Dusan Makavejev – Ljubavni slucaj ili tragedija sluzbenice P.T.T. AKA Love Affair, or the Case of the Missing Switchboard Operator (1967)


An early (1967) film by Dusan Makavejev, the master of the eastern European dirty joke (WR: Mysteries of the Organism, Montenegro). The passionate affair of a telephone operator and a Marxist rodent exterminator is intercut with lectures on criminology and sexology, with occasional cooking lessons. It’s very funny and, with its ragged arrangement of warring styles and ideologies, very original: it’s like a smutty, sticky-fingered Godard. – Dave Kehr, The Chicago Reader

Given that four of Makavejev’s first five features are essentially the same film, it seems increasingly unlikely that he’ll ever improve on this, his second movie, the most interesting and concentrated treatment of his recurrent themes. A tragi-comic love affair between a switchboard operator and a corporation rat-catcher starts out idyllic, but turns sour under external pressures; Makavejev breaks up the time sequence of his story with constant flashes forward, and brings in a lot of apparently extraneous material, from lectures on sex in art to a poem about rats. The disjunctions and contradictions yield a lot of ideas about personal freedom and oppression (especially within a ‘socialist’ state), and the profusion of images is well enough organised to make the movie continuously provocative and suggestive. The use of historical newsreels is finally as glib as in W.R., but the emphasis on the banalities of day-to-day living is trenchant, and more than compensates. – Tony Rayns, Time Out London


Subtitles:English (hardcoded)

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