I’d like to just write “what the fuck?” here in regards to this film, but I feel I should make more of an effort than that… I tried looking up the Czech translation of the words “what the fuck”, which would’ve been appropriate here, but couldn’t find one, so too bad. At least I read a bit of the DVD booklet essay before watching and noted the reference to Valerie having her first period at the start of the film, which I was glad I did read or else the film might’ve made even less sense than it did otherwise. It put me in mind of Marienbad, if only in terms of how good it looks while being so hard to actually understand, though to be sure it does so in an opposite way: 1.33 aspect ratio rather than anamorphic, colour rather than monochrome, and full of pastoral warmth rather than the enclosed coldness of Resnais’ hotel… Also I don’t think Resnais evokes surrealism in the way Jaromil Jires does here; though Jires himself apparently wasn’t part of the Czech surrealist movement, the author of his source novel was. But I really don’t know what to say about this. Eastern European cinema is something that has, by and large, passed me by (Russian/Soviet cinema being a relative exception), so I’m not au fait with the Czech New Wave except by repute; I know this was a very late example (actually went into production a year after the Soviet tanks rolled in) but not much more than that. To be honest, I’m not even sure of the extent to which I did or didn’t like it (apart from the purely visual aspect), it’s that sort of film… “what the fuck” indeed. I can see this needing repeat viewings.
Valerie and Her Week of Wonders (1970)