“If there’s something you don’t like, don’t keep to the rules – break them. I’m an enemy of stupidity and simple-mindedness in both men and women and I have rid my living space of these traits.”–Vera Chytilová in a 2000 interview with The Guardian
DIRECTED BY: Vera Chytilová
FEATURING: Ivana Karbanová, Jitka Cerhová, Jan Klusák
PLOT: Two doll-like young women in bikinis theorize that because the entire world is becoming spoiled, they will be spoiled too. They set off on a series of anarchic adventures, many of which involve them permitting old men to take them to expensive dinners. Their surreal, sexy excursions are interrupted by Dadaist collages and sudden changes of film stock, and climax in a slapstick pie fight.
- Although Daisies is frequently interpreted as a feminist statement, director Vera Chytilová denied that was her intent and preferred to describe the movie as “a philosophical documentary in the form of a farce.”
- In 1966 film composer Jan Klusák made his acting debut in two films: a small role as the butterfly-collecting beau in Daisies and in the major part of an absurd apparatchik in A Report on the Party and Guests.
- Writer Ester Krumbachová co-scripted the screenplays for both Daisies and Report and also designed the sets and costumes for Daisies.
- The Czechoslovakian censors banned Daisies in 1967 (at the same meeting in which they banned Jan Nemec’s overtly political A Report on the Party and Guests). Chytilová made one more feature in 1969, the equally surreal We Eat the Fruit of the Trees of Paradise, after which she was forbidden to make any more films for six years until she successfully appealed the government ban on her work.
INDELIBLE IMAGE: Marie II (I think; the blond one with the circlet of wildflowers) modestly trying to hide her nudity behind her suitor’s butterfly cases is an image that’s so highly charged it graces every DVD cover. The picture perfectly encapsulates Daisies‘ knowingly naughty innocence.
WHAT MAKES IT WEIRD: Watching the bright colors and bratty joie de vivre of Marie I and II as they slash and burn their way through square society, cutting up phallic symbols and the film stock itself with scissors, it’s hard to believe that Daisies wasn’t produced under the influence of drugs. Made a year before and half a world away from San Francisco’s Summer of Love, this proto-flower power film nonetheless captures the anarchic spirit of Sixties psychedelia; it’s a relic from an alternate universe populated by sexy Czech hippy chicks with serious cases of the munchies. Alternately described as a feminist manifesto, a consumerist satire, and a Dadaist collage, it seems that no one—possibly including the director herself—is quite clear on what Daisies is supposed to be about. Does it matter? No, it doesn’t.
Trailer for the 2022 restoration of Daisies
COMMENTS: Imagine, for a moment, that you’re a censor in Communist Czechoslovakia in Continue reading 116. DAISIES (1966)