WR: The Mysteries of the Organism (Yugoslavia-West Germany, 1971):
(WR: Misterije Organizma)

The politics of genitals are Dusan Makavejev's favorite juxtaposition cells, so it's only fitting that his randy, leapfrogging montage finds its most fecund flowering in this woolly vaudeville collage, shot during the tremors of a revolution (1968-71). "W.R." is Wilhelm Reich, the Freudian-Marxist analyst whose theories on the cosmic, healing power of sexual mojo made him a refugee from his native Austria and the target of book-burning hysteria in the '50s U.S. The film kicks off as a documentary enquiry into Reich's methods, jackrabbiting from soundbites by his widow and barber to Reichian breathing exercises, before throwing in prismatic erotoscopes, Stalin-cheering from a kitschy Commie hagiography, and wacky glimpses of East Village circa 1969, with gonzo poet Tuli Kupferberg skittering around in full military regalia and Warholian gender-bender Jackie Curtis alternating licks on a snow cone with his/her boy-toy. The daredevil shuffling keeps the associations liquid, though "Comrades, fuck freely!" remains the reverberating war cry, voiced by the foxy heroine (Milena Dravic) of the fictional narrative parachuted in amid the vérité snapshots. Dravic whips up an impromptu rally about the revolutionary nature of the orgasm while her already liberated roommate (Jagoda Kaloper) fucks the shit out of some guy on the next room, but an attempt to flesh out her beliefs with a Russian figure-skater prude (Ivica Vidovic) ends in tragedy. Makavejev's ideas are as dangerous to an oppressive order as Godard's, yet while Godard around this time had willfully retreated into severe esoteria, Makavejev's politicized, accepting vigor whirs film open, all the better to crack the cement of dogmatic doctrine. Sex equals life, and fascism here is the hardening perversion of this idea -- one typically virtuosic sequence hops from Screw editor Jim Buckley getting his cock plaster-cast to the hammily inspirational Stalin stand-in to Kupferberg jacking off his machine-gun for a stunning indictment of the misdirected aggression of phallocentrism. If Dravic's wiles only release the killer in Vidovic, Makavejev's ending is nevertheless a hopeful one, using the noggin-in-the-pan trope from The Brain That Wouldn't Die for some of his most lyrical effects -- a beatifically smiling severed head, new beginnings trumping death, and the belief that liberation, once started, cannot be held back.

--- Fernando F. Croce

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