In the UK every now and again a film morsel will turn up – one of those forgotten and radical classics from a far-away country of which we know little. This week it is the turn of the former Yugoslavia and the great Dushan Makavejev film ‘WR – Mysteries of the Organism’ http://www.newstatesman.com/blogs/film/2012/08/dusan-makavejevs-visionary-insolence. A great hurrah goes up amidst the alternative crowd and then film buffs will have to wait for another year or so until this film is shown once again. Yet no one dares to ask for more or to inquire from what ground this film arose. Every film buff in the UK will be able to cite this film but very little else. Even if they do maybe it will be another Makvejev movie – perhaps some lucky buff has also seen his ‘The Switchboard Operator’ or, god forbid, ‘Sweet Movie’. And that will be it. It is the same with the Czech New Wave – how many times would my local ‘independent’ cinema in Brighton put on Jiri Menzel’s ‘Closely Observed Trains’ to the absolute exclusion of any other film. I think that few film buffs around the world are as ignorant as the British as to the wide variety of European New Wave cinemas precisely because of this fixation on the single masterpiece. (I could mention Chytilova’s ‘Daisies’ here as all British film buffs will probably only know this one film of hers and not a whole host of others).
So with the exclusion of the French New Wave (and possibly one may include a Czech and a Polish New Wave and, hesitantly, a recent Roumanian New Wave) the rest is silence. Silence about the Yugoslav Black Wave or silence about the Spanish New Wave of the 1960’s and 1970’s (the Bardem’s, Berlanga’s and early Saura’s, the Basilio Martin Patino’s, Mario Camus’s etc), silence even about the Soviet New Wave which is not Tarkovsky or Paradjanov – ie the Poetic part of the New Wave- the Shukshin’s and the Khutsiev’s are completely ignored. Take, for example, a Guardian article talking about Spanish cinema and its history – barely a mention of any of the great New Wave films apart from Saura’s ‘La caza’ (The Hunt). It’s great underground classic ‘El extran’o viaje’ which influenced Spanish cinema after Franco and Almodovar in particular is nowhere to be seen. In the near future I’ll be taking a look at some of these great classics of the Forgotten New Waves starting, I hope, with some Yugoslav ones such as the Underground Classic ‘Plastic Jesus’ and Fernando Fernan Gomez’s ‘El extran’o Viaje’