Daisies (1966)

 

 Daisies (1966)

Genre: Comedy Drama (Czechoslovakia)

Starring: Ivana Karbanová, Jitka Cerhová

Directed By: Vera Chytilová (We Eat the Fruit of the Trees of Paradise)

Overview: Two young women spend their days waxing philosophic about life, love and the state of the world, all while dining and dating.

I always read the reason why a particular film is in the 1001 book after watching it. There are two reasons for that. First, that book is full of spoilers and I’ve given up on trying to read around the hooks and dramatic endings that are ruined for me. Secondly, I like to try and figure out for myself what a film has that makes it so special, so deserving of staying my own death to watch it. I popped in Daisies with the brave girlfriend in tow, and in the first scene I knew the reason it was book-worthy. A film about two healthy, attractive young women made during the sexual revolution, well that’s going to be a movie that was important in its day for being “feminist”. Add that it’s an artistic mockery of society, especially directed at older males, or dare I say “society’s rulers”, well it’s obvious right from the start that Daisies is going to be a weird and strange 74 minutes. One of the quoted descriptions of the film in that grand tome is that Daisies is “subversive, bracing, energizing, and rather off-putting (if challenging) to most male spectators.” I can tell you, dear reader, that yes, I was insulted - insulted by the statement that it was off-putting and challenging. I rather enjoyed Daisies. In fact it was Feminist Girlfriend of Squish who found it more awkward than I did.

 

This scene features lopping off of many phallic foods.

 

From the very start we are assailed with oddity. We open with shots of two girls lounging in bathing suits juxtaposed with scenes of war, like aerial attacks. Strange sounds accompany the ladies’ inhuman robot-like movements. The girls go on to create a thin plot of dining, dating, philosophizing and constantly gorging themselves on food, particularly phallic food that they also take scissors to. There’s not much more to add about the thin plot itself, but Daisies is quite entertaining, and certainly something to be experienced since the direction and mood of the piece is artistic and different.

 

'Art Film over Feminism' means that although the message is loud and clear, the delivery will be difficult for many viewers. Thin of plot, Avant-Garde, strange and farcical, this piece will confuse everyone in varying degrees, leaving the more hard-core fans of Art-House cinema tipping their hats at the effort that is very reminiscent of Buñuel’s The Discreet Charm of The Bourgeoisie, both in style and story. Sometimes it’s not clear to me how a picture made the 1001 list, but as film history goes, I’d agree that this film, banned by the Czechoslovakian government, is a rather worthy addition to 1001 Movies. 

 

There's something just a little terrifying about this kind of Feminism.
There's something just a little terrifying about this kind of Feminism. 

 

Performance: 7 Cinematography: 8 Script: 7 Plot: 7 Mood: 9

Overall Rating: 76% (Let It Blossom)
Aftertaste:

Movie fans willing to challenge themselves with a short feature film may find themselves pleasantly surprised with Daisies. I will warn you though. Fans of mainstream modern movies who appreciate this will slowly come to realize they’re in fact hidden cinephiles whose minds secretly hunger for what Criterion has to offer.

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