Sweet Movie (1974)
Miss World Virginity, who is nearly mute, endures a horrifically kinky honeymoon but soon escapes to a scatalogically inclined commune in Vienna. Meanwhile, a madwoman pilots a candy-stuffed boat down a river. Yugoslavian director Dusan Makavajev intercuts these two wild tales with shocking footage of the discovery of mass graves from the Katyn Massacre.
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Too much of everything
the audience applauded
best movie i've ever seen.
I like movies that are aware of what they are selling... without [any] greater aspirations than to make people laugh and that's it.
It should surprise no one who has seen Sweet Movie that the film divides opinion. Precisely when the viewer's delight at the film's irreverent humour and carnivalesque whimsy threatens to overcome his sense of revulsion he is besieged with scenes of disgusting debauchery or stock footage of mass graves. The entire film is a deliberate affront to or subversion of cinematic conventions and societal norms. Familiar images, symbols, and scenes are smeared with excrement or defiled with incongruous sexual and violent overtones. An advertisement for chocolate becomes pornography, lovemaking an opportunity for murder, and the sacred blasphemous.The brilliance of Sweet Movie lies in its unrestrained creativity and its ability to induce paroxysms of laughter. It is the perfect antidote to the solemnity, melodrama, and mawkishness of popular cinema. Few directors possess the genius to conjure up a sugar boat or chocolate bath and even fewer the effrontery to incorporate these images into a film, particularly in the peculiar and outrageous manner that Makavajev does. Sweet Movie was destined to be censored or banned from the moment its conceit gave birth to a film. Indeed, Polish authorities found Anna Prucnal's (Anna Planeta) participation in the film so objectionable that they prohibited her from entering her country of birth for several years! The film centers around a few set pieces whose utter originality and depravity make them unforgettable. To avoid revealing too much about the film, I shall discuss one. The scene of the feasting orgy, at which the actress Carole Laure was so appalled she quit the production, is one of the most disgusting in the history of cinema. I consider this an achievement. The food and drink consumed at a feast is summarily expelled, vomited, or excreted at, on, or nearby the feasting table. A second childishness inexplicably possesses the revelers leading to incontinence, babbling, and egregious misbehaviour. Each excess is mimicked or met with an even greater one. The scene culminates in a few miscreants depositing their own faeces on platters and parading them around the warehouse to the merriment of all present. Sweet Movie is thus a film one can taste, smell, and feel. The film is besides so well-seen that the viewer, for better or for worse, cannot un-see it.Sweet Movie is not merely the expression of a chaotic explosion of creativity devoid of any meaning. Makavajev has messages for the viewer notwithstanding his extremely oblique way of communicating them. Capitalism, supposedly a superior economic system to communism, is represented as equally decadent and depraved, no less violent or deadly. The film is also an ironic indictment of the excesses of the free love movement, the feasting orgy a manifestation of the most hyperbolic and grotesque caricatures of its members. Our visceral shock at their licentious and intemperate behaviour exposes our moral hypocrisy for our shock is scarcely greater when presented with evidence of mass murder. Deplorable conduct and outright criminality, moreover, when presented in a pleasant manner, by way of a beauty pageant, for instance, or perpetrated by a person whom society has arbitrarily judged as reputable, such as an extremely wealthy man, is met with disbelief or entirely excused.Sweet Movie dredges up parts of our psyche that we wish we didn't have or pretend we don't and unflinchingly, even joyously, captures them on film. If the resulting concoction is sweet, it is cloying and disgusting. I consider it a masterpiece, a must-see for fans of art cinema and the bizarre.
