W. R.: Mysteries of the Organism (W.R. - Misterije organizma) Reviews
The stuff about Wilhelm Reich was interesting, though I got the feeling that this film wasn't intending to instruct on any level because I don't feel instructed at all. So if I had my druthers, trade me weird politics for moar Reich.
Featuring graphic sex, documentary footage, and surrealistic imagery, W.R. is a constantly engaging, funny, riveting, and always thought-provoking film that blurs the line between genres and shows the line between seemingly opposed ideologies is not as clear as it might seem.
"W.R." refers to the controversial, possibly demented psychologist Wilhelm Reich. And most of the film's 84 minutes are devoted to promoting his ideas, in ways both subtle and explicit. Sometimes, very explicit.
The first 25 minutes are almost a straightforward documentary about Reich's life and work. For the movie's purposes, the key details are his Marxist politics and a belief in sexual ecstasy as a central regulator of one's health and stability. Part of the latter theory is his dubious focus on a ubiquitous, blue-tinted energy which he named "orgone." He even suggested that replenishing the body's orgone levels would cure cancer. He invented two notorious devices for channeling this precious force: the cloudbuster (a series of sky-aimed pipes which allegedly could produce rainfall) and the orgone accumulator (a person-sized booth lined with layers of wood and metal). Eventually, Reich's ideas became so contested that the U.S. government actually destroyed many of his books and contraptions. He died in 1957.
The manifesto of "W.R." arrives early: "Comrade lovers, for your health's sake, f*ck freely." The remaining scenes cut between multiple people who generally follow this principle. The Fugs' Tuli Kupferberg walks the streets dressed like a soldier, bellowing mock-military rhetoric while waving a toy gun. Professional plaster-caster Nancy Godfrey takes a mold of a young man's erection (yes, the film shows hard penises). A glittery drag queen eats ice cream with his lover and talks about his first fling. An artist discusses painting portraits of people masturbating. Women writhe in feigned sexual heat as cathartic therapy. There's also some simulated stock footage of Joseph Stalin. But the largest chunk of time is devoted to two female radicals who live together and stridently preach the ways of Marxist free love. One of them is frequently nude, and even has what appears to be genuine intercourse onscreen. The girls attend an ice-skating performance with an amusing Communist slant and end up luring a handsome Russian skater back to their lair. This subplot has a bizarre, unexpected conclusion which arguably does not fit the movie's themes so well, but rest assured that the skater winds up crooning a quite lovely folk song.
The film's shambling structure is somewhat charming but mostly irksome and, to make matters worse, I couldn't parse at least a dozen lines due to white subtitles being laid over light-colored imagery. Meanwhile, the opening credits waste a perfectly good egg.