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WR: Mysteries of the Organism (The Criterion Collection) (1971)

Milena Dravic , Ivica Vidovic , Dusan Makavejev  |  Unrated |  DVD
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Milena Dravic, Ivica Vidovic, Jagoda Kaloper, Tuli Kupferberg, Zoran Radmilovic
  • Directors: Dusan Makavejev
  • Writers: Dusan Makavejev
  • Producers: Dusan Makavejev, Svetozar Udovicki
  • Format: Color, NTSC, Subtitled
  • Language: English, German, Russian, Serbo-Croatian
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Criterion Collection
  • DVD Release Date: June 19, 2007
  • Run Time: 84 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000OPPAEC
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #196,473 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "WR: Mysteries of the Organism (The Criterion Collection)" on IMDb

Special Features

  • New, restored high-definition digital transfer, supervised and approved by director Dušan Makavejev
  • Audio commentary
  • Hole in the Soul, Makavejev’s 1994 tragicomic autobiographical short film, originally made for the BBC
  • New and archival video interviews with Makavejev
  • New and improved English subtitle translation
  • An essay by critic Jonathan Rosenbaum

Editorial Reviews

What does the energy harnessed through orgasm have to do with the state of Communist Yugoslavia circa 1971? Only counterculture filmmaker extraordinaire Duan Makavejev has the answers (or the questions). His surreal documentary-fiction collision WR: Mysteries of the Organism begins as an investigation of the life and work of controversial psychologist and philosopher Wilhelm Reich and then explodes into a free-form narrative of a beautiful young Slavic girl’s sexual liberation. Banned upon its release in the director’s homeland, the art-house smash WR is both whimsical and bold in its blending of politics and sexuality.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
30 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Of course it's a distortion January 8, 2005
Format:VHS Tape
It's the heart-breaking narrative of Reich's persecution interwoven with moments that highlight the absurdity of sex that make this work so powerful. I saw it first in 1980 in the UK and that screening still reverberates.

Nothing against Mr. DeMeo, who's posted a comment complaining that the film is not historically accurate. I used to subscribe to DeMeo's mailing list and found him a bit humorless. I think the whole *point* of this is that it's a work of art, not a documentarian's take on Reich's work.

Say what you will about Makaveyev's work as a whole, this one is a winner.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars What I Am Curious Should Have Been August 19, 2008
Format:DVD
WR: Mysteries of the Organism (Dusan Makavejev, 1971)

Dusan Makavejev has the greatest name in all filmdom. I get it stuck in my head on a regular basis. Which has absolutely nothing to do with WR: Mysteries of the Organism, Makavejev's best-known film and one that appears on an impressive number of thousand-best lists, as well as in Roger Ebert's book Great Movies. Makavejev took a page from Vilgot Sjoman's I Am Curious and spliced documentary with sex comedy, but where Sjoman's flick is an unwatchable mess that takes itself way too seriously, Makavejev's gets the spice blend just right and comes up with a winner. It took over three decades for the film to find its way to a widely-available American DVD (thank you, Criterion), but it was well worth the wait.

