Gorilla Bathes at Noon (Germany-Yugoslavia, 1993):
(Gorila se Kupa u Podne)

Cheeky title aside, the main primate surveyed in Dusan Makavejev's stroll through contemporary East Europe is Red Army major Svetozar Cvetkovic, a kind of Siberian Harold Lloyd who, stranded in Germany, pedals from black marketers to freshly orphaned toddlers to Lenin statuary. In fact, comrade Vladimir -- the image, the idea, the political embodiment -- figures in throughout the narrative: embodied by the hero's girlfriend (Anita Mancic), the bearded leader pops up in Cvetkovic's dreams, and the picture culminates around the vérité dismantling of a towering Lenin monument in Berlin. Characteristically, Makavejev intercuts the marble decapitation with clips from the 1945 Soviet combat film Fall of Berlin, which caps the capture of the city by the Russkies with a waxy Stalin beaming over cheering international masses. Like his use of the Dragoljub Aleksic talkie in Innocence Unprotected, Makavejev's montage avoids easy "camp" derision in favor of ironic and emotional complexities -- for him a movie, no matter how ridiculous it may now seem, remains a valid piece of cultural memory. Neither is Cvetkovic, for all his gaucherie and naiveté, made to look too ridiculous; rather, his outdated Marxist idealism makes his struggle in an uncertain political climate all the more affecting. Like in the shakily reunited Germany envisioned by Wim Wenders in that same year's Faraway, So Close!, Makavejev's prankish tone is purposefully undercut by the depths of forlorn rue etched in the of lines of the continent. With Alexandra Rohmig, Petar Bozovic, and Eva Ras (from The Case of the Missing Switchboard Operator).

--- Fernando F. Croce

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