A Film For July: Daisies

Daisies is a 1966 Czechoslovakian comedy-drama film written and directed by Věra Chytilová. Two young girls, both called Marie, sit in their bikinis like puppets and decide that as the whole world is spoiled and bad they will act as if they are bad too.

In their babydoll dresses, flower crowns and thick black eyeliner, Marie l (Jitka Cerhová) and Marie ll (Ivana Karbanová) look overtly ‘girly’ but as their youthful pranks play havoc on a world gone stale these two giggly girls are taking up space, being irreverent and wild and making a noise – breaking all the conventions of traditional femininity. Their anarchic spirit and rebellious appetite for food and adventure is captured in a surreal, kaleidoscopic swirl that is a crazy satire of bourgeois decadence.

Very little in the way of plot actually happens. The scenes fall chaotically into each other, They dance around an apple tree, Marie 1 goes on a date with an older man and Marie ll turns up at the restaurant and mocks his intentions while eating all the food and drinking all the wine. They take a bath in milk, they go to a Prague nightclub and upstage the 1920’s floor show, annoying everyone with their drunken antics. There’s a lot of flirting with older men and putting them on trains and/or leaving them behind. . . All the while philosophizing on life and death or musing on youth, happiness and existence while the screen switches between black and white and colour or filtered, tinted footage.

And finally they come to a room with a table laid for a banquet but with no diners. I’m not sure that they ever eat as if they have a secret, but now they’re in gastronomic heaven. As their eating and drinking gets more unruly they start a food fight, greedily licking the cream and icing that’s smeared all over their faces, smashing up the plates and swinging on the chandelier they are suddenly dropped into open water. . .

So they decide not to be bad anymore and go back to the room and tidy it up with a lot of whispering about being good and hardworking. When they’ve finished they decide they’re happy – but are they or are they pretending? The chandelier falls and the film cuts to war footage and announces that:

This film is dedicated to those who get upset only over a stomped-upon bed of lettuce.’

Part of the ’60’s Czech New Wave movement, Daisies is a psychedelic celebration of liberation; absurd and eccentric I loved these two crazy girls impishly dismantling the patriarchy!

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