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Manifesto (1988)

manifesto,a night of loveManifesto (or A Night of Love) is a satire written and directed by Dušan Makavejev. It premiered at the 1988 Toronto International Film Festival and was released on VHS in October 1997. It hasn’t been released on DVD yet.


In 1920, in Central Europe, the tyrannical king (Enver Petrovci) of an Empire is visiting the small town of Waldheim. While a group of revolutionaries plot to kill the despotic king, his oppressive secret service, leaded by Avanti (Alfred Molina), and the police force, leaded by Police Chief Hunt (Simon Callow), organize his reception. Svetlana Vargas (Camilla Søeberg), a member of a bourgeois family and abused by her employee Emile (Rade Serbedzija), is in charge to organize the attempt against the king.


Alfred Molina (Avanti), Simon Callow (Police Chief Hunt), Eric Stoltz (Christopher), Camilla Søeberg (Svetlana Vargas); Rade Šerbedžija (Emile), Svetozar Cvetkovic (Rudi Kugelkopf), Lindsay Duncan (Lily Sachor), Chris Haywood (Wango), Patrick Godfrey (Dr. Lombrosow), Linda Marlowe (Stella Vargas), Gabrielle Anwar (Tina), Enver Petrovci (The King)

eric stoltz,manifesto,simon callow

Simon Callow (^ moustache left) wrote a book about his experience making the movie, called Shooting the Actor. The book is available on Amazon. Here are a few excerpts:

VHS ON AMAZON: A Night of Love [VHS]


It’s an eclectic, international cast, known to those who savor splendid acting: Alfred Molina (almost unrecognizable after “Prick Up Your Ears’ ” shaven-headed Kenneth Halliwell), Simon Callow, Lindsay Duncan (the Royal Shakespeare’s award-winning Mme. de Merteuil in “Les Liaisons Dangereuses”), and “Mask’s” Eric Stoltz, as the story’s white knight, to single out only a few.

The story involves the sexually rapacious head of the secret police (Molina), brought to Waldheim to make sure an “impromptu” appearance by the middle-European king goes off with bouquets, not bombs. Assorted revolutionaries, from Soeberg to her fanatic lover Rudi (Svetozar Cvetkovic, last seen romancing Susan Anspach in “Montenegro”) to various villagers, have different ideas as to how the appearance should conclude.

eric stoltz,manifestoStoltz, who works at the post office, is not as much a revolutionary as a worshipful idealist who has adored Soeberg since grade school. He will make sure Callow, the town’s chief of police, doesn’t lay hands on damaging mail that arrives for her, while sweetly serenading her nightly with his flute.

Hardly worshipful is the practiced and sensual Emile (Rade Serbedzija), the family’s lean, older estate manager who has been involved with Soeberg since she was an adolescent. (It’s from this element of the Zola story that Makavejev’s screenplay begins.) (…)

The Yugoslavian director has always had fanatics of every calling in his rifle sights, and “Manifesto” has more than its share. Wildest of all is the revolutionary Rudi, captured to be reprogrammed at the dour-looking Bergman Sanitorium. Put into an enormous treadmill wheel, The Permanent Revolution Rotor, he proudly prefers to stay in it and become the movement’s martyr rather than escape.

Makavejev is also practiced destroyer of the cliche: the mother who sighs that she and her daughter could be mistaken for sisters; the wide-eyed village ice cream seller (toothsome Gabrielle Anwar) set up to be taken advantage of by the worldly Molina, or even the village schoolteacher (Lindsay Duncan) protecting her chicks from too-early worldly knowledge. Each of our comfortable expectations is turned upside down.

“Manifesto” is an exquisitely turned-out production, blithe, beautiful, sparkling. Fellow Yugoslav’s Dusan Petricic’s animated titles set us up, and Makavejev and his fellow film makers carry the tone through to the last, wicked, sardonic detail. Counter-counterrevolution never had it so good. — Los Angeles Times

TRAILER (rated R, NSFW):

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