Just when I thought Luis Bunuel was the oddest storyteller in film, along comes W.R.: Mysteries of the Organism, a whirlwind montage of half-documentary, half-fiction elements from the apparently warped mind of Dusan Makavejev. I say his mind is warped only to emphasize the almost screwball way it seems to fashion connections between various snippets of footage; to me, this is not how a human brain is supposed to operate. Nevertheless, we have this film, culled from Makavejev’s considerations and musings on the nature of sexuality as it relates to the current state of Communism, as well as an exploration of the life and work of psychoanalyst Wilhelm Reich. It’s weird, it’s full of sex, and that’s exactly the way he wanted it.
The film isn’t noteworthy for its technical achievements, which are few. The cinematography is to-the-point, merely concerned with getting the job done and not even with fancy frills and baubles such as proper focus or decent equipment. The editing, if anything about the technicals, was pretty well done, merely for the fact that it had to be, or the film or the points it was trying to make would not have worked at all. No, the film is noteworthy for its content, and what best amounts to the film’s narrative. It starts off with an exploration of the orgasm, featuring a kaleidoscopic view of a couple having sex in a field. From there, we dive into the look at Wilhelm Reich’s work and his identification of the “orgone”, a unit of what Reich called “life force”, and how it is essential for the youth of today to not ignore or attempt to stifle. During this, the film leaps into various segue segments, including a guy who patrols the streets of New York in drab war attire, occasionally masturbating the rifle he carries, a sexual magazine where the workers are all in the nude, an artist who draws the forms of models masturbating or orgasming, and a fictional account of a pro-active Socialist woman who attempts to seduce a champion figure skater, among others. Really, that’s all the film does, is jump around a lot between these various bits, all of which explore sexuality in some form, in the face of Communism and Socialism. And that’s about it.
So, why is this a must see? The only real reason I could come up with, besides having never seen anything like this before, is that it is so frank and open about itself and its content that it warrants a look; that it has the gall and the gumption to be so candid about its sexualization that to ignore it or try to censor it invariably proves its importance in some fashion. I, personally, don’t agree, and it is one reason I am definitely not looking forward to watching Salo; just because a film is blatantly sexual or affronting does not make it a must-have experience, in my eyes. We have films like Salo, but we don’t have films like The Human Centipede on the list, and for darn good reason. W.R. isn’t nearly as bad as films like that; indeed, I probably wouldn’t be able to call it a bad film with a straight face. It’s just the subject matter that gets me into a twist, as it is supposed to. The film, I think, succeeds in its intended goal, but that does not make this an easy watch, or an entertaining one, and it’s that to which I’ve given it the rating I did. Still, you’ve gotta appreciate when someone takes a bold step in a different direction, and if anything, this film does that and then some.
Arbitrary Rating: 6/10