Reference Notes – Věra Chytilová’s Daisies (1966)

Warning: Spoilers Ahead

“‘We are really, truthfully happy.’ ‘But it doesn’t matter.’”

  • Hey, but who wouldn’t take advantage of their glucose guardian? I mean, we’re only human, your Honor; can you really blame them for wanting to taste the devious licks of mukbang supremacy???
  • Chytilová said this on behalf of what she and her crew were attempting to do with the making of this movie: “We would like to unveil the futility of life in the erroneous circle of pseudo-relations and pseudo-values, which necessarily leads to the emptiness of vital forms, in the pose either of corruption, or of happiness.”
  • Daisies is not just a successful experimental satire on emphasizing gender roles through reversal behavior, but one based on pointless fulfillment as a reflection of our desire to succeed in whatever social ground rules may be the current status quo. Believe it or not, this is actually a pretty depressing movie about surreal explosive behaviors arriving in head as a result of accepting the neverending “ethical” obligations that can never leave one’s humanity. To be specific though, the film decides to gear itself towards sexist issues regarding sovereignty against females in the spirit of this tragic philosophy, and how it corruptly limits their ability to publicly exemplify diverse character. By doing so, it turns the tables for the audience from the expected refrained female character by introducing to us two versions of a woman named Marie who uses their feminine roles to take advantage of the perpetrators, perpetrators that have unintentionally helped them indulge into these physically obnoxious yet equitably warranted behaviors. The movie comes off as if it is trying to be simultaneously both frightening with its commentary on social limitation yet uplifting with its destruction of the typical female conduct, which has resulted in its curiously mixed reception and interpretations over the past half-century.
  • The two Maries obsession with food is of course applicable to material priority in feminine culture. It’s displayed so harshly in the film as almost like a detrimental drug addiction that’s being literally fed into their personalities to keep them afloat and controlled by bourgeoisie males. The movie, however, decides to scour this in irony by acting as if the two are constantly happy for this sort of lifestyle, and that they are really the ones in control of the men when really, the culture they’ve lived in has led them in no other direction but to indulge in this material reliance on powerful, working class men, and nothing else but the rush and reiteration of their restricted outlet. They are not necessarily happy, but being forced to act or tricked to think they can only be pleased by expanding their overplayed roles in a self-aware sort of fashion. Nonetheless, it feels sometimes as if it’s still all there just so that they can play devious parts in some puppet show where they (the women) are naturally ridiculed for their roles that are shown as being strictly vain and worthlessly (even childishly) simple, as opposed to what many considered the bigger importance of male roles; this is an area of normality that may be the cause of society having critiqued feminine roles in the first place, as the two Maries are very much representative of the symbolically stripped-down “empty” characters that come from wealthy men encouraging and even forcing women to stay, ritualize and indulge as the imprisoned, immovable and replaceable “doll-like” stereotypes for their own sexual and egotistical male gratifications.
  • While Daisies could then easily be summed up as a visually aggressive evocation of this obsessive repetition and resultant lunacy that one is actually in a state of freedom rather than the evidently existential state, in terms of its political commentary on the Czech government, I will have to do more research on my second viewing of that since I’m partially oblivious to their cultural background.
  • The burning of the masculine male photo puts a reversal on the real life idea of how women are dunked under when they lose their sexualized femininity. The concept of there being so many unattractive older men popularly conditioned to partner with beautiful younger women topically falls in line with Chytilová’s statement about how the feminine pressures of her time are enough to begin pushing women harder into thinking the same standards for men, which feels more relevant today than ever.
  • Daisies’ editing / camerawork is so animatedly in-sync with its sundry and twitchy soundtrack that it actually makes me feel bad that so many movies I’ve seen choose to not just be as freely ambitious and expressive as this. Also, the psychedelic train track shot is far and beyond good enough to be in 2001 (1968)’s stargate sequence. The scissor fight scene is also kooky enough to be in House (1977). Funniest part is, Daisies came out before both of these movies. Even the still image montaging feels so reminiscent of Jan Švankmajer’s work too; wow this movie did a LOT for cinema.

Verdict: B+

“Daisies” is now available to stream on HBO Max and The Criterion Channel.

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