Dusan Makavejev was a Serbian filmmaker known for his provocative and subversive approach to filmmaking. 

He was a key figure in the Yugoslav Black Wave movement of the 1960s and 70s, which sought to challenge the prevailing socialist realism of the time.

Makavejev’s films often dealt with taboo subjects such as sexuality, politics, and religion, and frequently blended documentary and fictional elements. 

Makavejev’s films are a unique and powerful blend of politics, sexuality, and surrealism. 

They challenge conventional ideas and push the boundaries of what is acceptable in cinema, making them a must-watch for anyone interested in the art of film.

Best Movies Directed by Dusan Makavejev

Let’s take a look!

1. WR: Mysteries of the Organism (1971)

“WR: Mysteries of the Organism” is a 1971 film directed by Yugoslavian filmmaker Dusan Makavejev.

The film is a hybrid of documentary and fiction, and combines various elements such as archival footage, interviews, and dramatic reenactments to explore themes of sexuality, politics, and ideology. Here are some key aspects of the film:

Sexual Liberation: The film explores themes of sexual liberation and the body as a site of political struggle.

It features interviews with real-life figures such as Wilhelm Reich, a psychoanalyst who believed in sexual freedom and liberation from social repression, and Tuli Kupferberg, a counterculture figure who co-founded the band The Fugs.

Marxist Critique: The film also critiques Marxism, particularly the idea of the state as the means of achieving socialist goals. The film juxtaposes the ideas of Reich and Marxist theory, with Reich’s ideas about sexual liberation and individual freedom ultimately triumphing over Marxist ideology.

Experimental form: “WR: Mysteries of the Organism” is known for its experimental form, which includes elements such as fragmented editing, juxtaposed imagery, and surreal imagery.

The film uses collage and montage techniques to create a complex and multifaceted view of the world, blurring the lines between reality and fiction.

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WR: Mysteries of the Organism (The Criterion Collection) [DVD]
  • WR: Mysteries of the Organism (Criterion Collection) - DVD Used Like New
  • Milena Dravic, Ivica Vidovic, Jagoda Kaloper (Actors)
  • Dusan Makavejev (Director) - Dusan Makavejev (Writer)
  • English (Subtitle)
  • English (Publication Language)

   

2. Love Affair, or the Case of the Missing Switchboard Operator (1967)

“Love Affair, or the Case of the Missing Switchboard Operator” is a 1967 Yugoslav black-and-white film directed by Dušan Makavejev.

The film is a mix of documentary-style footage, fiction, and social commentary, and it follows the love affair between a switchboard operator and a rat exterminator in Belgrade, Yugoslavia.

The film is notable for its unique blend of styles and its commentary on social issues such as poverty, sexuality, and the role of media in society.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rKOyHC1oUyY

It was banned in Yugoslavia upon its release due to its controversial content and political themes. However, it gained critical acclaim and recognition abroad, and it is now considered a classic of the Yugoslav Black Wave film movement.

“Love Affair, or the Case of the Missing Switchboard Operator” is a must-watch for those interested in unconventional and provocative cinema, as well as for those interested in the history of Yugoslav cinema and the social and political issues of the time.

Love Affair, or the Case of the Missing Switchboard Operator [Ljubavni slucaj ili tragedija sluzbenice P.T.T.] (Original program for the 1967 film)
  • Dusan Makavejev (director, screenwriter); Brank Vucicevic (screenwriter); Eva Ras, Slobodan...
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 05/17/1967 (Publication Date) - Avala Film (Publisher)

3. Sweet Movie (1974)

“Sweet Movie” is a controversial and surrealistic film directed by Yugoslavian filmmaker Dusan Makavejev and released in 1974. The film is divided into two separate but thematically linked segments.

The first segment, titled “The Capitalist Episode,” follows the exploits of a wealthy and eccentric woman named Anna Planeta, played by Carole Laure, who travels to Paris with a group of young children she has adopted from various parts of the world.

Anna is a former beauty queen and the heiress to a chocolate factory fortune, and she uses her wealth to indulge in a series of bizarre and hedonistic sexual encounters.

The second segment, titled “The Socialist Episode,” takes place on a ship sailing down the Danube River, where a group of revolutionaries led by a charismatic figure named El Macho, played by Pierre Clémenti, attempt to overthrow the ship’s crew and take control of the vessel.

