Sunday, November 6, 2011
W.R.: Mysteries of the Organism
Today I watched W.R.: Mysteries of the Organism, directed by Dušan Makavejev in 1971. I don't really know if I understood anything in the movie, possibly exacerbated by the fact that colds make me feel pretty out of it, but I sort of liked it. Most people I know would be probably put off by the film, but I'm not really the type of person who is shocked by nudity or sexuality, I guess. I probably was more confused by the movie because I'm not familiar with Wilhelm Reich, who has like, a mini-documentary going on in the film.
I don't really know how to explain the plot. Even Ebert seems to dance around the movie a little bit, writing mostly about his experiences with the director. The film starts out as a documentary about that Wilhelm Reich guy, who I didn't really learn anything about. He seemed like he was some sort of Freud type of guy who felt that there was some sort of powerful cosmic energy called "orgone" and generally did a lot of research and thinking about orgasms. Also, there's a plot having to do with two roommates, one whom is in love with a famous ice skater. There's other little bits and pieces in the film as well, that don't really have to do with any main plot, but have to do with sex and sexuality.
I wish I could say why I liked watching the movie, but I'm even at a little bit of a loss for words on that. I just thought it was interesting, I guess. One of the roommates goes on some rant about how if we repress sexuality, we become repressed and our society will turn to violence and addiction instead. That it's stupid to deny people pleasure, at any age. And why? Is pleasure dangerous? Revolutionary, even, like she implies? There must be something to it, since it's pretty hard to find films that deal with sex and nudity that haven't been banned or edited, or even to find a conversation about sex or sexuality that is frank. Is there actually something powerful inside our bodies that might be dangerous if tapped into, so we must always be shamed for our natural feelings? Hmm. It's interesting stuff, no matter how you feel about it.
It's interesting that the movie was banned right after it was made, but honestly, nudity is still considered something incredibly subversive and shocking. This probably would get a NC-17 today, and wouldn't be released in any theaters, or it would have to just be "unrated", which comes with it's own set of problems. Isn't it weird how uncommon it is to see something as normal as a human body in film? I can't say I've seen many mainstream movies that don't treat male nudity as anything other than a joke. I guess it can bother some people, but I'm one of those nutty "sexuality is probably way less harmful to watch than violence" people - I'm always sort of shocked at how movies with nudity (even in a non-sexual context) get slapped with R ratings or worse, and movies with a lot of violence and death can hang around at a P-13, no problem. I guess the movie just made me think of this sort of thing, especially during the "famous" scene where a woman makes a plaster cast of a man's penis. I couldn't really figure out why it was notorious other than the fact that it shows a penis for longer than five seconds and I don't know, lot's of people have those, it's not that big of a deal, yeah?
I don't know, I just liked the movie. It was trippy to watch and gave me a lot of interesting things to think about, even if they weren't super related to the plot. But that's me, the type of person who has seen Shortbus more than once (and even watched it in a screenwriting class). Stuff like that doesn't bother me, and I really honestly think that issues concerning sexuality are pretty interesting, yunno, in a scholarly type of way. Sexuality is something that our society is pretty obsessed with but still, shames people for having it. I could kind of keep going on about this, but a film blog probably isn't the best place off-centered but well-intentioned rants. Now I feel like Ebert, having written about the film without really talking about the film. I guess for me, it really just made me think about a lot of things, triggered by the images and history of the film. I really liked it because I like movies that make me think about different things. That's me, and I guess this was just my wacky experience with this movie. :)
Have any thoughts about W.R.: Mysteries of the Organism? Share them in the comments!
Ebert's Great Movie Essay on W.R.: Mysteries of the Organism
Buy it on Amazon
(it's also on Hulu, too).