It is a rare thing for me to become entirely invested in a film from the opening scene all the way to its closing moments, as die hard as a cinephile as I am, I will fully admit that I am guilty of occasional waining and checking of the phone during a film. It is truly a feat for a film to have my vested interest for its entirety, particularly in regards to anything with a heavily experimental or avant-garde lean, considering that these films take a considerable amount of time to unfold and become clear in their meaning. Yet, Vera Chytilova provides just that in her experimental feature film Daisies a film so decidedly its own that I found myself completely glued to its offerings, even when repetition was the means for said offering. Chytilova's film is clearly a work of realized art, each frame cleverly matching or juxtaposing its predecessor, ultimately, lacing together a mesmerizing, psychedelic consideration of what it meant to be a woman tapping into her own individualized feminine identity as it would be in the mid-sixties Czech Republic. I have seen many a failed experimental cinematic endeavors which banked heavily on their abilities to use colorization and tinting to capture the viewers on at least a visceral level, however, it is rather clear that, like the silent filmmakers of days gone by, of which the director takes a clear influence, each tint job and color variation serves as a consideration of the moment or a larger commentary on the collective situation. With that being said many of the rainbow filled scenes would undoubtedly play well with a drug toking individual. Even if the film has a decidedly trippy element about its existence, that does little to dissuade the astute viewer form its multifaceted consideration of the ideals of feminist and the politics surrounding the acts and notion of destruction, especially those occurring within and towards the bourgeois state of mind. Oppression is not a thing to be overlooked within Chytilova's film, however, as a earnest filmmaker, in line with the mentality of Godard, Daisies is careful to condemn its characters for living within a world of disillusion and lies, showing them in perilous situations and reminding viewers that it was the only possible and plausible outcome.
Daisies both directly and loosely considers the movement through consumption oriented spaces by two young, what viewers can assume to be, Czech girls. These girls go about quoting various cultural, philosophical and political figures, all the while undermining the authoritative figures in their path. Food, as a few of the films I have reviewed here of late for a project, plays an integral role in the narrative. In the case of Daises, it is particularly pro-feminist in that the two characters use it as a means to contend with patriarchal oppression, both in the rejection of social norms, as well as their own decisions to possess their own bodies, via consuming what they please, when they please. However, much has been made of the director's choice to place the main characters in a dire situation during one of the closing scenes of the film, in fact, some have suggested that this moment is a clear discrediting of the feminist movement on the part of Chytilova, which I find to be completely absurd and somewhat ungrounded. Firstly, considering that the film was released in 1966, any image of a woman, or in this case women, rejecting the domestic sphere outright would have proven somewhat revolutionary in its being new and fresh. The Czech New Wave, while running somewhat parallel to the second wave of feminism, nonetheless, appears to pre-date it a few years in its commentary on the serious issue of spheres. Secondly, the choice of the director to place these women in peril is not an artistic metaphor as much as it was a real case for women in the time, many, like the main protagonists, found themselves floundering, all be it not in water per se, hoping to be rescued by those with skills and power, in the case of the era men, and while this certainly occurs, even if indirectly, the narrative seems to suggest an overall initiative for women to seek self-reliance and forward momentum, even if that means a continued exploitation of powerful, rich men.
To find out more information about the film Daisies, or its director, click either of the images below: