Friday, February 09, 2007

W.R.: Mysteries of the Organism (1971)

Or, A Whole Lot of Density in Search of a Little Clarity. Dusan Makavejev's notorious freewheeling sociopolitical cluster bomb has a lot to say about political freedom, sexual freedom, Marxism, love, Wilhelm Reich and goodness knows what else, and there's nothing wrong with that. I just wish he wasn't trying to say it all in the same breath. Certainly the film is gregarious enough that watching it never feels like a chore or a civics lesson (unlike, say, Ecstasy of the Angels). Makavejev's approach to this material belies an ingrained prankster spirit and a jovial intellectual restlessness; because of this exuberance, the film is never boring and frequently quite funny. (The scene where the eternally thwarted Radmilovic crashes through a wall to interrupt the film's two lovers, in essence standing in for every societal condition that serves to frustrate simple desires, is some sort of deranged genius.) But I'm not convinced that the film's wealth of content gels into anything substantial. It's a barrage of images and ideas that spills out far past its framework, so that Makavejev just looks heedless and sloppy. Part of me thinks I'm being mean and that there's just too much here to parse on one viewing; another part thinks that there was too much for even Dusan himself to parse.

Grade: C+


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