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DAISIES
DVD region 2. Second Run DVD.

DaisiesThe paper-thin story on which this film is hung deals with a pair of Naughty Girls – two teenagers who are apparently (according to the credits at least) both called Marie – who are dedicated to spoiling themselves, having reached the sound conclusion that as the world is spoiled, why shouldn’t they be?

This begins with them gleefully exploiting middle-aged men, who treat them to expensive meals, only to be dumped on the train home, and progresses to the girls running riot in a plush restaurant before climaxing with them destroying a huge banquet. The sensual pleasures of food here are transformed into a more visceral orgy of anarchic misbehaviour!

Around this already revolutionary plot, director Vera Chytilova weaves a gleefully surreal series of images – some improvised happenings, some bizarre examples of crude but highly effective camera trickery. The resulting film is one of the most shamelessly joyous you will ever see. The two girls, seemingly devoid of individual personalities yet irresistibly bubbly, carry the viewer on a wave of infectious craziness. The best word to describe this film is ‘fun’.

DaisiesNot that everyone saw it that was of course, and Daisies was banned for a year in Czechoslovakia (as it was then), where such explosions of free expression were not to be taken lightly. And yes, there is a political, feminist undercurrent to this freewheeling story of two girls breaking free from the control, the conformity and the dourness of the society that they (and the rest of the country) were living under. But to dwell too much on the political would be to do the film a disservice; while it’s there for those who want to look for it, you can also – if you wish – simply enjoy this movie as a happy, crazy, wild and irreverent film that – like its two heroines – just loves to misbehave and stick two fingers up to the establishment.

Clearly an influence of Jacques Rivette’s Celine and Julie Go Boating, and a spiritual sister to fellow Czech production Valerie and Her Week of Wonders, Daisies is sure to be a hit with fans of either of those movies.

The DVD is the best version of the film I’ve seen, and comes complete with an excellent 53 minute documentary about Chytilova called Journey and a nicely designed booklet, adding to the essential nature of this movie..

DAVID FLINT

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