Valerie and Her Week of Wonders (1970) (aka, Valerie a týden divu)
Thirteen year-old Valerie is sleeping in a gazebo, when a spry, torch-bearing thief bounds in and steals her earrings right off her ears. The earrings come back to her–in very odd ways–throughout the film, and disappear just as mysteriously. There’s a vampire priest who hides behind a paper fan and a weasel mask, and who may or may not be her father or grandfather; a Puck-ish young man named Eagle, who may or may not be her brother. Her stern, gray grandmother, who may not be make a deal exchanging Valerie’s birthright to the vampire/priest/possible father/grandfather for eternal youth. What else…
OH! Valerie gets her first period, which she discovers because a small drop of blood falls on to a buttercup as she walks. Also, a missionary comes to town, and he gives a special sermon to all the town’s virgins.
Vampires! Oh, crap. I mentioned them. There are happy bands of lesbians, wearing white dresses and frolicking out in nature. And a gypsy acting troupe! They’re fun. And a flower girl, who seems to flirt with Valerie.
And this all may or may not be a dream or a series of dreams.
“Valerie and Her Week of Wonders” is described a Czech surrealism. Whoa, yeah. Most definitely surreal. It’s actually kind of a fairy tale, but the old school, non-Disney ones.
There were a few things I really loved about Valerie. First, she just sort of wanders contentedly through life, whether it’s practicing her harpsichord or facing down a vampire/weasel/priest. She doesn’t get all shrieky. Also, she has an amazing amount of presence for a 13 year-old girl, whose first film role is a starring one.
I admit: I nearly turned this off early into it. It just wasn’t connecting with me. You know how it is. Sometimes you want 1960′s experimental Czech surrealism. Sometimes you just want to order pizza and watch Men in Black.
I’m glad I stuck with it. It’s hard to watch a movie that lacks a linear plot. We like that: A, B, C, D, etc. “Valerie” doesn’t work like that, and it was hard for me to stop trying to find the plot, and just be drawn into the film. Once I was, it was rewarding.
Also, “Valerie and Her Week of Wonders” is only 73 minutes long. That helps.
I’m glad I watched it, and I’ll probably watch it again in the future, just to see if I missed anything.
It’s sort of like eating Thai food for the first time. There’s just no way to describe it adequately to someone who’s never had Thai food.
I would recommend it if you feel a little daring.
And most DEFINITELY if your doctor gives you Dilaudid.
Gotta run. “Men in Black” is starting, and my pizza’s at the door.