Daisies (1966)

I think a few people were puzzled by Criterion putting this out as part of an Eclipse box rather than giving it a separate full release like Second Run did a few years earlier, although then again perhaps it makes more sense in the wider context of the Czech New Wave box set. If it makes sense at all, that is; director Vera Chytilova insisted firmly upon her creative freedom, and that freedom obviously encompassed the freedom not to make sense. Broadly the film is about two girls, both apparently called Marie, who come to the conclusion that the world is “spoiled”, and therefore they may as well be “spoiled” as well. A rampage of bad behaviour—much of it revolving around food in some way or other—ensues, although much of that bad behaviour is actually in the very form of the film itself. None of the usual sacred cows are respected here, least of all such small considerations as logic or the integrity of on-screen space; there’s moments of superfast cutting, switching from colour to b/w with various colour filters, rather random editing, misplaced sound effects, all of that and more. It’s quite mind-boggling to watch (and listen to), and I can understand Czech film censors freaking out at it, although this review notes that you actually can read a pro-Communist interpretation into these hijinks. These days Daisies seems to be viewed largely as a feminist statement, though Chytilova denies any such intention, which I think is interesting… though obviously I suppose she did kind of leave the film open to multiple readings like that. As for me, I found it enjoyable enough, although at the same time I’m not sure I found as much to it beneath the fluffy surface as others have done, and to be honest I’m kind of glad it’s only 76 minutes long, cos even at that length it was threatening to overstay its welcome…


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