Around The World In 100 Films – Serbia

List Item: Watch films from 100 different nations
Progress: 47/100

List Item: Watch all of the “1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die”
Progress: 737/1007Title: W.R. – Mysteries of the Organism (W.R. – Misterije organizma)
Director: Dušan Makavejev
Year: 1971
Country: Yugoslavia

Note: Wikipedia and other sources have classed this as a Serbian film, so I’m going with that to help me add another country to this list.

It’s been nearly a year since I added a country to this list and the one today wasn’t exactly planned. My husband said that he fancied seeing a film from Eastern Europe, so I picked something that I thought was a comedy from the Soviet Union. Turns out I was wrong on a whole heap of levels as this was made in Yugoslavia (not the USSR) and rather than being a comedy… this may be one of those films that defies genre.

When you read descriptions online, you’ll see W.R. – Mysteries of the Organism described as a satire. It’s these elements, and some of the director’s comments when interviewed about this film, that lead to his being forced into exile and this film being banned by the state. This satire, however, is a small part of this movie and is probably the least interesting to a modern audience.

The film itself is a mishmash of documentary, satirical narrative and some more arty pieces. The general theme of the piece is one surrounding communism and sexuality with the W.R. of the title coming from the pseudo-scientist Wilhelm Reich (the man that Kate Bush based her song ‘Cloudbusting’ on). It’s like one of those mixed media art pieces you may find in modern art galleries, but with unsimulated sex and a lot of people engaging in some disturbing scream therapy.

It’s actually quite hard to write about W.R. – Mysteries of the Organism as, like Disney’s Make Mine Musicthere are parts I responded well to and others that bored me. If this had ended up staying as a documentary about Wilhelm Reich, I would have enjoyed it so much more as was a weird and interesting figure. Similarly, if this had been an documentary abut sex in art (as some of the interviews would have learnt themselves to) it would have been good enough.

The mixture, however, keeps you on your toes but can be a bit too disorientating at times. This being the film that got a man exiled from his country until the fall of the communist government does lend this a special piece of street cred in cinema history – but it’s so inconsistent that I’m still not entirely sure what I watched.

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