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Mysteries of the Organism (1971) - Dusan Makavejev

Related: 1971 - European cinema - Freudo-Marxism - Dusan Makavejev - Wilhelm Reich - the sexual revolution in the cinema

The ravishing sex reformer and radical in a provocative pose; composing sex and politics, it also reveals Makavejev's "aestheticism"; the unexpected rabbit, the strong, two-colored vertical stripes and particularly the inexplicable empty frame. SC via Film As a Subversive Art (1974) - Amos Vogel


  • W.R. - Misterije organizma/Mysteries of the Organism (1971) - Dusan Makavejev [Amazon.com]

    W.R.: Mysteries of the Organism is a film by Dusan Makavejev that explores the relationship between communist politics and sexuality, as well as exploring the life and work of Wilhelm Reich. It features interviews with Reich's children Eva and Peter. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WR:_Mysteries_of_the_Organism [May 2005]

    Review by Amos Vogel

    (Dusan Makavejev, Yugoslavia, 1971) (F)
    Hilarious, highly erotic political comedy from Yugoslavia advances sex as an ideological imperative for liberation; an outrageous, exuberant work of a new breed of interna- tional revolutionists, spawned by anarchist-communist ideas, anti-Stalinism, Consciousness III in America, and Wilhelm Reich's sexual and political radicalism. The total portrayal of sex is a "first" for the East. SC

    Banned in Yugoslavia, hailed at international film festivals, this is unquestionably one of the most important subversive masterpieces of the 1970s: a hilarious, highly erotic political comedy which quite seriously proposes sex as the ideological imperative for revolution and advances a plea for Erotic Socialism. Only the revolutionary Cubist Makavejev -- clearly one of the most significant new directors now working in world cinema -- could have pulled together this hallucinatory melange of Wilhelm Reich, excerpts from a monstrous Soviet film, The Vow (1946), starring Stalin; a transvestite of the Warhol factory; A.S. Neill of Summerhill; several beautiful young Yugoslavs fucking merrily throughout;the editor of America's sex magazine Screw having his most important private part lovingly plaster-cast in erection; not to speak of a Soviet figure-skating champion, Honored Artist of the People (named Vladimir Ilyich!), who cuts off his girlfriend's head with one of his skates after a particularly bountiful ejaculation, to save his Communist virginity from Revisionist Yugoslav Contamination. It is an outrageous, exuberant, marvelous work of a new breed of international revolu- tionary, strangely spawned by cross-fertilization between the original radical ideologies of the East, Consciousness III in America, and the sexual-politics radicalism of the early Wilhelm Reich, who equated sexual with political liberation and denied the possibility of one without the other. In one of the climactic scenes of the film, the ravishing young Yugoslav girl star pronounces herself in favor of masturbation and all sexual positions, and admonishes the assembled Yugoslav workers and peasants "to fuck merrily and without fear! Let the sweet current run up your spin, sway your hips! Even the smallest child will tell you that the sweetest place is between the legs! Children and youth must be given the right of genital happiness! Intertwined lovers radiate a bluish light, the same light as was seen by the astronauts in outer space! FREE LOVE WAS WHERE THE OCTOBER REVOLUTION FAILED!" SC

    Beneath the film's lighthearted frivolity and marvelous humor lurks a more serious ideological intent: opposition to all opressive social systems, East or West, the removal of prurience from sex and a final squaring of accounts by the new radicals with the now reactionary Russian regime. In a poignant sequence that will live in film history, the girl, Milena Dravic (in love with the Russian skater, and rejected by him because of his fear of sex and ascetic devotion to a lifeless myth of revolution), starts beating him blindly, repeatedly, while delivering some of the sad- dest, most disillusioned indictments yet offered against Stalinism in any film, and denounces his revolution as "a puny lie disguised as a great historic truth". Thus Makavejev is quite accurate in describing his film as "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 film is also a tribute to the ultimate power of ideas over institutions; the production of such a work in Yugoslavia contributes to the regime's evolution. Its eventual showing there -- impossible at the time of writing -- would testify to the regime's self-confidence and its realization of the film's unquestionably revolutionary stand. SC

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