Friday, April 15, 2011
Valerie and Her Week of Wonders (1970)
A profoundly strange and disorienting movie, Valerie and Her Week of Wonders (a Czech movie filmed in 1969 - with government funding! - and released the following year) is a fever dream of sex, death, religion and the confusion that so often accompanies the onset of adolescence. Is it a straight-up horror movie? Not exactly. But if you're in the right frame of mind, the images from this film will certainly find their way into your nightmares.
Everything that happens in this movie is like something out of a bizarre fairy tale - we're talking classic Brothers Grimm here, not the cleaned up Disney versions. While the plot doesn't always "make sense" per se, I think the dreamy flow and jarring imagery accurately convey the horrors of being a 13-year-old girl. You're not quite ready to grow up, but your body has other ideas. Adult sexuality is foreign and intimidating at best, disgusting and threatening at worst. Every man you meet could be a potential predator. And in the middle of all this is Valerie, refusing to be a victim.
There are vampires, demons and a bit of witchcraft (or at least a burning at the stake), ladies who put fish down their dresses, magical earrings and menarche. Fun for the whole family it's not, but if you're down for a visual feast that will stay with you for longer than the 73-minute runtime, I encourage you to seek out a copy of Valerie and Her Week of Wonders.