WR: Mysteries of the Organism

"Very Good"

WR: Mysteries of the Organism Review


Those familiar with Dusan Makavejev's work will not likely wonder why WR: Mysteries of the Organism features an opening shot of a trio of people playing with a yellow egg yolk, but rather will wonder why they aren't naked.

Makavejev's defining work is one of eerily appropriate juxtapositions, fact and fiction, old footage and new. Ostensibly a documentary about psychiatrist Wilhelm Reich (the WR of the title), the film begins with a roughly half-hour discussion of Reich's theories. As Freud's first assistant, Reich was fascinated with sex and sexual politics, and he pioneered theories regarding the "orgone," a kind of cosmic energy with healing and sexually-charging powers. Reich's family, friends, and acquaintances are interviewed, with his far-out theories and therapies displayed for the viewer, as well as a chronicling of his rapid fall from grace, which culminated in the destruction of his work by the FDA in a late 1950s book-burning.

But just when you get comfy with the fascinating treatise on Reich come a litany of other films and stories intercut with the documentary. There is the American poet Tuli Kupferberg, running around the streets of a city in military regalia, narrated by his poetry. There is the androgynous Jackie Curtis, one of Warhol's crew, waxing about sex. There are excerpts from a Soviet propaganda film, starring Stalin. And there is the editor of Screw magazine, having his member cast in plaster.

While all of the above feature documentary footage, a sixth(!) story -- a work of fiction -- surrounds them all. In this story, a Yugoslavian woman (Milena Dravic) becomes infatuated with a Russian figure skater, all while her roommate holds sex parties in their apartment. Milena preaches the virtues of communism to all who will listen, and soon we see her social politics as an analogy for her sexual ones -- and Milena and the skater end up copulating, with disastrous results.

If only WR kept up the interest level of the Reich biography, this might have been a fantastic picture. Too bad that none of the supporting footage nor the fictional tale match the sheer curiousness of Reich's story. Makavejev has certainly gone out of his way to make WR stick together, each of his fragments working together to tell a story bigger than the sum of its parts. The narrative's communist theme turns into one of sex; Reich's sexual research results in a fascist destruction of his work. If only it worked that way in practice -- WR's supporting bits just don't have the punch they need, and that drags the film down. Kupferberg's raving lunacy serves as counterpoint to nothing. Curtis's whining about sex comes across as, well, whining about sex.

In the end, WR (originally rated X) should be noted for having a great first third, when Reich is the focus. After that, Makavejev's slip-slide into madness becomes ever more obvious.

Aka W.R. - Misterije organizma.

Bustin' loose.



WR: Mysteries of the Organism

Facts and Figures

Run time: 84 mins

In Theaters: Monday 10th May 1971

Distributed by: Criterion Collection

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 86%
Fresh: 12 Rotten: 2

IMDB: 6.9 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer:

Starring: as Milena, as Vladimir Ilyich, as Jagoda, as US Soldier, as Radmilović, as Jackie Curtis, as Himself, as Himself, Mikheil Gelovani as Joseph Stalin

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Girls Trip Movie Review

Girls Trip Movie Review

This movie's premise basically sounds like The Hangover with added black girl power. But it's...

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie Movie Review

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie Movie Review

There's so much manic energy in this animated action comedy that it can't help but...

The Big Sick Movie Review

The Big Sick Movie Review

It may be rather long for a romantic comedy, but this film has such a...

The Emoji Movie Movie Review

The Emoji Movie Movie Review

There's no reason why this animated comedy adventure needed to be this pointless. Solidly entertaining...

England Is Mine Movie Review

England Is Mine Movie Review

While this is billed as a film about The Smiths' singer-songwriter Morrissey, it's actually an...

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets Movie Review

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets Movie Review

It's been 20 years since French filmmaker Luc Besson shook up the sci-fi genre with...

Dunkirk Movie Review

Dunkirk Movie Review

Britain's epic 1940 evacuation of Dunkirk has been dramatised on film before, but no one...

Advertisement
Killing Ground Movie Review

Killing Ground Movie Review

From Australia, this dark and edgy thriller is skilfully made by writer-director Damien Power to...

City of Ghosts Movie Review

City of Ghosts Movie Review

This award-winning documentary plays like a thriller as it traces the work of a group...

Cars 3 Movie Review

Cars 3 Movie Review

It's been six years since the last Cars movie (there were two Planes movies in...

The Beguiled Movie Review

The Beguiled Movie Review

In her inimitable loose style, Sofia Coppola remakes the 1971 Clint Eastwood movie from a...

War for the Planet of the Apes Movie Review

War for the Planet of the Apes Movie Review

The surprisingly thoughtful prequel trilogy comes to a powerful conclusion with this robust, dramatic thriller,...

It Comes At Night Movie Review

It Comes At Night Movie Review

This sharply original horror film not only approaches its premise from an unexpected angle, but...

Okja Movie Review

Okja Movie Review

As Tilda Swinton reteams with her Snowpiercer director, Korea's Bong Joon Ho, it's perhaps unsurprising...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.