Sunday, April 13, 2008

"Wilhelm Reich: Mysteries of the Organism", film by Dusan Makavejev

Very good experimental/hippy film by Yugoslavian director about Wilhelm Reich, with a lot of attention devoted to the political ideas connected to the sexual ideas. Takes an irreverent and critical idea both to the relationship of Reich to his political ideas and the relationship of those ideas to Yugoslavia and in turn the relation of Yugoslavia to the Stalinist and Post-Stalinist USSR.

Funny, featuring a very strange Tupi Kupferberg from "The Fugs", as well as psychedelic imagery.

Interviews Reich's widow Eva, goes to Rangley Maine and examines "Organon", the laboratory that Reich established for his energy theories. Also interviews Reich biographer Myron Sharaf, Reich's son, and some of the people of Rangley. Then goes on to show therapy in action via Alexander Lowen, founder of the neo-Reichian "Bioenergetics", who studied with Reich. Contextualizes Reich's ideas as well as his persecution and final death due to the U.S. government.

That's the first half.

The second is composed of a film called "Sex Pol" which follows a devoted Reichian Communist in Yugoslavia as she attempts to spread the message, with fun being poked at her constantly through her giving speeches about sexual liberation and its relationship to socialism while her room mate fucks random guys. This is the part that examines the bigger political implications of Reich's ideas as seen from people who grew up and lived under a socialist society.

Incidentally, the film was made in 1971, while Tito was still alive, and is an interesting testament to how free expression was in Yugoslavia during that time, since in the U.S. it would still, in today's day and age, be considered too controversial and experimental to be released.
People would rise up and protest this film in the U.S. if it hit a wide release today, yet it was made by a director living in a Communist country, and was partially filmed there as well.

The problem with getting this is that formally it's completely unavailable, completely and totally, with not even collectors of obscure films like Scarecrow Video having copies but....
Informally I hear that it can be acquired through certain sites based in Northern Continental Europe that provide links to things while not actually hosting files.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

http://criterion.com/asp/release.asp?id=389

John Madziarczyk said...

Absolutely right.

Because it was released in 2007 and Scarecrow video in Seattle didn't get a copy until a few weeks ago I assumed that it was out of print.