Thursday, November 22, 2007

W.R.: Mysteries of the Organism (Dušan Makavejev, 1971)

****½
Yugoslavia/West Germany



"Comrade-lovers, for your health's sake, fuck freely!"

Probably the most fervent cinematic avowal of the 'make love not war' credo as well as the best film to ever showcase hardcore sex scenes, a lecture on Wilhelm Reich, documentary footage of the cult he has spawned in rural America, a Communist manifesto, Nazi footage of electroshock therapy, an ode to Stalin and close-ups of a large erect penis set to be reproduced into a dildo.

Psychedelic doesn't begin to describe it. But this Dušan Makavejev quote maybe does: "[it's] a black comedy, a political circus, a fantasy on the fascism and communism of human bodies, the political life of human genitals, a proclamation of the pornographic essence of any system of authority and power over others." The zeal and dizziness with which Makevejev attacks ideals held sacred by the two world powers - namely Communism and consumerism - puts him in a delicate and pretty delightful position.

The subtle, telling details of day-to-day life in Yugoslavia that marked Makavejev's earlier masterpieces are sadly missing here, but all the same, it's one of the key works of 1970s counterculture and arguably of cinema in general.

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