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Customer reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
26
4.3 out of 5 stars


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on 28 August 2008
This gorgeous masterpiece from Czechoslovakia - a haunting, dream-like fable of a girls awakening to womanhood - is one of the most striking, beautiful and disturbing films i've ever seen. It's a film i've often heard about and seen referenced, but never saw - it's a shame because this movie is amazing. Like a nightmareish Grimm's fairytale with added naughtiness.
And Lubis Fiscer's perfect music is some of the most beautiful ever committed to film.
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on 30 September 2012
Within fairytale and mythology are deeper meanings, stories illustrating our quest to get through life unscathed by its tribulations and challenges. Before the writer Perrault polished up many of our European fairy tales which eventually became, via other writers and storytellers, the child-friendly versions we have today, they were a lot darker and bloodier tales (often adapted themselves from more ancient stories). "Valerie & Her Week Of Wonders" director Jaromil Jires heads back to this era with a dark coming-of-age fantasy. Like the old Greek tales of Jason & The Argonauts, a metaphor for a boy's coming-of-age with lessons about sexuality and understanding the feminine, so "Valerie & Her Week Of Wonders" is a girl's sexual awakening in fairytale form with dark references to the masculine, told using the symbolism of that most sexual of nemeses, the vampire.

Valerie discovers the Nosferatu-style vampire revealing himself in male authority figures in her life; with the help of Eagle, her boyfriend/brother and archetypal "trickster" character and her magical earrings, she then has to confront the betrayal in her beautiful, pure grandmother's secret plan to use her as a sacrifice to the vampire to immortalise the grandmother and return her to her youth.

IMHO the film has that "bright but eerie" atmosphere of another (though very different in storyline) film of the same era, the Australian movie Picnic at Hanging Rock. A compelling adult fairy tale.
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on 14 April 2010
It is very confusing, even annoying, when Amazon 'bundle' reviews.

These reviews may be for the same film, but often they are for different DVD productions from different countries. These DVD productions can vary greatly depending on the quality of the source material.

So, firstly, let me state that my comments relate to the Second Run version in the UK.
I have two points.
1] The print source is pristine and looks absolutely magnificent, so if you read anything to the contrary, it's from a different DVD label.

2] The film is not cut, it is entire and complete. It's amazing that confusion, or should I say a lack of insight, over the narrative structure can lead to several paragraphs of wholly unfounded, ignorant and elaborate assertions about the films length, it's fate and supposed damage.

So make sure you are reading a review for the actual DVD version that you are thinking of buying.
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on 4 January 2009
If you bought a 500 page book with pages missing here and there for a total of 75 pages, you probably would have a hard time following the story. That seemed to be the case with the U.S. version of this movie. I am now set up to be able to watch movies from any region whether NTSC or PAL, and this is one of the first ones I bought from Amazon UK. [I live about 120 miles from Amazon.com world headquarters in Washington State. It was listed as an 85 minute version; when I ordered it, I received a copy with a different cover and it was only 73 minutes. If this ratio was accurate, that means that nearly 15% of the movie had been cut to make the 73 minute version. The longest I can find anyone else showing the movie is 77 minutes, and that from several different sources, which would make this U.K. version cut by about 5%. When Amazon UK checked into it further, they found that the 85 minute listing was in error, and without my asking, refunded my money.

Both my wife and I noticed several times when there were obvious cuts in 'Valorie,' such as where two lines of subtitles were on the screen less than 1/2 second. Cutting movies for the U.S. market is fairly common with European movies. The most massive cuts I've seen so far are with 'Crusade: A March Through Time' where the Netherlands version is 138 minutes, the German version is 125 minutes and the U.S. version is only 100 minutes! My best guess now is that the U.K. DVD issue of 'Valorie' is cut by only four minutes from a previous VHS version.

My best judgment now is that 'Valorie' in its theatrical run was 85 minutes. Since it was a movie from a Communist country, Czechoslovakia, it wasn't preserved in a proper manner for the twenty-plus years it would take for the country to be freed. Therefore, when it was able to be made into VHS or DVDs, eight minutes were too far deterioted to be used. Four more mintues were questionable, and might have been used in some versions. This was pared down, because of questionable quality, to make the 73 minute DVD that now seems to be the current version. Therefore, it would seem reasonable that many viewers would find the movie chopped up and confusing since it appears that about 15% has been lost from the theatrical version.

