The sweetness and bitterness of émigré cinema : Dušan Makavejev’s Sweet movie and The Coca-Cola kid




Jurkovic, Michael Zivko

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Dušan Makavejev is considered to be perhaps the most significant film director from the former Yugoslavia. Makavejev’s career had three distinct phases: Yugoslavia; emigre cinema; and his return to Yugoslavia. The bloody dissolution of Yugoslavia has unfortunately obfuscated his contributions to film as a medium and his legacy has been marginalized and ignored in English-language scholarship. Compounding this is the fact that discussions of his career generally center on his earlier films which were made in Yugoslavia. This thesis focuses on two of his three films from his emigre period: Sweet Movie (1974) and The Coca-Cola Kid (1985). Before this analysis, a literature review of major sources in English is done as well as brief discussion of these earlier films. His emigre period is discussed in terms of his career trajectory; geopolitical realities; and aesthetics of the films. The last aspect is drawn out using Dimitris Eleftheriotis’s Cinematic Journeys: Film and Movement to conceptualize these films as road movies. Despite the road movies framework, the analysis of the films is largely from a cultural studies perspective. These two films stand at stylistic extremes, yet have underlying similarities and preoccupations related to wider themes present throughout all of Makavejev’s career. Sweet Movie and The Coca-Cola Kid are stridently anti-authoritarian and anti-capitalist. They are also concerned with youth; sugar, sweetness, and consumption; and social commentary on careers and animals. These films are concerned with global systems of analysis and thinking; the movies are challenging authoritarian impulses and are calls for greater freedom and individual agency. While Sweet Movie has been discussed extensively, The Coca-Cola Kid in particular is undertheorized. The Coca-Cola Kid is resituated within his career and juxtaposed to the aesthetically richer Sweet Movie. The thesis ends with a suggestion for further analysis on the second, emigre phase of Makavejev’s career as well as a suggestion for analysis on the third phase of his career


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