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Three Czech New Wave Classics

Friday, June 29, 2012
9:00 p.m. Valerie and Her Week of Wonders
Jaromil Jires (Czechoslovakia, 1969)

(Valerie a tyden divu). Valerie and Her Week of Wonders has achieved the status of a cult classic. The film adapts the tricks of cinema to the art of the fairy tale to inscribe a young girl's passage from innocence to womanhood with eerie beauty. In a constantly surprising mixture of gentle eroticism and gothic nightmare, shot through with cobwebs and lace, thirteen-year-old Valerie (Jaroslava Schallerová) innocently turns the denizens of a turn-of-the-century village into the fairies and demons of childhood—a childhood that is at once distinctly female and ageless. The dark fruits of repression are both mocked and oddly savored in the film's bizarre imagery: Grandmother-vampire cavorts with a lascivious priest; a procession of nuns crosses a field of wheat into unimagined realms of sensuality; a father is a weasel, a lover is a brother; a mother's sparkling earrings hold the key to all that is magical in sexuality.

—Judy Bloch

• Written by Jires, Ester Krumbachová, based on writings by Vítezslav Nezval. Photographed by Jan Curík. With Jaroslava Schallerová, Helena Anyzová, Petr Kopriva, Jirí Prymek. (75 mins, In Czech with English subtitles, Color, 35mm, From Czech Film Archives, permission Criterion Collection/Janus Films)