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WR: Mysteries of the Organism (The Criterion Collection)

4.1 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews

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Frequently Bought Together

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Editorial Reviews

A sexual encounter between a Yugoslav beautician and a champion Russian skater demonstrates the theories of psychoanalyst Wilhelm Reich.

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  • Hole in the Soul, Makavejev’s 1994 tragicomic autobiographical short film, originally made for the BBC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

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: Multiple Formats, 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: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000OPPAEC
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #72,819 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "WR: Mysteries of the Organism (The Criterion Collection)" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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Format: VHS Tape Verified Purchase
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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Format: DVD
The plot concentrates on Wilhelm Reich's controversial vital energy... Reich believes that unless a mysterious universal phenomenon called "orgone energy" is discharged naturally through sexual union, obsessions and compulsions will erupt...

The film is a collection of these sorts of neuroses, done with exceptional skill and comic action, set in modern-day Yugoslavia... The main character is Milena Dravic, who shouts from her heavily populated apartment: "Politics is for those whose orgasm is incomplete!" Complimenting the idealistic Milena are two female sexologists who are obsessed with the physical nature of human relations...

The film is a blast at repression of any kind--political or moral--and a poem to uninhibited sexual intercourse... Repression sickens and enslaves, whereas nature's physical pleasure sets the human spirit free...

There is an abundance of vivacious sexual encounters, much nudity, and constant immersing into other social taboos, but the film's coup de grâce is a natural mixing of erotica, humor, and politics...
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Format: DVD
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 undergraduate there. I saw it for a second time in Albany, NY at a New York Writer's Institute showing complete with the presence of the director himself, the great Dusan Makavejev. The film has stuck with me ever since.

Yes, its not a Hollywood film with a nice little o so fake narrative tied up in colourful ribbons and bows. Yes, its not a documentary of Wilhelm Reich and shouldn't be viewed as such; only a true believer could mistake it as such or condemn it for not treating the totem figure with an aura of sacredness. What it is is the best collage satire (Vertov meets Bunuel if you need a label you can get a handle on)I have ever seen. Though Sweet Movie has garnered more viewer comments for me WR is Makavejev's high water mark.

By the way, I seem to remember the film as having more scenes than what the Criterion release does. Does anyone else have this sense?
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