American Fable is ambitious, maybe too much so sometimes, but there's an intense pleasure in the boldness of the film's style.
If only we were not so rigid, not so unbending in our minds and bodies we could release our damned-up human energy in a glooorrrrrious outflowing of love and self-realization. And if we could do THAT, why ... we could not only achieve greater sexual satisfaction, but maybe even cure what ails Soviet Marxism, and solve the problems of American Puritanism, too. And have a good time.
That is as close as I can get to the argument of "WR: Mysteries of the Organism," an insanely brilliant comedy by one Dusan Makavejev. He has come this way before; his "Innocence Unprotected" won the 1968 Chicago International Film Festival, and "WR" took the best director award at the 1971 Chicago festival. It has also made the rounds of the other big festivals; around-the-clock screenings had to be scheduled at Cannes, there was an uproar at New York, it was banned in Yugoslavia and at the Venice Film Festival, etc.
Makavejev himself is a large, happy, open-faced Yugoslavian who says he is astonished that his film has caused such controversy. He is not really astonished at all, of course; his films are designed so that there's a little something in all of them to offend somebody. But with "WR" he has outdone himself, taking on the State Religions of two superpowers: Marxism (Russia) and psychiatry (America). In the East, his film was banned because it might offend the Russians. In the West, followers of Wilhelm Reich charged that Makavejev had cannibalized the work of that late persecuted genius. In England, they thought the film was pornographic. And so on.
"Maybe it is like a mirror," Makavejev said one late night while walking up Lincoln Av. "People hold it up to themselves and see reflected only what they are most offended by."