Daisies (1966)
June 14, 2015 10:48 PM - Subscribe

"Věra Chytilová’s 1966 film Daisies is a madcap, Dadaist explosion of a movie that represents the Czech New Wave at its most formally radical and kookily captivating." (Michael Koresky)

Part of the Criterion On Hulu film club.
posted by Ian A.T. (8 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
OK first of all that was fucking weird. Just to get that out there. My partner on the couch next to me just kept saying "What the fuck?!" which was totally justified. I was worried for 10 or 15 minutes that it would only be weird and not have any substance but I was turned around pretty quickly after that on several scores:

Just pure visuals: there are so many iconic shots that evoke fashion spreads, advertising, or fine art. The framed images of the girls posing for the camera - or mocking camera poses, were evocative, funny, but also often beautiful.

The montage/collage work was great: Especially sticking with me are the butterflies (and the crazy butterfly/sexuality scene), the locks, the weird curly stuff that ended up on their heads.

The content: situationism? Political statement? Ironically given it’s being censored, it seems pretty anti-capitalist to my modern, US-American eye. Gleeful, meaningless consumption, destruction of beauty? Or maybe the moral at the end, about trampling on lettuce, indicates this is just about youth gleefully destroying mores of the old? Or, the urge to destroy is a creative urge? Or, feminism, duh?

I don’t know, it was pretty great in it's super weird way, and eventually quite watchable.
posted by latkes at 7:26 AM on June 15, 2015 [1 favorite]

Also, I'm comparing this with The Fireman's Ball which is my main other experience with the Czech New Wave, and also involves wanton destruction, over consumption and things being engulfed by fire. What a weird time it must have been in Czechoslovakia in the mid-60s!
posted by latkes at 7:32 AM on June 15, 2015

I probably won't be able to post my thoughts until tomorrow—though they're largely in line with latkes'—but I wanted to quickly say thanks to The Great Big Mulp for suggesting this film.

Movies like this are exactly why I wanted to start the club: to watch films that I probably wouldn’t have watched on my own. When words like "Dadaist" show up in a film’s description my thumb begins hovering on the back button of my Apple TV remote. I know I’m all the poorer for an attitude like that, but I’ve been burned so many times before...

However, thanks to the GBM's suggestion, I watched this and really dug it. More tomorrow!
posted by Ian A.T. at 11:25 AM on June 15, 2015 [2 favorites]

latkes: I don’t know, it was pretty great in it's super weird way, and eventually quite watchable.
It's an achievement in film, but I can't agree that it gets watchable. If you don't give up on it in the first ten minutes, as I almost did, it gets bearable. I found the whole thing just irritating. The score and sound design especially drove me right up the wall.

On the other hand, the movie is very well shot and directed. I wasn't kidding about it being an achievement. It's obvious a great deal of care went into the composition of the shots, as well as the symbolism of the images.

I concur with Ian A.T. Thank you, The Great Big Mulp. I wouldn't have watched this movie, or hung in there with it, were it not for being included in this club. I can't say I liked the movie, but I'm glad I watched it.

P.S. “Right, men. Confuse the… cat.”
posted by ob1quixote at 3:18 AM on June 16, 2015

Maybe I have weird taste but I never once thought that it was anything like "unwatchable".
posted by octothorpe at 4:16 AM on June 16, 2015

(Disclaimer that I have only partially rewatched it so far, because people keep bothering me!)

I do like this movie, but it confuses me. It is shaped like a manifesto or a morality tale, but I feel like it's going over my head, like I'm missing something.

There's something about the way the Maries are childlike, and not in that sort of charming, 'quirky' way women are often portrayed in film, but petulant, impulsive, selfish, and even destructive. Like the dark side of the manic pixie dream girl, articulated back in 1966.

I don't know if I love or hate that, but I do know I'm not ambivalent about it.

But I definitely feel like I'm missing some political aspect due to an unfamiliarity with the nuances of Czech politics and culture at the time. I know this was just prior to the Prague Spring because it says so on Wikipedia. I don't know how it fits in, though.
posted by ernielundquist at 2:08 PM on June 16, 2015

I'm afraid I didn't re-watch this, but I posted an FPP on Daisies a while back, linking to a few things related to it that I thought were interesting: an informative obituary for Vera Chytilová; Bliss Cua Lim, "Dolls in Fragments: Daisies as Feminist Allegory;" and Katarina Soukup, "Banquet of Profanities: Food and Subversion in Vera Chytilová's Daisies."
posted by Monsieur Caution at 2:48 AM on June 22, 2015 [4 favorites]

Okay, so last week I started a post responding after the first few comments and just realized after a week away from my laptop that I hadn't sent it. Here it is and then I'll probably go back and read all the comments and previous post:

I found it both beautiful and entertaining and definitely not "unwatchable" but I can totally understand how others feel that way and I doubt I'll ever watch it again. Parts of it were very trying but it also was made in such a way (competently at least, beautifully at best) that it had that "well, I've got to see where this goes" energy that pulled me along. (Related: it really knew exactly how long I was interested in these particular games and seemed to generally end both scenes and the movie itself near that point.)

Honestly, in some ways it felt like "tumblr: the movie" if tumblr had existed in the 1960s. (I am a late-converted fan of tumblr so this is a compliment) It doesn't exactly make its arguments in a way that always feels like it is making a coherent point, but each of its moments felt worthwhile.

I do like that the Marias at some point went from cute and fun to pretty unlikeable and I feel like this is intentional.

Overall, I thought it was mostly fun, and like I said about Tokyo Story, it very much feels like a movie that could only be made in its time and place.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 12:30 PM on June 22, 2015

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