Saturday, 8 October 2011

VALERIE A TYDEN DIVU/Valerie and Her Week of Wonders (1970)

All that glitters is not gold. VALERIE AND HER WEEK OF WONDERS is very beautiful to look at - quite exquisite. Based on a famous Czech novel the film is loved by many (seemingly more in the West than in its homeland) and was well received by the critics. Author Angela Carter supposedly loved it so much that it inspired her short story collection THE BLOODY CHAMBER and the film she subsequently wrote, THE COMPANY OF WOLVES which has similar thematic similarities and which in my opinion is vastly superior. So why did I not enjoy the film? It's got a vampire from the Max Schreck school, its got great photography, goods sets, a nice score....but director Jaromil Jires seems incapable of telling a coherent story. Or is he simply unwilling to - being content to hide behind the hoary old "surrealist" label. I've nothing against surreal dream sequences and I quite enjoy films (particularly horror films) that, often because of low budgets or sheer incompetence, become surreal but this feature length (mercifully only 73 mins) dream by a girl experiencing her first menstrual cycle gets pretty tedious if you try to follow the story. What makes it even more frustrating is that there is a good story in there somewhere and if it had been told coherently it could have been a classic. Actress Jaroslava Schallerrova who plays Valerie is drop dead beautiful but as she was only thirteen when she made the film I won't say more. Rating **

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