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Dusan Makavejev: Free Radical - Eclipse Series 18

 

 Man Is Not a Bird (1965)

 

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

 

Innocence Unprotected (1968)

 

There’s never been another filmmaker quite like Dušan Makavejev. Even in the 1960s, when all of cinema’s rules seemed to be breaking down and artists such as Godard, Cassavetes, and Marker were dissolving the boundary between fiction and documentary, Yugoslavia’s Makavejev stood alone. His films about political and sexual liberation were revolutionary, raucous, and ribald. Across these, his wild, collagelike first three films, Makavejev investigates—with a tonic mix of earnestness and whimsy—love, death, and work; the legacy of war and the absurdity of daily life in a Communist state; criminology and hypnosis; strudels and strongmen.

Titles

 


 

Man Is Not a Bird (1965)
Man Is Not a Bird is an antic, free-form portrait of the love lives of two less-than-heroic men who labor in a copper factory. For this first feature, following years of making documentaries and experimental shorts, Dusan Makavejev and his crew set up shop in Bor, a mining town in the mountains near Yugoslavia’s border with Bulgaria, interviewing the workers in the region and even shooting footage inside the local ore factories. Yet the result is hardly a staid tribute to the working class. Also featuring seductive Milena Dravic, who would go on to star in Makavejev’s groundbreaking WR: Mysteries of the Organism, Man Is Not a Bird is one of cinema’s most assured and daring debuts.

Love Affair, or the Case of the Missing Switchboard Operator (1967)
In outline, this is the story of the tragic romance between a young telephonist (Eva Ras) and a middle-aged rodent sanitation specialist (Slobodan Aligrudic) in Belgrade. Yet in Dusan Makavejev’s manic hands, this second feature becomes an endlessly surprising, time-shifting exploration of love and freedom. Featuring interludes of interviews with a sexologist and a criminologist, as well as some of the most elegant dramatic filmmaking of the director’s career,_ Love Affair,_ based on a true incident, further demonstrated Makavejev’s adeptness at mixing and matching genres, and his odd, sophisticated humanism

Innocence Unprotected (1968)
This utterly unclassifiable film is one of Makavejev’s most freewheeling farces, assembled from the “lost” footage of the first Serbian talkie, a silly melodrama titled Innocence Unprotected, made during the Nazi occupation; contemporary interviews with the megaman who made it and other crew members; and images of the World War II destruction, and subsequent rebuilding, of Belgrade. And at its center is a (real-life) character you won’t soon forget: Dragoljub Aleksic, an acrobat, locksmith, and Houdini-style escape artist whom Makavejev uses as the absurd and wondrous basis for a look back at his country’s tumultuous recent history.

Poster

Theatrical Releases: 1965 - 1968

DVD Reviews

DVD Review: Eclipse Series Eighteen from the Criterion Collection (3-disc) - Region 1 - NTSC

 

DVD Box Cover

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Distribution Eclipse / Criterion Collection - Region 1 - NTSC
Time: Respectively - 1:18:45, 1:08:33, 1:19:42
Bitrate:

Man Is Not a Bird

Bitrate:

Love Affair, or the Case of the Missing Switchboard Operator

Bitrate:

Innocence Unprotected

Audio Serbo-Croatian (Dolby Digital 1.0)
Subtitles English, None
Features

Release Information:
Studio: Eclipse / Criterion Collection

Aspect Ratio:
All Original Aspect Ratios - 1.33 for Innocence Unprotected and 1.66 anamorphic for other two

Edition Details:

  •  one page (for each film) of liner notes in the transparent case NOTE: 4-pages leaflet for Man is Not a Bird


DVD Release Date: October 13th, 2009

3 Transparent Keep Cases inside a Slipcase cardboard box
Chapters: 14, 13, and 13

 

 

Comments:

NOTE: The 3 feature films of this boxset are housed in individual slim transparent keep cases (see image above) and they are not sold separately at this time. I believe the films may have been released in Poland and other European countries in alternate DVD editions (PAL format) but may be making their DVD debut in English friendly digital here in Eclipse Series 18: Dusan Makavejev: Free Radical.

All three are in their original aspect ratios (1.66 anamorphic for both Man Is Not a Bird + Love Affair, or the Case of the Missing Switchboard Operator) and the 1.33 title, Innocence Unprotected, is NOT pictureboxed transferred (see our full description of 'pictureboxing' in our Kind Hearts and Coronets review). Each are single-layered, and coded for Region 1 in the NTSC standard. The transfers are progressive. The audio for all is original Serbo-Croatian mono and there are optional English subtitles. Avala Film Studios logos start each film and may be the transfer source(s). 

Image quality: Both black + white features show speckles heavier damage in the form of scratches and marks but are usually frame specific and don't hinder the visual quality as much while in motion. I think the captures below give a fair representation of how the DVD package looks - they are nor pristine and don't look to have had extensive restoration. Contrast is quite good on Love Affair but the color feature - Innocence Unprotected - is probably in the best condition.

Audio was original Serbo-Croatian monaural and at about the same level as the video - acceptable but not stellar and reasonably consistent. I noted no significant dropout flaws or excessive background hiss. The audio is supported with optional English subtitles.

 

As standard for Eclipse there are no digital supplements but some excellent liner notes readable through the keep case cover for each film. Man is Not a Bird has a 4-page leaflet included with an essay by Lorraine Mortimer author of Terror and Joy: The Films of Dusan Makavejev.   

I cannot compare Dušan Makavejev to any other filmmaker that I have been exposed to. 'Radical' seems as good a term as any with surprisingly obtuse analogies and tempo swings that include historical, political or subversive content.  I'd like to say these three shortish films have 'character' - as I might say an individual is "quite a character". Suffice to say the unexpected edginess and uniqueness were the most notable attributes in my first viewings of Makavejev's work. I had the most enjoyment with Love Affair  but suspect I will be revisiting all three on occasion as his 'loose canon' style is somewhat infectious. This is exactly what fans have come to expect from the Eclipse Series - exploring clandestine art films that purchasers would never have had the opportunity to be exposed to previously. For that - this package is another strong recommendation - and hopefully we will see further work from this unusual and gifted filmmaker soon.

Gary W. Tooze



DVD Menus



 

Slim Transparent Keep Case Cover

 

 

Covek nije tica (1965) aka Man Is Not a Bird 

Directed by Dusan Makavejev

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Slim Transparent Keep Case Cover

 

 

 

Ljubavni slucaj ili tragedija sluzbenice P.T.T. (1967)  aka

 

Love Affair, or the Case of the Missing Switchboard Operator

 

Directed by Dusan Makavejev
 
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Slim Transparent Keep Case Cover

 

 

 

Nevinost bez zastite (1968) aka Innocence Unprotected  

 

Directed by Dusan Makavejev
 
Subtitle Sample
 

 

Screen Captures

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

 

 

 

 

Distribution Eclipse / Criterion Collection - Region 1 - NTSC




 

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Gary Tooze

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