Wednesday, November 29, 2006
Movie Review: VALERIE A TYDEN DIVU
aka VALERIE AND HER WEEK OF WONDERS
Directed by Jaromil Jires
Jaroslava Schallerová was born April 25, 1956. VALERIE AND HER WEEK OF WONDERS, in which Jaroslava played the title role, was filmed in 1970. So Jaroslava was 14 or 15 years of age at the time of filming. This would explain the uneasy feeling I got while watching Valerie, that at any moment my front door would burst open and Chris Hansen from Dateline NBC would bum rush me with a camera crew.
VALERIE AND HER WEEK OF WONDERS has no story, which makes it a hard one to review. In the opening credits it states that the film was funded by The State Fund of the Czech Republic for the Support & Development of Czech Cinematography. (That's not a cleaver Borat related reference either, that long ass thing is really the name of the fund.) This speaks volumes as to how this picture should be viewed. Full of scenes of both beautiful landscapes and psychedelic close ups of faces & body parts, VALERIE - if viewed as an exercise in cinematography - is an interesting work. If however your looking for an easily accessible plot, keep looking.
Do a little research on VALERIE AND HER WEEK OF WONDERS and you'll see most reviews compare it to Alice in Wonderland. Or at least make strong comparisons to fairy tales in general. I can see how many elements compare closely to those of classic fables and fairy tales. Valerie - much like Alice or Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz - is a young woman who encounters several unusual characters, each of which advise & coax her further toward her destiny for better or for worse. But does any of it make any sense? Not really.
I also frequently came across the idea that Valerie, was a story of one woman's journey into womanhood as she experiences puberty and her first period. I didn't get a very strong Are You There God? It's Me, Valerie vibe while watching, but again I can see where you could read that from the film. But that's the thing about this film, you can read damn near anything you want into it.
If I had to narrow the film down to an easy to describe genre, I'd have to say it's a vampire film. Valerie's blood is being sought by The Weasel, who looks like Max Schreck's stand in for Nosferatu, because it will sustain him eternal life. The local village chickens are being found dead & drained of blood. Valerie's grandmother trades her soul or allegiance or something, it was never really explained, to the Weasel for a more youthful look and the chance to remain forever young. Sounds like a vampire film to me.
Maybe it is unfair to tack a label to a film that contains not just elements of a traditional vampire tale but also includes incestuous relationships, panicked villagers, perverted priests & lesbian rendezvous'. On second thought, maybe not.
DVD available here!
Review by The Undead Film Critic!