Thursday, February 2, 2012

#389: WR: Mysteries of the Organism

(Dusan Makavejev, 1971)

After watching Sweet Movie, Makavejev's follow-up to this more highly regarded film, I pretty much knew what to expect here: a bunch of freeform scenes tied together simply by association that confront the dual threats of capitalism and communism that clash with the sexual freedom demanded of the late 60s and early 70s. Spoiler alert: that's exactly what the movie is.

Maybe it's because I watched it after Sweet Movie so the novelty was lost, but I liked the later movie much more. Though both films have plenty of characters shouting their sexually tinged political statements into the air at no one and everyone in particular, WR: Mysteries of the Organism seems a little bit more weighed down with these moments, unable to merge form and content as seamlessly as Sweet Movie. And unlike a similarly unconventional biopic, Mishima (which looks like a by-the-numbers Hollywood blockbuster compared to this movie), I don't get a sense of the subject's beliefs or life through the specific choices in the film.

I get why these movies are in the collection, but I wonder how much relevance they have in the modern world, and I especially wonder how much audiences will connect with them once people who were born after the fall of the Berlin Wall begin to examine cinema more closely. This doesn't make the films any less worthy as historical artifacts, but it lessens their impact as timeless artistic statements.

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