“The moment we cry in a film is not when things are sad but when they turn out to be more beautiful than we expected them to be.”
― Alain de Botton
Waiting on a workman to come by and cut up a downed tree – I wanted to rest a bit and take in a film – something streaming from the Criterion Collection. I decided to dive back into the Czech New Wave and chose what is often regarded as the last movie in that movement (It was released after the Soviets invaded the country and clamped down on artistic freedom and everything else) – Valerie and Her Week of Wonders.
The movie has been described as a fantasy film, as a horror film, as a coming-of-age film, as a vampire film, as a fairy tale, and as soft-core pornography. It is all that and… maybe… more.
What it is not is a linear consistent plot-driven film. It is a hallucination inside of a dream, jumping around, people change identities, die and come back to life. There are elements of lesbianism, incest, rape, reincarnation, magic, and eastern European folklore.
Valerie is a beautiful thirteen-year-old that comes of age (symbolized by drops of blood on blooming daisies) and is then thrown into a mystery of magical pearl earrings, a vampire grandmother, an evil presence that might be her father or her uncle or an anthropomorphic polecat. I guess what we are seeing is the symbolic introduction of the young girl to the mysterious world of adult sexuality – seen through a warped and horrific kaleidoscope.
It obviously is not a movie for everyone – but I’m not everyone and I liked it. It was a fun way to wile away a bit of time while waiting for something else to happen.