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Directed by Dušan Makavejev

Yugoslavia, West Germany 84 mins.

A tragic figure in the history of psychiatry, Wilhelm Reich is often credited with sparking the fire of the sexual revolution with his theories of orgone energy and body psychotherapy. Makavejev trains his camera on Reich’s orgone accumulators and their patients, illustrating the radicality of Reich’s ideas through cinema. However, Makavejev has other things on his mind, like the idiosyncratic attempt at sexual liberation undertaken by a young Yugoslavian woman as she seeks out a Russian celebrity ice skater who goes by the name Vladimir Ilyich. Through this twin portrait, Makavejev pairs a staunch USSR-style Communist ethos with freewheeling Western sexual politics—a collision that only cinema can adequately conjure. “What remains exhilarating (and no doubt unsettling to many) about WR forty years after its release is the fact that the film provides the audience tools with which it can formulate its own rational critique. [Raymond] Durgnat’s metaphor of the ‘adventure playground’ is more apt than ever in locating the locus of a film that—to employ a film studies cliché—not only ‘resists closure’ but also resists authority, whether political or personal, in every shot.”—Richard Porton, LOLA.