AND HER WEEK OF WONDERS
DVD region 2. Second Run DVD.
languished, relatively unnoticed on the film society circuit for
years, Valerie and Her Week of Wonders first
grabbed the wider attention of cult film fans with the Redemption
VHS release in 1993, enabling this forgotten work of visionary
genius rapidly found a new, obsessive fan base. This DVD cranks
up the quality levels by several notches, making it the essential
purchase of the year. Whichever film you were thinking about buying
next, forget it – this is the one you need.
Valerie… is a stunning beautiful 1970 Czech
production, telling the story of Valerie, a hauntingly pretty
thirteen-year old girl in the midst of transformation from childhood
to womanhood (the story opens as she has her first period). She
has adventures - which may or may not be fantasies - involving
her ghostly grandmother, the vampiric Constable and Eagle, who
may or may not be her father and brother respectively, and a lecherous
visiting missionary who tries to seduce her and, when unsuccessful,
denounces her as a witch.
All this is filmed in a haze of lyrical and poetic images, creating
a magical, fairytale atmosphere, awash with colour and joyous
sensuality. The film can easily be compared to both The
Company of Wolves and Lemora – A Child’s
tale of the Supernatural, both of which share the theme
of a young girl coming of age in a supernatural setting. And while
both those films are masterpieces, Valerie probably
outdoes both in terms of atmosphere, truly stunning imagery and
ideas. The feeling of magic that the film invokes is infectious
– despite the horror movie elements, the whole story is
awash with the joy of living and the beauty of nature.
many ways, this is an impossible film to review – there
are no words that can capture its breathtaking beauty adequately.
Everything about it is as perfect as any film can be – the
cast, Jaromil Jires’ sensitive direction, and the wonderful
score (now on CD), which gently evokes the sense of wonder that
Valerie is feeling at the changes taking place around and within
Second Run’s DVD gives the film the treatment it deserves
– a shiny new transfer from the negative, a video interview
with Jaroslava Schallerova who played Valerie and a nice booklet
are among the contents.
But this film needs nothing extra to sell it – it remains
an essential masterpiece that you may well think is better than
anything you’ve ever seen.
IT NOW (UK)
IT NOW (USA)