Daisies (1966)

What do you do when you realize the world is “spoiled”? In Daisies, the 1966 surrealist comedy/drama directed by Vera Chytilová, Marie I and Marie II decide to directly reflect said world.

Marie I (Jitka Cerhová) and Marie II (Ivana Karbanová) are two young women (maybe sisters???) who reflect the spoiled state of the world primarily by pranking older men. They frequently will go out on dates, have their meal paid for and then hop off the train as it leaves with the man on board.

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Daisies is rife with symbolism. This includes apples, which may reflect the forbidden fruit of eden. Also sausages and eggs which are cut with scissors, potentially representing a break from conventional sexual norms. As well as an overall theme of purposeful gluttony as satire of communist rule leading to greedy dictatorship.

One of the most interesting aspects of the film is the wide variety of cinematic techniques used while filming and editing. Some scenes are in black and white while others are in color. Further, many scenes adopt interesting color tints to add another layer of experimentation. In one particularly interesting sequence, Marie I and II humorously cut off their limbs with scissors. The scene then devolves into a fast paced patchwork mural over the rhythmic sound of a typewriter. (By the way, yes that is as crazy as it sounds).

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If I had to mark one complaint, it would be one sequence in particular which I felt was a bit heavy handed with its use of symbolism. When the two Marie’s sit on their bed slicing sausages, eggs, pickles, and other food with scissors, the phallic and yonic (yes I had to google that word) overtones felt over the top in a film that clearly skates that boundary throughout. The commentary being made is interesting, but the method of doing so felt obvious and unoriginal to me personally.

For anyone not familiar with surrealist European films, I being no expert myself, a movie like Daisies may be a culture shock. There is very little linear story and a plethora experimental cinematography. With that being said, I feel it always valuable for individuals to keep an open mind and experience new things. Therefor, I would recommend Daisies. I greatly enjoyed watching and it is widely heralded as an important piece of cinema history.

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