To comment on the movie itself, I would say that if you are a person who remembers your dreams and likes to think about them when awake, you'll find this movie familiar material, and you'll probably like it. If you don't remember your dreams, or ignore them because they seem so nonsensical, you probably won't like the movie.
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on 17 December 2009
I'm not at all familiar with Czechoslovakian new wave cinema, let alone films from that country, so this was a real awakening on my part as well as Valerie in the film. It's a wonderful film, more like a painting come to life than just a film. Imagine Nosferatu if directed by Jodorowsky and you're only halfway there. The plot as such concerns the sexual awakenings in 13 year old Valerie, as she experiences life through a waking dream, various authority figures and family members encounter Valerie, either threatening her, seducing her or appearing as vampires. Her only salvation appears to be a young man called Eagle, who could either be a dashing hero, or Valerie's brother, who tells her she is in possesion of magical earrings, that will protect her from danger. Whilst the film does leave the viewer with the question of how much if any of the film was Valerie's reality rather than her dream, it is a magical, very surreal piece of cinema, with lush visuals and a wonderful musical score, and is altogether an astounding film, that will leave the viewer happy and content. 5 out of 5.
A wonderful DVD too, with a booklet and nice extras.
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on 8 March 2013
I'm forever searching for films that expand on my already solid appreciation of the creativity in filmmakers such as Tarkovsky, Resnais, Lynch & Fellini. Often I'm disappointed when I think I've found something new, or fresh, and I find the world I'm seeking rarely exists. This film though, which was recommended to me, really surprised me. It is a superb and bizarre mash of cinematography and genres born out of the Czech New Wave (that I didn't even know existed). It has essences of the fairytale, vampire film, and fantasy all woven into a gothic dream that swings it's narrative in a delirious delicious mash of tones and atmospheres.

The film is 1hr 15mins long, which I think is an ideal length to introduce someone unaccustomed with this sort of cinema. I find that films of this ilk can sometimes be quite lengthy, sadly putting off new audiences at a glance that may enjoy them, if they only had a tiny push to delve into parts unknown. The short length, should not be underestimated as a selling point.

A great release from the Second Run DVD label, as they throw out into the market this little known gem of haunting macabre and unsettling eroticism. A film without borders or restraints that leaves you exhausted with it's beauty, pace and ideas. There's nothing else like it I've seen, and if there is I'd REALLY like to know about!
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on 16 November 2005
Eccentric Cult Classic
I suppose “Valerie” (1970) was a belated product of the Czech New Wave but it comes after the Prague Spring / Russian invasion. It was probably too surreal for the commissars & censors to bother with. In the West it became a cult favourite in the days when people smoked illicit substances at late night screenings in indie cinemas.
Valerie is the young heroine, she has her first period but fortunately she’s got these magic ear-rings, however everyone in her rustic village seems to be lusting with nature or turning into vampires. I hope that makes the plot clear. It must be something to do with that favourite 60s theme: “a young girl’s sexual awakening.” It’s quite effective in conjuring a sense of anxious adolescent reverie in which everything familiar becomes erotic or strange or both at the same time.
The film is structured by extreme montage, which is all over the place & makes Nic Roeg look moderate. It’s beautifully shot and extremely picturesque. This DVD transfer is from a scratchy print but maybe that adds to the charm / ambience. The DVD is put out by a company “Redemption” specializing in “gothic erotic horror.” No extras other than trailers for other “Redemption” films, judging by which they seem to be aiming at a Marilyn Manson market. I can’t imagine either goths or S/M types (or horror fans) finding much of interest in “Valerie”. However the excellent pop band Broadcast did base their “Ha Ha Sound” album around this film, so it clearly does appeal to some contemporary cult music/film fans.
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on 15 October 2014
Arrived promptly and as stated. And boy what a film! I had the Redemption version, but this remaster really does the film justice. A visually beautiful film with an amazing soundtrack. Gorgeous.
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on 26 February 2015
Is possible to understand why the Czechoslovak cultural authorities have no seen the movie in favourable light - as its child pornography fantazie is difficult for Czech general audience to differentiate between the art and pederasty. Why Czechs are unable to produce or create something authentic as Sexmission as Polish cinema did. The camera work is very good and the absence some ordinary message referred as biological maturing of a girl is somehow not enough to explain the effort. Some from of authentic poetic is missing and the gap between the life and horror requisites is obvious.
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on 12 November 2010
I purchased this film on the strength of still images and reviews I found on line and I have to say, it was not quite what I expected, especially from my experience of other Czech films. That said, I cannot say I am disappointed with having now seen the film. Though perhaps a little dated in the visual effects and screen play, it has all the feel of the European children's films the BBC showed usually on a Wednesday evening in the 70s. For me, though, the film is still visually stunning, and I enjoyed the dreamlike twists in the story line. Definitely a more interesting take on the vampire story, the surrealist symbolism strangely enough giving a realism that the current slick Americanised pap has lost. And for those who like to take things further the history of the film and those who made it are of interest as a follow up.
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