The documentary portion is about Wilhelm Reich, German philosopher and nutcase who built his entire philosophy around the idea of sexual freedom being related to a (non-existent) substance called orgone. (Reich's books on the subjects of both sexuality and orgone have been in print on and off ever since he wrote them, and shouldn't be hard to find at all; they make for highly amusing reading if you're a philosophy geek.) The Reich Foundation and Reichians around the globe had about the same reaction to it as did Makavejev's own government, who banned it in record time after its release. And to be fair to them, it's hard not to imagine the irrepressible Makavejev not snickering behind his hand in the editing room as he was cutting this flick. Then again, you've got to wonder how the subjects felt after viewing Errol Morris' far more serious Gates of Heaven.
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36 of 50 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Bulat Okudzhava January 31, 2001
By EriKa
Format:VHS Tape
Reykjavik, Iceland Film Festival, September, 2000.
I was not sure what to expect from this. I am a longtime fan and student of all things Yugoslavian. I had seen Makavejev's comparatively commercial film A Night of Love prior to screening two of his more obscure films, Sweet Movie, which is nothing less than visually frightening and decidedly disturbing, and this, Mysteries of an Organism. With more disturbing visual imagery and borrowings from surreal fantasy, the second half of the film is more like a "film" in that it tells a story of a Yugoslav woman, who, like all women portrayed in the film, is very sexually liberated, and claims that this is so because all women have been justly liberated by the revolution and socialism in Yugoslavia. When she meets a visiting Russian figure skater, she realizes that the Soviet ideals of socialism are limiting and lead only to repression of the self. She tries to teach him that love and socialism are not at odds with each other, but are indeed intertwined. When they finally make love, he ends up killing her because his passions and love have been so repressed. The first half of the film, which is a bit excessive and strange, is more documentary in style, but it does illustrate the points that are made more eloquently in the second half of the film by probing the life of a man (whose name i cannot recall) who was demonised by the US government.
The screening in Reykjavik was luckily accompanied by the director himself explaining his ideas and what he hoped to accomplish. This is a fascinating film, a total departure from American, or really, any other films of any genre or nationality.
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16 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Organism or orgasm? July 21, 2002
Format:VHS Tape
I saw "WR: Mystery of the Organism " in my youth, say age 20, at a film festival one evening almost 30 years ago. I do remember it having a strange effect on me and having stirred my original interest, delving into the work of (WR), Dr. Wilhelm Reich, the alleged mad scientist who died in prison for what he believed in.
I have read maybe 12 to 15 different books on the subject of "Orgone Energy" and the good doctor over time. Some of WR's own works, which are psycho-sociological and way scientific at times, are a little hard to grasp. Mostly I've read the hip psuedo-scientific biographies and post-WR studies of which there were once several books available.
Some were especially written by the followers and practitioners of his life energy and psycho-sexual liberation work. Though I remember the movie using just the more titillating portions of his theories as part of a spoof and sexual comedy, I still felt like there was a sense of truth and amazement implied in the use of them in the story. (Unlike the "Orgasmatron scene", a take off and exaggeration of his orgone accumulators, in Woody Allen's futuristic farce "Sleeper".)
I think there may be a documentary about the making of the movie "WR": out there as well? I am suprised it or a revised production about Dr. Reich has not showed up on PBS or the Discovery Channel by now.
Anyway, I was glad to find that the VHS tape of the movie is available and am looking forward to seeing it again.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars The mysteries of orgone
I admit that I haven't bothered watching the whole film. Surrealist films aren't my thing. As for Yugoslavia, I always considered TV programs from that nation to be surprisingly... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Ashtar Command
5.0 out of 5 stars W.R....WILD AND RANDOM
I REALLY CAN'T SEE THE POINT OF THIS FILM, MAYBE BECAUSE I'M NOT YUGOSLAVIAN, WELL, IT'S STILL VISUALLY STUNNING, AND I SUGGEST IF YOU WANT A PORN MOVIE, AND YOU DON'T HAVE PLAYBOY... Read more
Published 16 months ago by HAN XIAO
5.0 out of 5 stars Not your typical Hollywood movie
Very interesting movie but a little complex. Had to watch it twice to comprehend the message. Many graphic sexual scenes but its not pornography. Read more
Published on June 26, 2011 by Tommy Wu
5.0 out of 5 stars Art house Weirdness fuses Sex and Communism
WR is one of the strangest movies I have ever seen, but it also ranks among the best. Makavejev blends both documentary and fictional narratives to create a movie that examines how... Read more
Published on August 4, 2009 by J. T. Estes
3.0 out of 5 stars A farcical work by a master of comic timing and sensual exhibition...
The plot concentrates on Wilhelm Reich's controversial vital energy... Reich believes that unless a mysterious universal phenomenon called "orgone energy" is discharged naturally... Read more
Published on January 18, 2009 by Roberto Frangie
4.0 out of 5 stars It's not like unraveling the mysteries of the Sasquatch...
The American Dream is Dead.

Philosophical film. Each scene, side by side, brings upon new sensations, new bold images, political messages, honest truths about our... Read more
Published on October 29, 2008 by A. Gyurisin
5.0 out of 5 stars Colllage satire at its best...
I was lucky enough to see WR for the first time at a film festival run by the Institute for Sexual Research (now the Kinsey Institute) at Indiana University when I was an... Read more
Published on November 29, 2007 by Ronald G. Helfrich Jnr
5.0 out of 5 stars Organization and sponteneity
This is the best subversive political film I've ever seen. It is the only film that puts sexuality in the political equation, much like Reich himself. Read more
Published on September 11, 2007 by Ira S. Moss
5.0 out of 5 stars A thouroughly strange and interesting experience in film
wr: mysteries of the organism is above all else something of an experiment in narrative structure.. the movie begins curiously as a pseudo-documentary and ends as an absurd... Read more
Published on August 13, 2007 by Stalwart Kreinblaster
2.0 out of 5 stars very weird.
This review is for the Criterion Collection DVD edition of the film.

WR: Mysteries of the Organism made in Yugoslavia as W.R. Read more
Published on July 19, 2007 by Ted
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