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4.4 out of 5 stars
21
4.4 out of 5 stars
Daisies (Sedmikrásky) [1966] [DVD]
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on 2 March 2014
Saw this first when I was 22 (1985) on BBC 2. A time when such was possible on TV. Alas no more
The times sure have changed : we have slided off to a horrible mess nowadays
Thanks to secondrundvd this treasure has been unearthed an what a gem it is:
Without a shadow of a doubt the most unpretentious artistic movie even made, unlike many other better known arty films
Seeing this again after 28 years was mindblowing again.
Being an artist myself I dare say for me this masterpiece has been a profound influence on my work and lifestyle.
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on 4 May 2007
The Czech New Wave bloomed out of nowhere and was brutally suppressed just as suddenly. After Daisies, Chytilova directed a number of films which were duly banned indefinitely before, tragically, kow-towing to her government's ridiculous censors and softening her approach. That she never left her country as many of her contemporaries did (perhaps most famously Milos Foreman) is both inspiring and sad.

Daisies is a mad little film. It's about two young women who take it in turns to go on dates with rich men. The other then invites herself along also and they proceed to wreak cheeky, anarchistic havoc wherever they go. The uninhibited, slap-dash, try-everything invigoration of Chytilova's direction surpasses anything from Godard or Truffaut. I didn't even know there was a Czech New Wave until I found this. It was a wonderful revelation. The film ends with the girls spectacularly trashing a lavish banquet before swinging maniacally from the chandelier. It's allegorical potency need not be specific: I read it as a simple, wonderful freedom. It deserves to become an instigative tag-line:

"Daisies?"

"Daisies." Cue havoc and hilarity.

I don't know anyone else who's seen this. It deserves more attention. I know the French New Wave was hugely significant and seminal (Chytilova was obviously familiar with it) but many other film movements (the Polish New Wave, for example (See Wajda)) seem neglected by the masses. I wonder how this favouriting of the French movement become as total as it did.
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I've become a bit of a Hig Definition blu-ray snob in the last few years, but I gotta admit this is a very good DVD edition. The colors leap off the screen. And the film itself is excellent, a bit similar to Agnes Varda and Godard.
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on 24 December 2008
I saw this film on TV when I was about 15 (about 17 yrs ago!) and have been trying to track it down ever since. I didn't know anything about art house films or foreign films back then, but this film totally captivated me. It was so mad, but in a good way because it represented a desire we might all have at times- to have fun and forget rules for a while. It was so refreshing to see women totally free and silly, and literally messing up the order and pomp of the male business world. If you are feeling serious and want to loosen up, this is the film to see. Just wish they would bring out a region 2 version of the film so I could see it again!
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on 3 December 2011
Director Vera Chytilova's anarchic feminist film from the mid 1960s (right before the Czech new wave movement was broken by the Soviet Invasion that ended the Prague Spring) is hard to describe in terms of plot. Basically, it's about the various antics and gags of two young women. The victims of their practical jokes tend to be established society in general (which exists even in a socialist system as was Czechoslovakia at the time), and older men in particular. Aggressively experimental, the movie uses several types of film stocks, even in a single scene, as well as in your face editing cuts. There are several anti-phallic gags (with the girls cutting while giggling sausages, bananas, etc.) as well as an apocalyptic food fight (the girls seem to have a particular obsession with food). It's fun, imaginative, subversive, but even at a running time of less than an hour and a half, tiresome at times.
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on 15 April 2010
I disagree with the one star reviewer. That assessment of Chytilova's film-making skills is frankly absurd, so I'm not wasting my time countering those comments.

What is very telling about such a vitriolic attack is the view taken of the two other films that are cited; namely 'Valerie; and her week of wonders' and 'Sweet Movie'. I will comment on those films since so much spite is vented against the supposed weakness of the feminist content in Daisies.

The first is a highly sensual and erotic story of a pubescent girl, some might say titillating, and all drenched in pretty images while the other a visceral naked romp in which the male director finds it necessary, in order to present a 'sophisticated representation of roles' as the review puts it, to strip all the women naked and have them participate in erotic and sexual acts...........

in 'Daisies' however, with a woman directing, the girls are not subject to the male psyche nor a spurious 'sophisticated representation of roles' which requires them to appear naked for our pleasure under the guise of some intellectual pretext. Their self-contained world is not pretty pretty and barely sensual let alone sexual and the characters, through the director, repudiate the predatory male world except on occasions to mercilessly exploit it by having lots of fun.

This certainly makes for a film less appealing to the voyeur but does make for a stunning piece of experimental cinema.

