Daisies (1966)

“Dedicated to Those Whose Sole Source of Indignation is a Messed-Up-Trifle.”

‘Daisies’, a 1966 Czechoslovakian movie directed by Věra Chytilová, is an avant-garde comedy following the adventures of two teenage girls as they seduce and let down a string of men. They party, eat food, break things and generally cause havoc. It’s an experimental film, the performances are heightened and the scenarios are clearly symbolic, filled with religious and political prelapsarian references. Chytilová uses different colours and tints to create a sense of carnival that embraces the playful performances by the two main characters. The film was banned by the authorities, apparently because of its riotous and decadent imagery, a fact that lends it a weight akin to Bernie Boston’s photograph of a carnation being pushed down the barrel of a gun during an anti-Vietnam demonstration. This, I think, is the true power of the film: protest, not through the use of the dark and apocalyptic, but through the use of colour and innocence. It’s short – which is probably a good thing considering it’s not easy to watch – whilst bright and, at times amusing, the childlike repetition of the characters and the lack of any kind of tether with reality makes it a difficult film to invest any emotion in. The highlight for me was the final scene: following a gluttonous food-orgy by the two girls, they return to clean up which entails them putting the broken plates and glasses back on the table in an approximation of their original state and them finally bringing a massive chandelier crashing down. It’s breezy, fun, at times infuriating and filled with symbolism that I only half understand.

Would I recommend it? On a visual level it is closest to ‘Funeral Parade of Roses’, but I’d watch it in a double-bill with ‘The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie’ to see what happens when characters are finally allowed to eat…

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