|Exploitation style poster for theater run of WR: Mysteries of the Organism.|
WR: Mysteries of the Organism
d. Dušan Makavejev
Criterion Collection #389
Oh shit ANOTHER joint from my man Dušan Makavejev, director of Sweet Movie? Hells to the yeah. Before WR starts, a title informs you that WR won the "Luis Bunuel Price" at Cannes in 1971 and that the Luis Bunuel Prize at Cannes is something that exists. WR: Mysteries of the Organism is not as, um, scatological as Sweet Movie- not quite the gross-out sketch humor style of Sweet Movie but, WR: Mysteries of the Organism has something resembling a coherent plot: A mixture of documentary and narrative focused on the story of Orgasm enthusiast William Reich.
Reich was essentially hounded to death by the United States government: He died serving time in Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary on a contempt of court charge, and his books were publicly burned. Reich's enthusiasm for the Orgasm was embraced by heroes of the 60s like William Burroughs. He was well known for his Orgone accumulator a kind of box that you would sit in. Not clear if you were supposed to masturbate in the box or what.
About half of the movie is a documentary type movie about Reich, the other half is a narrative about Milena, a fiery red head living in Communist Yugoslavia and is a big fan of Reich. Perhaps not suprisingly her voyage towards sexual self discovery ends with her head severed (by a pair of figure skates no less) by an object of her affection.
The journey taken by left leaning women towards sexual self-discovery in European 70s art-house cinema is so prevalent that it is practically a genre unto itself. The simple fact that 100% of these films were made by men ABOUT women makes them troubling from a contemporary feminist perspective but they are all good faith efforts whose endurance is ironically due to the inclusion of sexually explicit subject matter, novel at the time.