And what a wonderful and wacky week it truly was!
Screenplay By: Jaromil Jires & Ester Krumbachová
Directed By: Jaromil Jires
I do love me some surrealist fantasy horror, I’ll tells you what. I had an inkling that Valerie A Týden Divu was a movie right up my alley about two minutes into the film’s run time and I never retreated from that feeling. I was similar to the film in that regard, because at no moment does Valerie A Týden Divu retreat from its balls to the wall surrealist fantasy approach. It doesn’t matter if the film is engaging in a moment of comedy, incest, attempted rape, ferret killing, or what have you. At every waking moment of Jaromil Jires’ film there is a conscious effort to push through whatever boundaries film has bordered itself with. I have a special affinity for a film that is willing to take such chances and to never apologize for the chances it is willing to take.
Those looking for a linear plot should just go ahead and skip Valerie A Týden Divu. I say that not out of dismissiveness towards plot or those who seek out plot in their movies. Rather, it is simply the truth to say that Valerie A Týden Divu has no interest in presenting a conventionally linear plot. Instead the film moves from one moment to the next, not bothering to connect each moment in a traditional sense. The sinew is there, the scenes do work off of one another. They do so in a much broader and harder to peg down manner than they would in a standard A to Z type of plot driven film. I can go both ways when it comes to the amount of plot I like to be given in a film. In the case of Valerie A Týden Divu I didn’t miss a standardized plot for one nanosecond.
It would be too easy to label Valerie A Týden Divu as a dream film. It is true that there is a dream like quality to the proceedings in Valerie A Týden Divu. However, just because the film has a dream tenor to it doesn’t mean the film is a dream. I took Valerie A Týden Divu as very much like a dark fairy tale, where reality doesn’t matter as much as the themes being broached. Pan Jires is more concerned with exploring certain elements of European society than he is with giving the time of day to the question of whether the events in the film are real or a dream. The questioning of reality in a film is often fun, but in Valerie A Týden Divu it is a futile time wasting exercise because the film itself has no desire to reveal what is real and what is not.
Thematically what most fascinated me about Valerie A Týden Divu was how the film explored the idea of innocence in a classical European society. Most coming of age tales focus on the actual coming of age, not what society expects from the person who is becoming an adult. Valerie A Týden Divu places the actions of those around Valerie as its focal point. Valerie is but a pawn in the games of the adults that surround her. The film is loaded with imagery that allegorically ties old people with the stealing of innocence. The idea brought to the fore in Valerie A Týden Divu is that it’s not a question of youngsters growing up, but of their elders sucking the youth out of them. Religion, parental figures, the established government, and society in general cannot wait to grab a hold of an innocent youth and bleed said youth dry for the purposes of the elders.
I wasn’t just given a lot to think about in Valerie A Týden Divu. I was also treated to a splendid visual cornucopia. The cinematography deserves plenty of credit for how great Valerie A Týden Divu looks. But, I would be remiss in not mentioning the wonderful awkwardness of the set design and the location shooting. Trees that look like the tentacles from a great beast and giant cathedrals that speak to both religious tradition and classic horror are great visual elements within the film. Valerie herself is filmed wonderfully, as she is constantly being framed in soft lights that highlight her youthful innocence. On every technical filming level Valerie A Týden Divu is a film that wows and excites the senses.
There’s nothing better than a horror film that comes out of nowhere and leaves me all a tizzy. I had no idea what to expect going into Valerie A Týden Divu, but the end result was all that I could have wanted and then some. Fantasy horror doesn’t get much better than Valerie A Týden Divu. There are visual and intellectual treats galore within the confines of Pan Jires’ film. I’ve seen some great films for Splatter Time Fun Fest 2013, but it wasn’t until Valerie A Týden Divu that I was truly floored in the way that only the very best horror films can floor a cinephile.