Vera Chytilova just about pulls off one of the most difficult projects in expertly using experimental film making techniques to create a coherent feature length film that is both visually stimulating and entertaining. If that's pretentious, I'm glad.
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on 2 December 2012
I first caught a snippet of this overlooked gem on BBC2 around 20 years ago and it's been conspicuous by its absence from the schedules ever since. A typically loose plot for the period is no impediment to the childlike hedonism that runs through the film as a viewer with an open mind can simply enjoy the anarchic progress of the lead characters without expecting a conventional narrative.
I suppose in retrospect it can be seen as a frivolous product of the Prague Spring, but it does capture a delightfully naive strain of Swinging 60s optimism that was brutally crushed in 1968, one it would have been impossible to convey on screen thereafter. If you like 'Une Femme est Une Femme' or even 'Help!', you may like this...
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on 5 February 2012
Daisies by Chytilová

V'ra Chytilová, like French Agnès Varda, is one of the still universally rare female Czech film directors, especially in the 1960's. By this, I do not mean to imply that female directors are not behaving like directors, but that their choice of topics and view of the world is bound to have, while not necessarly a gender, non- or anti-masculine touch, a certain feminine dimension.

Chytilová is best known for her Czech New Wave film Daisies (Sedmikrásky, 1966), which became also the film that established her international reputation. The film follows the antics of two characters, Marie I and Marie II, who engage in a series of destructive adventures in a surrealist atmosphere. Such techniques, in Chytilova's own words, "restrict [the spectator's] feeling of involvement and lead him to an under-standing of the underlying idea or philosophy."

Though famous for its experimentation in form and content, Daisies is also marked by witty imagery and visual puns, not unlike the work of the Dada artists of the 1920s who pushed the limits of artistic expression with cleverness and anarchic humor. Film historians point out Chytilová's debt to Luis Buñuel and other Surrealists. The inventive and visually striking cinematography is by Chytilová's second husband, Jaroslav Kucera.

Those familiar with Chytilova's background in philosophy discuss the film as nihilistic or existential, while cultural critics see it as a statement against materialism and consumerism in modern society. Others focus on the antics of the two Maries in search of a feminist reading. Daisies is clearly open to multiple interpretations that do not necessarily contradict each other, but exist as parallel readings of a complex film. ''

''Though completed in 1966, Daisies was not released for a year. Bureaucrats and politicians were disliked the film, most likely because of its complexities and avant-garde style. Officially, one deputy from the Czech National Assembly complained that the imagery of the film revealed a wastage of food (scenes at the banquet setting). As soon as it was released, Daisies won the Grand Prix at the film festival in Bergamo. This would become the pattern of Chytilová's career--while gaining recognition for her work on an international level, she obtained no further state funds in her own country.

PS Let me take this occasion to remind my readers that my grading of films is often a mixture between artistic valuation and historical relevance. Also, I am often short of space - reviews are meant to be kept to a certain average length, with amazon quite tolerant. In some cases like Daisies, I need to reduce my aspects to keep to my length - but then, there is the internet right at your fingertips, and if you start searching for more on the subject, you make me happy, as there is plenty more, easily accessible, and mostly worthwhile.

58 - 5 February 2014
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on 14 January 2011
For anyone interested in Czech film, this is a must. Its great to see difficult films to find being printed by Second Run DVD. Bit of a Marmite film but I definitely loved it.
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on 29 January 2015
Real score: 5 stars
Adjusted for Amazon reviewers getting it wrong: 5 stars (not necessary! Only one idiotic review and it hasn't really affected the rating)

Daisies is punk and Dada and surrealism and everything that is good about the creative impulse, art and the imagination. Anyone claiming that this film is pretentious, amateurish or poorly acted needs to have their head examined or their personality re-adjusted. It's completely rife with playfulness, fun and energy for their own sake, for the purpose of making an enjoyable and original viewing experience. It's simultaneously art and anti-art. Similarly, anyone who thought the main characters were annoying is clearly not comfortable with the idea of adults acting like children and following their impulses, laughing without self-consciousness or fear of seeming or sounding ridiculous or irritating. A cynic would say that children are just as annoying when they act in this way, and that's fair enough, but in the context of the anarchy of this film the characters fit perfectly; they are funny, mad and slightly sinister with their creepy laughter and insistence that nothing matters.

Vera Chytilová uses as many experimental techniques as she has at her disposable, all crammed into a very short hour and fifteen minutes; cut up (both in terms of jumping between cuts creating non sequiturs and individual frames being cut up, as in the wonderful scissor fight scene), strange colour saturation techniques, different coloured lenses... not only this but the mise en scène is unbelievable, and gives the impression of something between Alice in Wonderland and a Jackson Pollock painting (and, at times, a Piet Mondrian painting). The costumes are meticulously designed to work with the various backdrops, scenes of absolute chaos contain a certain overall harmony and beauty (the scene in which the burn the strips of paper for example) while the feast scene is simply unbelievable, and shows that simply making a mess of such opulence can make a strong political or philosophical point without ever being explicit.

In fact there are many such instances of political subtext in the film that could be blissfully ignored if one wished, but are there to dip into if you fancy; the girls obsession with food, their paradoxical anti-materialism, their exploitation of men and their deflation of romantic notions such as love, which they hold up to be instruments of patriarchal oppression, their hypocritical chastisement by society for doing what they want, the attitude of their male suitors to their frankness... it's a very feminist film, where the end leaves you questioning whether they are sincere or not. Is this a final dig at the society which has forced them to clear up for their actions, or is it a genuine display of remorse, if only in response to the danger of punishment? Are the girls the heroes or the villains, symbols of decadent society or the liberators from such bourgeois pomposity?

It's the sort of film I would like to make.
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