Daisies (1966)

Arguably the Czech New Wave’s most fiercely anarchic entry, this experimental cult film’s wild portrayal of two young women’s decision to give the middle finger to authoritarianism and the patriarchy remains as effective as ever. 

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Review #2,571

Dir. Vera Chytilova
1966 | Czechoslovakia | Comedy/Experimental | 76 min | 1.37:1 | Czech
PG13 (passed clean) for brief nudity

Cast: Jitka Cerhova, Ivana Karbanova
Plot: Two teenage girls, both named Marie, decide that since the world is spoiled they will be spoiled as well; accordingly they embark on a series of destructive pranks, in which they consume and destroy the world around them.
Source: Czech Film Archive

Accessibility Index
Subject Matter: Moderate – Anti-Establishment; Anti-Patriarchy; Transgression and Freedom; Feminism
Narrative Style: Straightforward/Experimental
Pace: Slightly Slow
Audience Type: Niche Arthouse

Viewed: Criterion Eclipse DVD
Spoilers: No

Arguably the Czech New Wave’s most fiercely anarchic entry, Daisies comes with a strong reputation and is certainly Vera Chytilova’s best-known work. 

One would not have expected it to be a follow-up to the director’s excellent first feature, Something Different (1963), which is more traditional though cheeky in its own way as it traverses between fiction and documentary. Daisies is undoubtedly a much wilder animal, situated firmly in the realms of surrealism and absurdity. 

Two girls, both named Marie, decide that the world is spoiled and want to be spoiled themselves.  They express their unfiltered desires whenever they please and wherever they can, giving the middle finger to social and cultural norms. 

In one of the film’s most iconic scenes, they stuff themselves with food, playfully throw it at each other and then dance on the buffet table.  Apparently, the film was banned for ‘food wastage’. 

“It’s us they don’t understand.”

But we all know that Chytilova’s work is a stab at the heart of authoritarianism and the patriarchy—no scene is more apparent than the girls’ salacious act of using a pair of scissors to cut phallic foods such as bananas and sausages into little pieces. 

Daisies’ film language is just as bonkers, including the liberal use of tinted footage, bizarre montages and bookending the film with sounds of artillery and bombings, no doubt providing an ironic counterpoint to the question of morality—why should we care so much about the mildly transgressive whims of two human beings when the world is sadistically tearing each other apart, physically and ideologically. 

I have to admit that I enjoyed Daisies much more on my second viewing—it is one of the most interesting and effective non-conformist experimental cult films out there.

Grade: A-



One Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s