Saturday, September 27, 2014

MAN IS NOT A BIRD (1965)

Told with an almost documentary style (lots of handheld cameras and tight indoor shots that make you feel like you're actually inside the room with the characters) MAN IS NOT A BIRD is the story of an engineer who comes to a small mining town in eastern Serbia to oversee the installation of some machinery. Without even trying he starts a relationship with a beautiful hairdresser. Is she really into him or just looking for a way out of this filthy dead end town?

There's more going on than just the relationship between these two and director Dusan Makavejev captures it all beautifully: a worker who gives his wife's dresses to his mistress and the wife in turn beats the whore up in the town market; a singer getting stabbed in a bar brawl; workers stealing stealing copper wire; the rush to get the machinery installed before schedule; a truck driver who's always on the prowl for some fresh trim; a hypnotist convincing people that they are birds, etc. I'm a huge fan of Emile Zola and even though this film was set 80 years after Zola's "Germinal" it reminded me a lot of that book. Mostly with the interactions between the workers and how they all live in such close proximity that they all know each other business even down to the smallest details.

I enjoyed MAN IS NOT A BIRD.  The second half wasn't as good as the first half, but it's still in interesting picture.  I really liked the photography.  If you like realism and the documentary's of Werner Herzog and Errol Morris then I think you'll dig this as well.