W.R. Mysteries of the Organism (1971)

It’s difficult to know where to start with Dušan Makavejev‘s 1971 avant-garde film, W.R. Mysteries of the Organism. It starts out as a documentary on psychoanalyst Wilhelm Reich but integrates vignettes of counterculture figures in the US, as well as a story set in Yugoslavia tackling themes of Communist revolution and sexuality. It may be fair to consider it something of a collage in construction then, incorporating B&W footage from Soviet film, colour footage of a plaster casting in the offices of Screw magazine, and any number of other elements.

Betty Dodson is interviewed on masturbation, Tuli Kupferberg of The Fugs engages in street theatre, Jackie Curtis strolls down 42nd street enjoying an ice cream cone with a friend. We see orgone accumulators and hear from Reich’s family and friends, as well as fellow doctors and the townspeople he would interact with. Milena Dravić appears as a woman called Milena in the film’s fictional storyline. She is staunchly pro Communist, pro feminist, and pro Reichian; she enthralls a crowd with polemic, and seduces a Russian figure skater named Vladimir Ilyich, only to lose her head at his bloody hands and keep talking after decapitation.

If anyone reading this is getting bored by films, or feeling that there’s nothing new under the sun, I would urge you to see WR: Mysteries of the Organism. Unconventional to its core, it’s both a time capsule and an insight into a possible freethinking future. Similar in some ways to the political cinema of Jean-Luc Godard, but much funnier and sexier, I recommend it to anyone left curious by this description.