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  Sweet Movie What Price Freedom?
Year: 1974
Director: Dusan Makavejev
Stars: Carole Laure, Pierre Clémenti, Anna Prucnal, Sami Frey, John Vernon, Jane Mallett, Roy Callender, Otto Muehl, George Melly
Genre: Sex, WeirdoBuy from Amazon
Rating:  4 (from 2 votes)
Review: It is the future, and the year is 1984. The Miss World contest is being televised and this year the winner gets to marry the richest man in the world as her prize, as long as she is a virgin. A gynaecological examination shows that Miss Canada (Carole Laure) is the winner, but her wedding night doesn't go too well, and she ends up on a journey of self discovery and degradation.

This surreal, anarchic, "anything goes" satire was scripted by the director, Dusan Makavejev, although to be honest it looks as though it was made up as he went along. Star Carole Laure was so shocked at how the film ended up and her participation in it that she fought to have it banned, but in the end not many people saw it anyway, and the film is largely forgotten today.

You can see Laure's point as far as the treatment of her character goes: she is constantly humiliated throughout. After her disastrous wedding night, where it is revealed that her new husband (John Vernon) is so rich that he has a golden penis, she is the victim of an attempted drowning by her mother-in-law, gets shut in a big orange suitcase and sent to Paris, where she is seduced by a Mexican movie star only to be sexually, er, stuck to him. And that's just the first half of the film.

Watching Sweet Movie is a bit like being taken to one of those confrontational fringe theatre plays, where radical politics are mixed with sex, scatology and the desire to shock you out of your complacency. Only this has a bigger budget (well, they were able to hire a helicopter, at least). Although it starts out fairly playfully, as it draws on there are parts which become uncomfortable to watch, such as the Marxist captain of a barge, who turns out to be like the witch who lived in the gingerbread house, luring boys into her clutches.

Add to this the footage of corpses of World War II victims, and the shock theatre troupe who welcome the near-catatonic Miss World into their lives, and you get a troublesome mix, especially as any semblance of plot flies out the window after a while. The message of poltical and sexual liberation gets lost in a series of jarring images like the shitting competition, a sugar-coated murder or a disgusting dinner sequence. How seriously Makavejev expected anyone to take this I don't know, but there must be more coherent ways of getting your point across. Still, it's never boring, even if it is, finally, tiresome. Also with: musical numbers; Laure covered in chocolate.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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Dusan Makavejev  (1932 - )

Experimental, satirical Yugoslavian writer-director, who got international attention with The Switchboard Operator, the Wilhelm Reich-inspired W.R. Mysteries of the Organism, the unpleasant Sweet Movie, the odd Montenegro and (for him) the rather tame Coca-Cola Kid. Went on to teach at Harvard University.

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