfred Molina), and the police force, leaded
by Police Chief Hunt (Simon Callow), organize his reception. Svetlana
Vargas (Camilla Søeberg), a member of a bourgeois family and abused by
her employee Emile (Rade Serbedzija), is in charge to organize the
attempt against the king.
"Manifesto" is an erotic and anarchic black humor comedy with a magnificent cinematography. The story has bizarre scenes, some of them non-sense and many good moments. People in town seem to breathe sex, and sexuality is everywhere. I liked the explanation of Police Chief Hunt that "we solve our cases even before they are cases". Camilla Søeberg is extremely sexy and beautiful, and with a wonderful body. This movie is the debut of Gabrielle Anwar, in the role of a sixteen years old orphan that sells ice-creams and accept golden coins for other services. My vote is six.
Title (Brazil): "Manifesto Por Uma Noite de Amor" ("Manifesto For One Night of Love")
A plot to kill the king in a nameless Middle European monarchy is foiled because, apparently, the conspirators can't tell the difference between assassination and sex. The film was meant to be an erotic comedy about how the spontaneity of life and love will always be at odds with the more orderly impulses of the intellect (in this case Communist doctrine following the First World War), but unfortunately the same sense of uninhibited freedom also conflicts with narrative continuity, since the plot has to be halted every so often for a roll in the hay. The handsome Yugoslavian settings recall a Brothers Grimm fairy tale conceived by Maurice Sendak (one of director Dusan Makavejev's acknowledged influences), but all the tempestuous passion looks more like lowbrow comic book lechery. As a result the film wavers uncertainly between playful political satire and cheap sex farce, without ever deciding which one it wants to be. The script, according to press material, was loosely (very loosely) based on a story by Emile Zola.
This film has some splendid images, some awful performances by some
very good actors, and a lot of the symbolic code that enabled Eastern
European directors to get their messages out under the censorship of
But far more interesting than any of these is the book Simon Callow wrote about the process of making this film called "Shooting the Actor," which is an eye-opening look into the process of film-making in general and this picture in particular. Even more stimulating is the fact that Callow's acid memoir is occasionally interrupted by stinging rebuttals from the director, Dusan Makavejev.
I think the book will do more to keep this film alive than any interest generated by the film itself. Experience both, and you will find the encounter very worth while.
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