Canada, France, West Germany 1974
Pushing his themes of sexual liberation to their boiling point, Yugoslavian art-house provocateur Dušan Makavejev followed his international sensation WR: Mysteries of the Organism with this full-throated shriek in the face of bourgeois complacency and movie watching. Sweet Movie tackles the limits of personal and political freedom with kaleidoscopic feverishness, shuttling viewers from a gynecological beauty pageant to a grotesque food orgy with scatological, taboo-shattering glee. With its lewd abandon and sketch-comedy perversity, Sweet Movie became both a cult staple and exemplar of the envelope pushing of 1970s cinema.
Potentially one of the most scandalous films ever made - except that it has been little seen outside France and has not aged well. Seemingly completely episodic, the 'plot' follows the adventures of a beauty queen (Laure), a certified virgin who escapes a disastrous honeymoon with the richest man in the world to join a group of carefree sensualists. The latter are the once-notorious Otto Muehl troupe, who delight in pissing and shitting as a public spectacle. This is cross-cut with the journey of the good ship SS Survival (which sports Karl Marx for a masthead) on the Seine. Laure herself sought legal suppression of certain shots which, in their blanked out form, ironically suggest even more sexual activity on her part. Sadly, this highly idiosyncratic melange of sex and politics, for all its liberating pretensions, only served to put Makavejev's career back a good few steps.
Theatrical Release: May 1974 - Cannes Film Festival
DVD Review: Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC
|DVD Box Cover||
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|Distribution||Criterion Collection - Spine # 390 - Region 1 - NTSC|
Average Bitrate: 6.62 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s
NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.
|Audio||English (Dolby Digital mono)|
interviews with Makavejev and Balkan film scholar Dina Iordanova
booklet on Criterion Film Noir releases
Criterion states that this is a 'high-definition digital transfer, supervised and approved by director Dušan Makavejev' and I have no reason to doubt it. It looked like a standard 70's arthouse film but much cleaner, brighter and sharper. Criterion have preserved the original 1.66 aspect ratio - anamorphically with a crisp progressive transfer. I can't say much about the accuracy of the colors, but there are some moments where skin tones look quite red. Overall it visually looked exceptionally good though. It sports optional English subtitles. The English mono audio is unremarkable but probably close to the way it was produced - it sounded clean and clear.
Supplements include two very good new interviews (about 20 minutes each) with Makavejev and Balkan film scholar Dina Iordanova as well as a vintage TV spot of Anna Prucnal singing (5 minutes). I would have thought that as Makavejev was part of the DVD production that a commentary might have been in order - perhaps he could have explained much of his intent in some of the more Bohemian scenes.
The film wasn't really my cup of tea - urination, holocaust imagery, pretty weird stuff and I suppose I wasn't really in the mood. I can see how some judged it as 'art for arts sake' but I am glad that I did watch it and was able to form my own opinion. Honestly, I did get a few chuckles out of it. Those with 'risqué' taste may benefit from giving this an opportunistic spin.