"Boldly in the paths of Bergman, Fellini, and Bunuel" - NY TIMES / "Strange, mad, beautiful?" - CHICAGO SUN-TIMES / recently toured U.S. arthouses / A horror story with a nest of vampires. A bewitching fairy tale ... more »about a young girl?s coming of age. VALERIE AND HER WEEK OF WONDERS is a betwitching fairy tale in the tradition of ALICE IN WONDERLAND. Valerie discovers the world is not what it seems after she gets a pair of magical earrings. This haunting portrait of a beautiful girl?s emergence into womanhood is a ravishingly beautiful dream film in which horror and sexuality mix with tenderness and innocence.« less
""And here... is our clue to the method of the adventure, if one is ever to return home. It is this: not to identify one's self with any of the figures or powers experienced." - Joseph Campbell
One of the great films of the 20th century, and unavailable for the last 30 years. A real shame (thank you Facets for its release! And such a beautiful print). I remember seeing "Valerie" for the first time in 1974. I had no idea what was going on, But it was one of the most beautiful films I'd ever seen, so I relaxed and watched the flow of images. I've seen it many times since (thanks to a bootleg copy).
The key to its understanding is that she is asleep from the start of the film to the end, and what we are seeing are her dreams, a unique approach to say the least. A good analysis of the film can be found on pages 229-236, The Czechoslovak New Wave by Peter Hames, U. of California Press, 1985.
The end of "Valerie" is, to me, profoundly touching. During most of the film, she freely interacts with the characters of her dreams, but by the end she has achieved a kind of detached enlightenment; though they call to her, Valerie refuses to interact with them anymore. And so at the end, in that Autumnal landscape, as her dreams dance around her, she climbs into her bed one last time......Sleep tight sweet Valerie, don't let the bedbugs bite....."Fear is only a dream / so dream little one dream."
A note to Mr. Nietzsche (not the philosopher); the term is not "Claymation", that word was invented by the animator Will Vinton to promote his work. The correct term is "Stop-motion". A note to Mr.Cox: "La Femme Nikita" is neither "odd-ball" nor a "classic".
Finally, regarding the remarkably unkind reviews of "Valerie" by the above 2 persons, I'll let uncle Will have the last word: "You blocks, you stones, you worse than senseless things...."
And now the soundtrack is available on CD. will wonders never cease?"
Surreal adult fairy-tale from the czech republic
Salvador Fortuny Miró | Tarragona , Spain | 07/01/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Closely inspired in the nightmarish novel of czech poet and writer Vitezlav Nezval, which in its turn is inspired in Gothic imaginary and fairy tales, this surreal symbolic vampire fable directed with fine irony by Jaromil Jires ( " The joke ", adaptation to the big screen of Kundera's novel ) narrates the bizarre adventures of a innocent bourgeois teenage girl during the week she begins to puberty, surrounded in a succesion of sexual fantasies ruled by a vampire named Tchor from whom obscure influence gets to flee with the help of her magic earrings in an oniric journey in which Lewis Carroll and the Marquis de Sade could perfectly be her travelling partners. The movie is filmed in a subtle narrative way that reminds Fellini's films from the 60's ( for instance: " Giulietta degli spiriti ", " Fellini- Satyricon " ) where the frontier between dreams and " reality " vanishes. The way that the director chooses to conduct the film and its context allows to read the bizarre world and erotic symbolism that surrounds to the protagonist as a subjectivetion of a familiar and represive setting that suddenly becomes strange to her innocent and anxious eyes by the effect of her sexual awakening. Shot after the russian invasion to Prague the film contains also a melancholy political allegory about the unfair situation in which lived most of the czech citizens during the years of the dictatorship.
A Visual Tour de Force
Salvador Fortuny Miró | 01/13/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is one of those rare treasures of international cinema that is simply a must see. The screen explodes with color and surreal imagery that is genuinely a labor of art. This is a film for true film lovers. I think it belongs in the collection of anyone who perceives motion pictures as much more than entertainment. This doesn't mean that the film will not entertain and fascinate, but it transcends the typical narrative films with its focus on visuals to tell its story. This is a captivating film that has not been available for a very long, long time to my knowledge. Again, if you love world films, and especially those that are one-of-a-kind in terms of cinematography, art direction, etc., this is certainly a keeper. Those who prefer the Hollywood formula, which at its best can be superb, and at its worst an abomination, should also seriously consider this impressive gem, as I think it is truly memorable and simply fascinating."
K. DeWeese | Chicago, IL | 01/22/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"For years, I'd read about this film, then I managed to track down a bootleg video copy of it in the mid-90s. Even though that video was in less than prime condition, the brilliance of the film shined through anyway. The first time I watched VALERIE..., I really had no idea what it was about, but the haunting visuals and score--oh, what music!--entranced me. I've watched the film many times since then, including during its recent U.S. arthouse run, and, each time, I feel like I'm unlocking some puzzle. On the surface, it's all so simple, but underneath, it's something else entirely.Then there is Valerie, one of the most charming film heroines I've ever encountered. Imagine watching a young Kate Bush in a fantasy film, and you'll understand what I mean. It's a testiment to the director's sensitivity and the acting ability of the actress who plays Valerie that this film doesn't sucumb to soft-porn cliches or mawkishness. Ravishing. VALERIE AND HER WEEK OF WONDERS has been worth waiting for."
S. Clybor | Chicago IL | 03/22/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Man, get a clue you people! This so-called "anti-catholic" film was released in the 1970s (during a period of intense social repression in Czechoslovakia) not because it was too "weird" for the censors, but because the original writer of the novel, Vitezslav Nezval, was one of the most celebrated communist poets of the 20th century. He was an upper ranking bureaucrat in the Ministry of Information during the Communist seizure of power in 1948, and in the 1950s became the personal secretary of Vaclav Kopecky, the most powerful (and feared) communist in Stalinist Czechoslovakia. Why do you assume that a good piece of artwork from a communist country must necessarily be anti-communist, or that artwork made by communists must necessarily be garbage propaganda? Get a history book. At any rate this has nothing to do with the film itself, which was released under a brutal political regime in the 1970s, and just happens to be excellent."