Dusan Makavejev, Eyebrow-Raising Serbian Director, Dies at 86 | Modern Society of USA

Dusan Makavejev, Eyebrow-Raising Serbian Director, Dies at 86

Dusan Makavejev, Eyebrow-Raising Serbian Director, Dies at 86

Dusan Makavejev, a Serbian director whose movies, full of politics, sex and metaphor, were hailed on the film festival circuit in the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s but also sometimes reviled, died on Jan. 25 in Belgrade, Serbia. He was 86.

Marija Nikolic Radonjic, head of the rector’s office at the University of Arts in Belgrade, where Mr. Makavejev studied directing, confirmed the death.

Mr. Makavejev was, as The Nation once put it, “the brightest star in the avant-garde firmament” in the early 1970s, thanks to movies like “Man Is Not a Bird” (1965), “Innocence Unprotected” (1968) and especially “WR: Mysteries of the Organism,” a brash hodgepodge that was a darling of the 1971 Cannes Film Festival.

That movie, incorporating Mr. Makavejev’s signature mashing together of documentary footage and fictional elements, invoked the ideas of the psychologist Wilhelm Reich (the “WR” of the title) to examine fascism, capitalism, sexual liberation and more. Vincent Canby, writing in The New York Times, captured Mr. Makavejev’s sense of politics and the absurd when he described a central scene in which a Belgrade beautician and Reich admirer thaws an uptight Stalinist by giving him the perfect orgasm.

During his break from filmmaking after “Sweet Movie,” Mr. Makavejev taught in Paris and at Harvard. His post-“Montenegro” films included “The Coca-Cola Kid” (1985) and “Manifesto” (1988).

Information on survivors was not immediately available.

Mr. Makavejev’s directing career was winding down by the early 1990s, but he remained full of ideas. In 1991, his “WR” was being re-edited, with his permission, so that it could be shown on British television as part of a series on censored films.

In an interview with The Independent of London at that time, he mused about a making a follow-up to the movie — “a sequel,” he said, “in which Milena, the main character, decapitated at the end of the first film by her lover, has her head sewn back on by surgeons and has triplets who go to Gorbachev’s Russia to visit the land of their father.”

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