wr · mysteries of the organism
A lunatic, to be sure, but what drove him mad?
A terribly eloquent biography of Wilhelm Reich, who is vindicated in his folly, and by extension America.
Herzog’s Stroszek is very closely related.
Hitler and Stalin etc. are a very considerable inducement to madness as a form of escape, Reich is implicitly regarded as a casualty.
“A most unusual film” (Variety).
Ebert, a great admirer, did not think of “the film as being serious about Reich, or anything else,” although at first he had ascribed to it a Reichian “argument” (Chicago Sun-Times).
Jonathan Rosenbaum (Chicago Reader) sees a “most radical rethinking of Marx and Freud”, his colleague Dave Kehr “an analysis of Stalinist propaganda films as displaced pornography.” Time Out cannot find “anything interesting about sex, power politics, or the relation between them.”
Like the man who still believed in crop circles, David Bienstock of the New York Times was outraged by “a ludicrous and negative picture of Reichian therapy.”
The sustained divorcement of Mr. Dollars and Anna Planeta leads to a breakdown only superficially mitigated in the European view by a rapprochement under the “Ode to Joy” (in America, as Russell notes in Crimes of Passion, the “New World” Symphony).
The two elements, one helicopter-borne, of course, the other aboard the Survival with Karl Marx as figurehead, have pleasing aspects from a definite satirical perspective, such as a project to buy Niagara Falls. “I’m gonna renovate it, redecorate it, get rid of the water, turn off the falls... I’m gonna install an electronic, synthetic, laser movin’-picture image in livin’ color!” On the other side, Makavejev reveals the famous whispered line in Rossen’s Lilith, among other things.
It’s nearly the good ship Lollipop, Anna’s craft. Is she afraid of the past?
“I brought all this sugar here, but the bitter taste still lingers.” One can’t hide any markings on the trail, in any event.
“What about the witnesses? The witnesses must disappear.” Katyn is evidence of this.
Hunger is very sexy, she finds. A sailor from the Potemkin dies laughing. “At last, a sexual proletarian!”
Peter Brook’s The Persecution and Assassination of Jean-Paul Marat as Performed by the Inmates of the Asylum at Charenton under the Direction of the Marquis de Sade is certainly a factor.
Her murders catch up with Anna, Miss World (formerly Miss Canada) goes before the Mitchell camera to sell chocolate as it has never been sold before (the sailor looks on, the dead awaken).
Vincent Canby of the New York Times, “heavy-handed, obscure, unfunny, boring, self-indulgent and not terribly stimulating on any level.”
Variety, “provocative but also arbitrary.”
Roger Ebert (Chicago Sun-Times), “I keep on thinking about it even while I know I’m not getting anywhere.”
Time Out, “has not aged well... only served to put Makavejev’s career back”.
Which is to say that critics who stumbled over wr · mysteries of the organism came a full cropper here, missing among other things “Is There Life on Earth?” (music Manos Hadjidakis) and Sami Frey’s great number on the Eiffel Tower, “Macho”.