Close Up

13 February - 1 March 2019: Close-Up on Vera Chytilová


“If there's something you don't like, don't keep to the rules-break them.” – Vera Chytilová

"Former philosophy student, fashion model, and script-girl, Vera Chytilová became one of Europe's most innovative filmmakers in the 1960s. The Czech director's formally rigorous aesthetic of organized chaos and visual symbolism successfully merged the traditions of narrative cinema with the complex experimentation of the avant-garde. Variously compared by critics to Fellini, the psychedelic Jodorowsky, and New York underground filmmaker Ken Jacobs, she gained fame with the surrealist feminist classic Daisies and the unclassifiable allegory Fruit of Paradise. Labeled “cynical” by the Czechoslovak government, she was forbidden to work for years until finally re-emerging in the late 1970s. Nothing is as it “should be” in a Chytilová film, but then, nothing is as it should be in the world she observes and comments on. Her work, as film historian Yvette Biro wrote, “denies conventional rules. It is a rigorously calculated frenzy...a macabre play, and if it succeeds in surprising the spectator constantly, it is not due to the irrational intrigue, but to its peculiar development from the grotesque into an existential desperateness.”” – Jason Sanders

A Bagful of Fleas
Vera Chytilová, 1962, 43 min
Czech with English subtitles

In A Bagful of Fleas, young factory girls defying imposed rules are played by non-professionals and the film shot in a free-wheeling cinéma vérité style. read more

Vera Chytilová, 1963, 42 min
Czech with English subtitles

Chytilová's graduation project involves a young woman who quits medical school to become a model. Drawing on her own experiences as a "walking mannequin," Chytilová explores a world of repetitive rituals, and one woman's courage to escape it. read more

Something Different
Vera Chytilová, 1963, 81 min
Czech with English subtitles

Something Different follows two women – one strand as a documentary of a gymnast in gruelling training (real life Olympic gold-medallist Eva Bosáková), whilst the second is the fiction of a discontented housewife (Věra Uzelacová). read more

Vera Chytilová, 1966, 74 min
Czech with English subtitles

Věra Chytilová’s classic of surrealist cinema is the most adventurous and anarchic Czech movie of the 1960s. Two young women, both named Marie, revolt against a degenerate, decayed and oppressive society, attacking symbols of wealth and bourgeois culture. A riotous, punk-poem of a film that is both hilarious and mind-warpingly innovative, it has influenced generations of filmmakers. read more

Fruit of Paradise
Vera Chytilová, 1970, 95 min
Czech with English subtitles

Chytilová followed her iconic film Daisies with the even more extraordinary Fruit of Paradise. Examining issues of truth and lies, friendship and betrayals she creates, through a symbolic retelling of the Adam and Eve story, a ravishing tapestry of ideas, textures, and visual tropes set to composer Zdeněk Liška's incredible score. Acknowledged since as a key film of the Czech New Wave, Fruit of Paradise is a cinematic tour de force of sound, colour and technique by a group of artists working at the peak of their powers. read more

Vera Chytilová, 1998, 116 min
Czech with English subtitles

A daring black comedy of violence, violation and veterinary practice. A vet, Lenka, after being raped by two men, uses her particular expertise to exact her revenge. Chytilová was a filmmaker with a deserved reputation as provocateur and philosopher and Traps is an enquiry by both 'victim' and filmmaker on the social structures and attitudes which condone such a violation. read more