Once seen and never forgotten, Valerie and Her Week of Wonders is a dream-like excursion into a symbol-laden gothic fairytale.
The film follows the bizarre adventures of an innocent bourgeois teenage girl experiencing puberty. Valerie is surrounded by a succession of sexual fantasies ruled by a vampire named Tchor. With the help of her magic earrings, she flees from his subtly sinister influence and embarks on an oneiric journey where Lewis Carroll and the Marquis de Sade could perfectly be her travelling partners.
With its non-linear story structure and characters that transform in the blink of an eye, the film twists and turns in the irrational manner of a dream. Events begin to unfold from Valerie’s point of view, when her brother steals the pearl earrings she inherited from her apparently dead mother. The theft significantly coincides with the onset of her first period. From then on, Valerie is plunged into the strange world of adult desire, with its terrible and intriguing secrets. —National Museum of Singapore
Having finished his studies at the Prague Film School, Jaromil Jireš entered filmmaking at the end of the 1950s with several short films, the most engaging of which was Sál ztracených kroku (The Hall of Lost Steps). In 1963 he made his debut in feature-length films with the picture Křik (The Cry), which earned him a place among the ranks of young directors striving for new content and a new film language. In his debut Jireš reacts to modern film currents, above all to the stylistics of the cinéma vérité, whose elements he utilizes, conscious, of course, of the danger that this can hold for the representation of reality and the expression of truth. The story of The Cry suppresses traditional dramatic structure. It consists of the fragmentary memories of the two main protagonists, a husband and wife, on the day their child is to be born. Arranging individual recollections, combining fictional segments with documentary shots, and using a hidden camera, Jireš… read more
All you Freudians out there will have a field day with this one. It's a trip into a magical past where mythical creatures mix and mingle with the mortals and stalk the land in search of prey. The beautiful virginal goddess Valerie has her sexual awakening and is harassed by vampires, lecherous clerics, and her jealous grandmother. She may or may not be in love with her brother. There are a lot of scenes involving women caressing and kissing one another. As some reviewers have noted, it borderlines on the exploitative, but this can be forgiven because the whole thing is so damn beautiful. It's a lot like Paradjanov's Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors the way it mixes these colorful and kinetic visuals infused with folklore and dreamy music. It's also something of a subverted Disney movie. This is the world we all wish we could live in.
Periods: monsters, witchy grandmas! I think the film depicts the shroud of confusion + intrigue that surrounds puberty & sexual awareness in a strange & lovely way, but it often bordered exploitation in my mind. There were times the camera felt uncomfortably keen on Valerie's young, naked flesh. I understood, but didn't favor. Adored the imagery, loved the character(s) of weasel, + the music, of course, is impeccable