Many, including myself, were initially shocked and repelled by Makavejev’s most complex, explosive and assaulting film. In Sweet Movie, Eros and Thanatos are not concepts but forces. Wilhelm Reich, François Rabelais and Jonathan Swift, rather than Sigmund Freud, seem to inspire this never-safe journey, grounded in the senses, a journey which seems like it has land mines placed along the way. Sweet Movie is Makavejev’s furthest and most daring departure from traditional realist narrative. It is a mixture of humour, horror, eroticism, music, colour, defilement, excrement and murder. Once again, the film combines fiction and documentary, but this time the connections collide more harshly.
As we have seen, it takes Miss World and the audience to the commune where the members participate in a “utopia of regression”. In twin narrative threads – deadly adventures in capitalism and totalitarianism – Miss World, prized for her abstinence and virginity, but rejected by her husband, Mr. Dollars (John Vernon), will eventually writhe and drown in a bath of chocolate while making a television commercial; meanwhile Anna Planeta (a blonde-haired Anna Prucnal), prostitute of the revolution, on a corpse-filled boat bearing the giant head of Karl Marx, makes love with Un Marin du Potemkin (A Sailor from the Potemkin, aka Luv Bakunin; Pierre Clémenti), in a bed of sugar, stabbing him with her dagger, his sacrificed red blood curling through the white grains. Whilst Luv is content to die a martyr’s death, like Vakulinchuk (Aleksandr Antonov) in Sergei Eisenstein’s Bronenosets Potyomkin (Battleship Potemkin, 1925), most controversial for audiences today is Planeta’s bridal/maternal striptease for a group of boys enticed onto her barge by candy while Russian Orthodox liturgical music plays on the soundtrack. Read here a movie critique by Lorraine Mortimer.