Monthly Archives: November 2009

Dear Vera Chytilová

Dear  Vera Chytilová,

I just saw Daisies (Sedmikrásky) and wow, that movie is totally bonkers!

“You know what?” says one bikini-clad girl to the other. “If everything in the world is going bad, then we’re going bad, too!”

The story of two sisters, both named Marie, who eat from a tree of shiny apples and set off on a determined spree of messy mischief, Daisies resists any easy moral message. “Going bad” seems to consist of lounging in bed in slinky nylon pyjamas, cutting everything you can find to pieces (even, in one homage to the DaDaist art of collage, your own head and arms) and conning sad old dudes into buying you dinner before you shove them onto the evening train and giggle off on your high heels. It looks like a lot of fun, but I had to ask myself in a few places, does this mean anything at all, or did you get a little carried away with the joys of cut and paste? That final scene, whose operatically wasteful food fight earned the opprobrium of the communist Czech government, doesn’t leave us with any clearer answer. Are the two Maries simply the victims of their own bratty hubris, who would have been better off channeling their disaffection into hard work? Or is something more tragic playing out, the inability of these young, crafty women to carve out any meaningful place for themselves in society?

Well, all those hilarious shots of slicing pickles with scissors and setting sausages on fire make me lean toward the latter interpretation, no matter what you might have said to get the state-sponsored film bureau to let you release the film. But no matter what ambiguous ethical questions may be at work in Daisies, I loved the no-holds-barred portrayal of fierce, female hunger. These chicks eat everything in sight, even when the only thing they can find to put in their mouths are cut-out photos of steaks from a glossy magazine.

Daisies (Sedmikrásky) 1966: