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Terror and Joy

The Films of Dusan Makavejev

2008
Author:

Lorraine Mortimer

Terror and Joy

The first book to examine the work of this radical, influential filmmaker

Dušan Makavejev is a filmmaker, teacher, and intellectual whose films intersect with major historical and political upheavals in Eastern Europe—World War II, the unification and breakup of Yugoslavia, and the fall of communism. Subversive and moving, his films remain touchstones for transcultural and political cinema. Matching the intensity of the films, Lorraine Mortimer takes a radically interdisciplinary approach in this first book-length critical analysis of Makavejev’s work.

Lorraine Mortimer has a profound understanding of Makavejev’s filmmaking, and she illustrates and explains his methods and objectives with clarity, passion, verve, and a sense of humor. Terror and Joy is likely to spur many retrospective screenings of Makaveyev’s oeuvre, further research on his innovative film structures, and increased attention to his pioneering work in courses on East European cinema and on film theory.

Herbert Eagle, University of Michigan

Dušan Makavejev is a filmmaker, teacher, and intellectual whose films intersect with major historical and political upheavals in Eastern Europe—World War II, the unification and breakup of Yugoslavia, and the fall of communism. Subversive and moving, his films remain touchstones for transcultural and political cinema. Matching the intensity of the films, Lorraine Mortimer takes a radically interdisciplinary approach in this first book-length critical analysis of Makavejev’s work.

Studies in contrasts, Makavejev’s films combine documentary and fiction, tragedy and comedy. Mortimer examines seven of his films made between 1965 and 1994—including Montenegro (1981), Sweet Movie (1974), and WR: Mysteries of the Organism (1971)—looking at them historically, politically, and aesthetically and highlighting their implications for the contemporary world.

Both Makavejev’s films and Mortimer’s scrutiny of them are haunted by the specter of apocalyptic revolutionary movements that sacrifice people and the planet in the name of ideologies and idealisms. Mortimer argues that the aesthetic dimension is vital to our conception of old and new tribalisms and, ultimately, our understanding of being in the world.

Terror and Joy

Lorraine Mortimer is a senior lecturer in sociology and anthropology at La Trobe University, Victoria, Australia. She is the translator of Edgar Morin’s The Cinema, or The Imaginary Man (University of Minnesota Press, 2005).

Terror and Joy

Lorraine Mortimer has a profound understanding of Makavejev’s filmmaking, and she illustrates and explains his methods and objectives with clarity, passion, verve, and a sense of humor. Terror and Joy is likely to spur many retrospective screenings of Makaveyev’s oeuvre, further research on his innovative film structures, and increased attention to his pioneering work in courses on East European cinema and on film theory.

Herbert Eagle, University of Michigan

An indispensable study of a challenging filmmaker. Each analysis is closely argued, sensitive to the cinematic nuances, and richly allusive to other artists and writers.

Choice

Terror and Joy (written with the benefit of some input and communication from Makavejev himself) is a genuinely insightful exploration of the crucial part of a distinctive and important film-maker’s oeuvre. This bracing and intelligently conceived work does precisely what it sets out to do: it powerfully argues that political cinema is not dead, indeed never was ill.

Australian Book Review

The book fills a long-felt gap, offering pleasure and a great amount of knowledge.

Screening the Past

[Mortimer’s] sharp analysis and exacting detail make the book comprehensive and useful.

The Nation

This is a very welcome study of the complete opus of the important but only recently rediscovered film director, Dusan Makavejev. Lorraine Mortimer has engaged in a remarkable research effort, and her book is teeming with material related to Makavejev—an examination of several of his films; interviews; criticisms; and historical, theoretical, and even anecdotal material. All of this is comprehensively presented and written in an unpretentious and understandable language that makes her book a good read both for academic and general audiences interested in Makavejev’s work.

Slavic Review

In Mortimer’s hands the study of the work of the film-maker becomes and opportunity to both release its explosive ambiguity, and, furthermore, emancipate the ambivalence of human being in the world. In short, this book is an encouragement to debate and modes of working through which film studies and critical cultural sociology alike might be refreshed and reinvigorated.

Thesis Eleven

Mortimer should be credited for her well-informed account of both Makavegev’s films and the vicissitudes of their context. Her knowledge of the existing scholarship on Makavejev in English and French is superior, and her monograph will remain an indispensible guide for anyone studying the films of the Belgrade-born director.

Slavic and East European Journal