“Sweet Movie” is a provocative and often disturbing film that explores themes of sex, politics, and power.

The film features graphic sexual imagery, scatological humor, and shocking violence, and it was met with controversy and censorship upon its release.

Despite its divisive reception, “Sweet Movie” has gained a cult following among fans of experimental cinema and remains a significant work of the Yugoslavian New Wave.

   

Sweet Movie (The Criterion Collection) [DVD]
  • Factory sealed DVD
  • Carole Laure, Pierre Clémenti, Anna Prucnal (Actors)
  • Dusan Makavejev (Director)
  • English (Subtitle)
  • English (Publication Language)

4. The Coca-Cola Kid (1985)

“The Coca-Cola Kid” is a 1985 comedy-drama film directed by Australian filmmaker Dušan Makavejev.

The film tells the story of Becker (played by Eric Roberts), a young and ambitious Coca-Cola executive who is sent to Australia to boost sales in the region. Once there, he meets T. George McDowell (played by Bill Kerr), a local bottler who refuses to sell out to Coca-Cola and instead produces his own brand of cola.

The film is notable for its satirical take on American corporate culture and globalization, as well as its exploration of the clash between traditional and modern values.

It also features strong performances from its lead actors and a quirky and offbeat sense of humor that sets it apart from more conventional Hollywood comedies.

Overall, “The Coca-Cola Kid” is a unique and engaging film that offers a fresh perspective on the cultural and economic tensions of the 1980s. It is recommended for fans of independent cinema and those interested in exploring the complexities of globalization and cultural identity.

The Coca-Cola Kid [DVD]
  • Side A: Standard 1.33:1 Color
  • Side B: Widescreen 1.85:1 Color (Anamorphic)
  • English language: Dolby Digital Surround
  • Subtitles: English, French and Spanish
  • Eric Roberts, Greta Scacchi, Bill Kerr (Actors)

5. Man is Not a Bird (1965)

“Man is Not a Bird” is a Serbian film directed by Dusan Makavejev and released in 1965. The film explores the lives of factory workers in a small town in Serbia, and follows the romantic relationship between an engineer and a young hairdresser.

The film is known for its use of non-linear storytelling, documentary-style footage, and satirical commentary on socialist society.

   

It also contains scenes of nudity and sexuality, which were considered controversial at the time of its release.

“Man is Not a Bird” is considered a landmark of Yugoslav cinema and a seminal work of the “Black Wave” movement, a group of Yugoslav filmmakers who challenged traditional forms of filmmaking and experimented with new styles and themes.

The film has been praised for its unique blend of documentary and fiction, its insightful commentary on human relationships and social structures, and its stylistic innovations.

6. Montenegro (1981)

“Montenegro” (1981) is a satirical comedy-drama film directed by Dušan Makavejev. The movie follows the story of a bored and wealthy American housewife who travels to Yugoslavia with her husband on a business trip.

There she discovers a world completely different from her own and begins to explore her sexuality and desires.

The film received mixed reviews upon its release, but it has since gained a cult following for its unconventional approach to storytelling and Makavejev’s use of provocative imagery and themes.

It is also notable for its use of non-professional actors, including the lead actress, Susan Anspach, who was nominated for a Golden Globe for her performance.

Overall, “Montenegro” is a unique and intriguing film that offers a satirical commentary on gender roles, class divides, and the clash of cultures.

Montenegro [DVD]
  • Susan Anspach, Erland Josephson, Per Oscarsson (Actors)
  • Dusan Makavejev (Director) - Branko Vucicevic (Writer)
  • Audience Rating: R (Restricted)

7. Innocence Unprotected (1968)

Innocence Unprotected is a 1968 documentary film directed by Dušan Makavejev. The film is a tribute to the first Serbian talking picture, also named “Innocence Unprotected”, made by filmmaker and actor Dragoljub Aleksić in 1942.

The documentary combines footage from Aleksić’s film with interviews with surviving cast members and other people involved in the production.

The documentary is known for its innovative use of editing techniques, including jump cuts and montage, as well as its use of humor and satire.

It also explores themes of censorship, propaganda, and the role of art in society.

