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10 - 23 May 2019: Valerie and Her week of Wonders


Valerie and her Week of Wonders
Jaromil Jireš, 1970, 73 min
Czech with English subtitles

"Valerie’s screenwriter and production designer, Ester Krumbachová, secret auteur of the Czechoslovak New Wave, must be given equal credit with director Jaromil Jireš for this lush, decadent fairytale. A colorful (mostly purple) extravaganza set in the 18th century (or is it the 19th?) amid festivities in a small village filled with witches and vampires, this was the national film movement’s last gasp after the Soviet crackdown in 1968.

The tale of a 13-year-old girl’s sexual awakening against a Freudianized Alice in Wonderland, Wizard of Oz or Brothers Grimm backdrop, except more evil – more like one of Angela Carter’s feminist reworkings – Valerie sets up a series of magical battles for its tween protagonist’s future happiness, which is linked to her erotic longing. Valerie is excessively creepy and painfully beautiful, a unique work stocked with pearls, wine and green apples, its scenes often glimpsed through keyholes. Easy to see how it confused bureaucrats, the film escaped censure. It could not be made in any country today." – A.S. Hamrah

Part of our season on the Czechoslovak New Wave