Though a unique moment in Czech cinema, Věra Chytilová's 'Daisies' hasn't stood the test of time
Writers: Vera Chytilová, Ester Krumbachová
Starring: Jitka Cerhová, Ivana Karbanová
Daisies constitutes a unique moment in Czech film, but one to which the years have not been kind. The most stylistically adventurous product of the Czech New Wave, Vera Chytilová’s would-be anarchic satire comes off today as something of a psychedelic relic, a noisily experimental wallow in the disjointed antics of two teenagers named Marie (Jitka Cerhová and Ivana Karbanová), whose response to a spoiled, destructive world is to be the most spoiled, destructive brats in it. They tease older men, muse abstractedly and stuff their faces amid much Dada and Day-Glo, culminating in an orgiastic pig-out at a sumptuous banquet that, the movie's final shot implies, is just a step down the socio-behavioral ladder from carpet-bombing other countries.
Daisies was officially condemned and suppressed for a year by the Communist authorities (one of the grounds was its reckless portrayal of wasting food, a touch more surreal than anything onscreen), and Chytilová was prevented from working for much of the following decade. These are not things to be taken lightly, but nor do they help one actually get through the film. As much symbolic weight as you want to give the Maries as feminist stand-ins or subversive, anti-materialist pranksters, they are strenuously, persistently unfunny. A little of them goes an awful long way; ditto the film's jump-cut freneticism. Interesting as a cultural artifact, perhaps, but as a movie it's pretty tiresome.
Runtime: 1 hour, 14 minutes
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