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SWITCHBOARD OPERATOR

Yugoslavia, 1967 (MIFF 1969, Programme 22)

Director: Dussan Makaveiev

Man, McLuhan says somewhere or other, becomes the reproductive organ of the technological world. So what, in such a world, becomes of his reproductive organ? This Love Affair (one of several alternative titles to the film) is that of people who try to live ordinary lives against the background of technological abstraction. But technology is not only the setting, the environment; it is also the metaphor chosen by this director to illustrate and explain his anthropological observation of what might be a foreign culture but for the fact that we live in it ourselves.

A nice, ordinary switchboard operator, then, and her boy-friend who is a pest exterminator, think they live a nice, ordinary life in which they can make love and look at the telly and cook, and then he goes off on a rat-catching trip and she gets herself laid and suddenly they're caught up living quite a different life from the one they thought.

A remarkable piece of origina! film-making from Belgrade which implies unintentionally that the American way is in fact the universal way. More salacity than sagacity, says Time magazine with its usual salted potato-crisp judgment. Don't you believe it. Time is technology, too.

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