(aka 'W.R. - Misterije organizma')

Directed by Dusan Makavejev
Yugoslavia / West Germany 19


  What does the energy harnessed through orgasm have to do with the state of communist Yugoslavia circa 1971? Only counterculture filmmaker extraordinaire Dušan Makavejev has the answers (or the questions). His surreal documentary-fiction collision WR: Mysteries of the Organism begins as an investigation into 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.


A dense film that cuts up footage of a primary plot of two young Yugoslavian girls, one a politico and the other a sexpot, and an affair with a visiting Russian skater. Mixing metaphors of Russia's relationship with Yugoslavia, intercut with footage and interviews with Wilhelm Reich and Al Goldstein of Screw magazine. The film applies Reich's theories of Orgone energy and analogies of Stalinism as a form of Freudian sexual repression. Also known as W.R. The Mysteries of the Organism in English was banned in Yugoslavia shortly after it was made.


Theatrical Release: June 1971 (Berlin International Film Festival) 

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DVD Review: Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC

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CLICK to order from:

Distribution Criterion Collection - Spine #389 - Region 1 - NTSC
Runtime 1:24:18 
Video 1.33:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.45 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.


Audio English (Dolby Digital 2.0) 
Subtitles English, None

Release Information:
Studio: Criterion Home Video

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1

Edition Details:

• Audio commentary assembled from Raymond Durgnat's 1999 book on the film
• Hole in the Soul, Makavejev’s 1994 tragicomic autobiographical short film, originally made for the BBC
• New and archival video interviews with Makavejev
• 16-page liner notes booklet with an essay by critic Jonathan Rosenbaum: WR, Sex and the Art of Radical Juxtaposition

DVD Release Date: June 19th, 2007

Keep Case
Chapters: 24




Like Sweet Movie, Criterion states that this is a 'high-definition digital transfer, supervised and approved by director Dušan Makavejev' . It is full frame, 1.33:1, and is picture-boxed (see our full description of 'pictureboxing' in our Kind Hearts and Coronets review). The transfer is progressive but exhibits some faint digital noise. Occasionally skin tones are quite reddish. Overall it visually looked acceptable and it sports optional English subtitles. The English mono audio (also an optional Serbo-Coration track) is unremarkable but is probably close to the way it was produced - it sounded clean and fairly clear.  

Supplements include a highly interesting audio commentary assembled from Raymond Durgnat's 1999 book on the film. It is read very smoothly and occasionally follows the onscreen activity. It was a bit stiff though and highly academic. There are appropriate gaps. As well the 52 minute short Hole in the Soul, Makavejev’s 1994 tragicomic autobiographical film, originally made for the BBC, is included. There are also two very good interviews with Makavejev (one new with Peter Cowie interviewing and one vintage from 72' - about 30 minutes each).

I enjoyed this film much more than Sweet Movie, - very amusing and quite adventurous - very much in the spirit of a bold revolutionary cinema - risqué bordering on challenging censorship limitations. I had a real sense of Buñuel while watching. Highly recommended! 

Gary W. Tooze



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Distribution Criterion Collection - Spine #389 - Region 1 - NTSC


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