Inspired by fairy-tales such as Alice in Wonderland and Little Red-Riding Hood, "Valerie and her Week of Wonders" is a surreal tale in which love, fear, sex and religion merge into one fantastic world.
Towards the end of 1942 a young prisoner Maruska (Magda Vásáryová) awaits in her cell in prison in Breslau (after war Polish Wroclaw) her execution. After death sentence it was ninety nine ... See full summary »
A grim portrayal of the shift from Paganism to Christianity in medieval Czechoslovakia - as a young virgin promised to God is kidnapped and raped by a marauder who her religious father seeks to kill in return.
Thirty female students in a second-year grammar school are resisting the efforts of old professor Machacek to teach them Pythagoras' theorem. But then, via a collective classroom vision, ... See full summary »
TV mechanic Slávek (Josef Abrhám) takes his wife Ivana (Eva Límanová) to the maternity hospital. From the moment they say goodbye, the couple can't stop thinking about each other. Their ... See full summary »
A thief awakens Valerie, just 13, taking earrings left to her by her mother. By morning, the earrings have been returned, Valerie's first period has begun, and a troupe and a missionary have arrived in her 19th century town. The thief is Orick; he reports to a cloaked constable who may also be the missionary. Attention to sexuality is everywhere: Valerie's grandmother's puritanical nature, the missionary's sermon to the town's virgins, the parish priest's attempt to seduce Valerie, and lusty adults at play. Valerie's nascent sexuality puts her in great danger. Can she navigate the passage from innocence to experience, a route teaming with vampires, a murderer, and an obscure family tree?Written by
This movie was filmed mostly during the summer. See more »
Several times throughout the movie people are picking up musical instruments and music is heard as if they are playing them but the fingerings don't match up with the notes, or sometimes no hand manipulation is done at all, just the appearance of playing the instrument. In one case, Eaglet is playing the flute and plays it horizontally when it is the vertical kind. See more »
[of The Polecat]
He's one hundred years overdue for death
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A masterpiece of erotic confusion, Valerie comes as a delightful introduction to prolific Czechoslovakian director Jaromil Jires, whose career spans five decades. Jires blends reality and illusion to the extent that a synopsis does a disservice to the film, yet the literary story would work quite well on its own. Jaroslava Schallerovà, only 14 years old at the time, plays Valerie, a pretty young girl who lives with her grandmother in a beautiful yet antiseptic house. Her boyfriend (or perhaps brother), who goes by the name Eagle, sets off a chain of unusual events when he steals her earrings. A troupe of actors, or perhaps a wedding procession, comes into town, bringing with it a man who may be a monstrous vampire but may also be Valerie's father. Soon after Valerie's grandmother either disappears or dies, her Cousin Else shows up at the house and bears more than a striking resemblance to the grandmother (indeed, I believe these characters are played by the same actress). Things progress much along these lines, with eventually Valerie experiencing a major reawakening. Jires films in an impressively sensual manner, creating a mood through imagery rather than plot point. At times, however, the details get rather confusing, which can unfortunately shift attention from the beautiful composition and editing to deducing narrative developments. Many sequences appear to occur within the story but then end with the suggestion that they have just been imagined, introducing a need to constantly second-guess one's perceptions. Schallerovà plays the role with stunning (perhaps genuine) innocence. Without overindulged serenity, Valerie mystifies and befuddles through an agenda of symbol-soaked imagery and fantastic storytelling.
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