Man Is Not a Bird is an antic portrait of the love lives of two less-than-heroic men who labor inside a copper factory, yet Makavejev makes room for plentiful free-form riffing on the almost comically bleak environs. For his first feature, following years of making documentaries and experimental shorts, Makavejev and his crew set up shop in Bor, a mining town in the mountains near Yugoslavia’s border with Bulgaria, and got to know the workers in the region, interviewing them about their lives and experiences, and even shooting footage inside the local ore factories. Yet the result is hardly a staid tribute to the working class. Also featuring seductive Milena Dravic, who would go on to star in Makavejev’s groundbreaking WR: Mysteries of the Organism, Man Is Not a Bird is one of cinema’s most assured and daring debuts. —The Criterion Collection
Dusan Makavejev, the most prominent director in new Yugoslav cinema is internationally recognized for his passionate, daring films that blend fiction with reality, and drama with humor. Many of these films contain experimental elements and were considered controversial for their eroticism and sharp criticism of Eastern European politics. Makavejev began making short films during the ‘50s just after he studied psychology at Belgrade University; he then went on to become active in several film societies and festivals while studying direction at the Academy for Radio, Television, and Film. He continued making shorts and documentaries for both Zagreb and Avala studios until the early ’60s. His interest in documentaries can still be see in his later fictional features. Makavejev’s first three features — Man Is Not a Bird (1966), Love Affair (1967), and Innocence Unprotected (1968) — won him international acclaim. In 1971, his fictionalized chronicle of psychoanalyst Wilhelm Reich, WR: Mysteries… read more
Makavejev crafts a rather interesting and saddening montage allegory in which workers are seduced so wholeheartedly in the philosophy of their work that it replaces the sexual act. Shots of machinery that intercut with lovemaking convey an sterile integration and execution of a mechanical phallus, yet result in impotence of philosophy, despite societal embrace and success.
Does anyone know the title of the song sung by Fatima in the bar early on in the film?