One of the stranger DVDs to pass this way recently is "WR: Mysteries of the Organism."
The 1971 film, by Eastern European filmmaker Dusan Makavejev, was banned for 16 years in the director's homeland, the former Yugoslavia, due to its herky-jerky mix of sex, politics and comedy. The DVD comes via the Criterion Collection, which released it in a single-disc edition a few months back.
"WR" starts off as a documentary about Austrian-American psychiatrist Wilhelm Reich ("WR"), creator of the "orgone accumulator" -- a sweat-box-like contraption said to harness sexual life energy for the benefits of patients, who sat inside. The feds shut down the ailing Reich's operation, banned his books and eventually jailed him, in an act his wife called "judicial murder." Reich devotees find orgasms a good way to get the energy flowing, so we see practitioners pleasing themselves into a good froth. The docu plays it pretty straight; the content is plenty weird enough.
From there, the movie moves to Yugoslavia, for a slapstick fiction about a beautiful young Marxist who talks a lot about sex and Soviet bloc politics while her hot naked roommate gets busy with a series of lovers. The women's adventures are mixed in with footage from the 1946 drama "Pitsi," about Stalin.
Meanwhile in Manhattan, a member of the Fugs runs around with a toy automatic weapon, shaking up the suits and amusing the cops (imagine). In a porn magazine office, a female plaster-caster makes a permanent record of a subject's cock in a long take that Makavejev found so good it was "uneditable."
The extras feature a couple of interviews with Makavejev, who does a pretty good job of explaining the film and its contexts in that rocky era. One funny clip shows the BBC's attempts to clean up the quite-explicit film for broadcast. The commentary is read aloud from a 1999 book on the film.
The movie isn't for most people, obviously, but those in tune with Lennon and Marx (John and Groucho) should call "WR" for a good time.
Makavejev's sex-drenched Sweet Movie also is available from Criterion.
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