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

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Movie Review

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Movie Review

After the thunderous reception for J.J. Abrams' Episode VII: The Force Awakens two years ago,...

Daddy's Home 2 Movie Review

Daddy's Home 2 Movie Review

Like the 2015 original, this comedy plays merrily with cliches to tell a silly story...

The Man Who Invented Christmas Movie Review

The Man Who Invented Christmas Movie Review

There's a somewhat contrived jauntiness to this blending of fact and fiction that may leave...

Ferdinand Movie Review

Ferdinand Movie Review

This animated comedy adventure is based on the beloved children's book, which was published in...

Brigsby Bear Movie Review

Brigsby Bear Movie Review

Director Dave McCary makes a superb feature debut with this offbeat black comedy, which explores...

Battle of the Sexes Movie Review

Battle of the Sexes Movie Review

A dramatisation of the real-life clash between tennis icons Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs,...

Shot Caller Movie Review

Shot Caller Movie Review

There isn't much subtlety to this prison thriller, but it's edgy enough to hold the...

Advertisement
The Disaster Artist Movie Review

The Disaster Artist Movie Review

A hilariously outrageous story based on real events, this film recounts the making of the...

Stronger Movie Review

Stronger Movie Review

Based on a true story about the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, this looks like one...

Only the Brave Movie Review

Only the Brave Movie Review

Based on a genuinely moving true story, this film undercuts the realism by pushing its...

Wonder Movie Review

Wonder Movie Review

This film may be based on RJ Palacio's fictional bestseller, but it approaches its story...

Happy End  Movie Review

Happy End Movie Review

Austrian auteur Michael Haneke isn't known for his light touch, but rather for hard-hitting, award-winning...

Patti Cake$ Movie Review

Patti Cake$ Movie Review

Seemingly from out of nowhere, this film generates perhaps the biggest smile of any movie...

The Limehouse Golem Movie Review

The Limehouse Golem Movie Review

A Victorian thriller with rather heavy echoes of Jack the Ripper, this film struggles to...

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.