Overall, Innocence Unprotected is a fascinating exploration of the history of Serbian cinema

Innocence Unprotected [VHS]
  • Ana Milosavljevic, Vera Jovanovic, Bratoljub Gligorijevic (Actors)
  • Dusan Makavejev (Director)
  • Audience Rating: Unrated (Not Rated)

8. Manifesto (1988)

“Manifesto” is a 1988 Australian film directed by Paul Goldman and written by Paul Goldman and Andrew Bovell.

The film is a post-modern satire that parodies various political and cultural movements of the late 20th century, such as feminism, environmentalism, and anarchism.

The film follows the story of a young woman named Candida who embarks on a journey to discover her identity and purpose in life.

Along the way, she encounters various characters who espouse different ideologies and philosophies, and she is forced to confront her own beliefs and values.

“Manifesto” is a witty and irreverent film that uses humor to explore serious and complex issues.

It is a must-watch for those interested in post-modernism, political satire, and social commentary.

It also features a strong performance by the lead actress, who captures the nuances and contradictions of Candida’s character with great skill.

9. A Hole in the Soul (1994)

“A Hole in the Soul” is a British television documentary directed by John Krish and released in 1994.

The film explores the world of television documentary makers, examining the impact that their work has on their personal lives and mental health.

The documentary features interviews with a number of well-known television documentarians, including Paul Watson, Nick Broomfield, and Molly Dineen, who speak candidly about their experiences working in the industry.

The film also includes footage from some of their most famous works, such as Watson’s “The Family” and Broomfield’s “Aileen Wuornos: The Selling of a Serial Killer.”

Through its interviews and footage, “A Hole in the Soul” offers a behind-the-scenes look at the documentary-making process, exploring the ethical and emotional challenges that filmmakers face when trying to capture real life on camera.

The film is widely regarded as an important work in the history of documentary filmmaking, and it has been praised for its honest and nuanced portrayal of a difficult subject.

3 Characteristics of Dusan Makavejev Films

Dusan Makavejev was a Serbian filmmaker known for his avant-garde and often controversial films. Here are three characteristics of his films:

Political commentary: Makavejev’s films often feature political commentary and social satire, often aimed at the Yugoslavian government and its oppressive policies.

Mixing of genres: Makavejev was known for mixing different genres, such as documentary, drama, and comedy, within a single film. He also incorporated found footage and other experimental techniques into his films.

Sexual and taboo themes: Makavejev’s films often dealt with sexual and taboo themes, such as pornography, fetishism, and deviant behavior. He used these themes to challenge social norms and explore the darker aspects of human nature.

3 Reasons Why You Should Watch Dusan Makavejev Films

Innovative storytelling: Dusan Makavejev’s films are known for their innovative and unconventional storytelling techniques. He often blends fictional narratives with documentary-style footage and uses non-linear storytelling to explore complex themes and ideas.

Political and social commentary: Makavejev’s films often contain sharp and incisive commentary on political and social issues of the time, particularly in relation to communism and socialism. His films are known for their subversive and satirical approach to politics and society.

Exploration of human sexuality: Makavejev’s films often explore themes of human sexuality and desire in a frank and provocative manner. He was a pioneer in depicting nudity and sexual content on screen, and his films are known for their daring and provocative exploration of these themes.

Overall, Makavejev’s films are an important contribution to world cinema, and offer a unique and thought-provoking perspective on politics, society, and the human condition.

Best Dusan Makavejev Films – Wrapping Up

To wrap up, Dušan Makavejev was a highly influential filmmaker known for his bold and often controversial approach to filmmaking. His films challenged traditional storytelling and pushed boundaries with their use of provocative imagery and themes. Here are some of his other notable works:

“WR: Mysteries of the Organism” (1971) – a highly experimental film that blends documentary footage, fiction, and eroticism to explore themes of sex, politics, and human nature.

“Sweet Movie” (1974) – another highly experimental film that explores taboo subjects such as incest, pedophilia, and capitalism.

“Man Is Not a Bird” (1965) – a socially conscious film that explores the lives of working-class people in Yugoslavia.

“Innocence Unprotected” (1968) – a unique blend of documentary and fiction that tells the story of the first Serbian sound film.

Overall, Makavejev’s films remain highly influential to this day and continue to inspire new generations of filmmakers. His willingness to push boundaries and explore taboo subjects has had a lasting impact on the world of cinema.