man is not a bird (dušan makavejev, 1965)
Tuesday, February 07, 2023
This is the nineteenth film I have watched in "My Letterboxd Season Challenge 2022-23", "A 33 week long challenge where the goal each week is to watch a previously unseen feature length film from a specified category." This is the 8th annual challenge, and my fourth time participating (my first year can be found at "My Letterboxd Season Challenge 2019-20", the second year at "My Letterboxd Season Challenge 2020-21", and last year at "My Letterboxd Season Challenge 2021-22"). Week 19 is called "Yugoslav Black Wave Week":
This week's challenge is to watch a previously unseen film from the Yugoslav Black Wave movement.
I'd only seen one other movie from the Yugoslav Black Wave, Dušan Makavejev's WR: Mysteries of the Organism (not that I knew anything about the Black Wave back in the day). That movie was a startling mélange of sex and politics ... it's been 50 years since I've seen it, but I still remember the guy modeling for one of the Plaster Casters. Makavejev was considered a leader of the Black Wave ... WR was banned and he left the country for almost two decades, which I think gives a sense of how a movie like Man Is Not a Bird is critical of Yugoslav society and its socialism, enough so that film makers like Makavejev were unwelcome by the government.
Man Is Not a Bird is certainly interesting. Makavejev, like Godard, seems to be acknowledging cinema traditions while simultaneously tearing them apart. And, like Godard with Anna Karina, Makavejev is quite taken with the screen presence of Milena Dravić (who also appeared in WR). Her blonde hair always stands out against the dreary mining town setting. The film has two main storylines that have no clear connection, although the movie is never too confusing.