This was the movie Makavejev made after his previous, WR:Mysteries of the Organism, got him exiled from his home country.I'm surprised this one didn't get him exiled to the moon.It is truly one of the most bizarre movies you will ever see, an orgiastic feast of sugar, blood, urine, faeces, vomit.It's a creative explosion, and ranks up there with Salo in terms of revolting content - in actual fact, it tops Salo. At least they didn't really drink urine.The story has two narratives: a beauty queen voted "best hymen" is urinated upon by a billionaire with a golden penis. A humungous black man takes her to his house inside a giant milk bottle and packs her up in a suitcase and sends her to Paris. There she has sex with a Latin singer and their genitals lock together. Somehow she ends up at a commune where men and women eat and spit food into each other's mouths, drink each other's urine and defecate onto silver dishes. The beauty queen is breast fed; indeed it seems that the purpose of the commune is to help people revert to childhood; one man is naked and has food rubbed all over his body while he urinates to the applause of his audience.The beauty queen ends up acting in an ad for chocolate sauce where she is covered, completely naked, in the stuff, writhing around as though masturbating.And I haven't even gotten to the other part of the story yet: a woman piloting a boat with Karl Marx's image on the front filled with sugary treats, luring men and boys to their death inside. At one point, in what may be the movie's most controversial scene, boys no older than twelve sit stationary while she dances almost naked, grinding her genitals on one boy's forehead.I may have little idea what all this means, but I've certainly never forgotten it, or failed to be enraptured by it.
I must say that this film is nothing like what I expected. It seems to be a film-play commentary on the subjects of sexual boundaries and Marxism.The importance of virginity, the bizarre nature of water sports, and a naked starlet covered in liquid chocolate. Captain Anna Planeta makes her way through the canals of Amsterdam on her ship Survival, a quasi-communist, sugar soaked den of debauchery and murder. She picks up the hitchhiking Potempkin, and declares him her sexual proletariat.Meanwhile Miss World 1984 after being traumatized by golden phallus is karate-chopped by a large black man, packed into a suitcase and shipped to Paris, where she engages in public sex, ends up traumatized as a result, and is shipped off to a Therapie-Commune for compassionate care while she recovers. Here we find a group of people who seek therapy in all sorts of overt sexual, natal, and scatological situations. There is actually a pooping contest! Meanwhile Captain Anna Planeta has managed to entice some 10 year old boys onto Survival, and in a ribbon-suit that would make Sam Lowry of Brazil envious, she proceeds to seduce the children! Very dangerous film-making, even by todays standards. According to the actress who played the seductress, the scene was enough to cause a scandal in her home country of Poland, getting her banned for 7 years.Intersperse all this with actual footage of the exhumations of the mass graves of the Soviet Katyn Massacre, and there you have it in a nutshell.The term Art House shocker has never had a more appropriate film behind it, and I have seen a lot of them. Not for everyone, but certainly for the avid Art-cinema fan.
When I saw "Montenegro" all those years ago, it never really occurred to me that such a fantastic, idiosyncratic, and mysterious movie would actually come from a director that made other movies, too. It's just one of those things where each movie seems so ultimately different that it isn't feasible that there could be more of the same."Sweet Movie", to put it quite simply, is about excess. It's the story of two women, one a psychotic roaming candy-making pedophile boat woman, the other a delicate model/constant victim of sexual faux pas and impotency. The movie is filled with food, sex, and the gore that comes from food and sex. As the victimized woman finds herself in increasingly ridiculous situations and the psychotic woman puts people in others, many forms of abject art (revulsion/attraction, spewing and eating, killing and fornicating) keep a loaded bullet to the face of the viewer, mixed of course with a fair share of political asides and cultural themes (such as this: the fact that religious people appear scattered throughout the movie and are no more surprised by the activities of the characters than anyone else).This movie falls squarely between something you'd expect from Alejandro Jodorowsky and Juzo Atami. Unlike Jodorowsky's work, however, the symbolism has a lot of weight, and unlike Atami, there's a lot more ambiguity. Dusan Makavejev is one of the most post-modern filmmakers out there, constantly asking questions that previously didn't exist, and then proving that there's no answer to them. This movie comes closer to a strong theme than "Montenegro", but it's full of a lot of self-awareness that purposefully deconstructs the very notion of "theme". (A Mariachi singer in Paris is filmed, and through distraction is shown to be lip-syncing. Later in the film he's actually supposed to be singing--and again is shown to be lip-syncing.) In the end, it's hard to know what exactly to feel about this movie, minus revulsion for those of weak stomachs. It's both beautiful and intensely repulsive, which is a feat in either direction.--PolarisDiB