Human not human is not only the best Italian "experimental" film of the 60's, but also one of the richest and most involving documents of "cinema of protest". - Lino Miccichè
Schifano's cinema is, as his paintings, spontaneous and gesture-based, quickly objectifying the world, and at the same time deeply thougth-out, and progresses by building up pictures and sounds.
Dissolves and pulsing images of television broadcasts plunge us in a completely unstable state of vision, allowing the author to avoid choosing, including in the same space different visions and distant, fragmentary, expanded timeframes.
If anything, the choice is left to the viewer and, from this point of view, "Human not human" becomes almost an interactive film, one that needs to be mentally rebuilt.
"Human not human" is introduced by an art critic (Calvesi), who speaks about ancient painting as "an alchemic attempt to reproduce the misyery of life by bringing matter to life using light".
According to Schifano, cinema is the real art of painting, because it has the same alchemic power to bring matter to life.
"Human not human", a film where words, and especially gestures, are constantly frozen, cancelled, deformed or repeated, communicates this desperate search for a gesture, either a political, aesthetic or private one: actions that communicate a sense of life, and, at the same time, a sense of powerlessness of the existence caught in the act. -
Giorgia Calò, from the booklet and the book "La trilogia d'artista. Il cinema di Mario Schifano"
"Mario Schifano, an Italian pop art painter and collagist who exhibited alongside Warhol and and Roy Lichtenstein, released this unusual art film Umano Non Umano (“Human Not Human”) in 1972. The plotless Godardian inspired episodic documentary is quite boring (I don’t speak Italian, so it’s quite boring to me) but it is notable for the inclusion of two odd scenes, one with Mick Jagger and another with Keith Richards (Anita Pallenberg, once Schifano’s girlfriend, is also in the film, and there are appearances by Carmelo Bene and Italian existentialist novelist Alberto Moravia.)
At about 36 minutes in, Mick Jagger is seen prancing around like an idiot in a pink suit with a corsage doing a not terribly convincing—and spinning—lip-sync of “Street Fighting Man.” He looks like he has to take a wicked piss the whole time. At the one hour and one minute mark, Keith is seen arsing around making avant-garde electronic music. That part is actually pretty cool, but the rest of it’s pretty awful.
Although Umano Non Umano came out in 1972, I’d imagine that Mick Jagger’s scene was probably shot sometime prior to when Marianne Faithfull left him for Schifano in 1969. Two pages are devoted to their affair in her 1994 autobiography, Faithfull. According to her Schifano was a massive coke freak.
Maybe that’s why he thought the incessant heartbeat noise going on throughout this film was a good idea?" - Dangerous Minds