The film Valerie and Her Weeks of Wonders is a screen adaptation of Vitezslav Nezval's short novel of the same name. Published in 1945, the novel is as surreal and uninformative as the film itself. This is a good thing! By Nezval's own admission, the depth of the tale is not in story itself, but in the dark evocations caused by the mise en scene. It is a tale of folklore, mystery and allegory that unfolds as much in the mind as on the page.
Director Jaromil Jires was unerringly faithful to Nezval's myopic approach, lingering on expressions, oblique gestures, the subtle nuances of actor performance and the rich, complex set design of Ester Krumbachova. Lubos Fiser's original score is so perfectly woven throughout the action it becomes the atmosphere within which Jires' actors exist. While a 35mm transfer of the film still eludes the DVD market, one can bask in the splendor of Fiser's (and composer Jan Klusak's electronic contributions) masterwork via the newly re-issued soundtrack on Finders Keepers/ B-Music.
Considered by many to be the last film of the Czech New Wave (tank treads are uniquely effective at suspending cultural momentum) Valerie marked a reprieve for Jires from a long series of political exposes, which may account for just how remarkably visual the film became. Coming from black and white film to color, relative realism to a work of surreal fantasy, Jires must have exploded creatively from the options then at his fingertips. One can only imagine what unfettered creations could have come had not so many of his fellow filmmakers fled to more welcoming creative climates, Jires making the decision to remain and endeavor under the oppressive thumb of Soviet tunnel-vision.
Thanks to the advent of videotape, and now DVDs, lesser versions of Valerie (namely a faded and slightly damaged 16mm print) have traded in ever widening circles, exposing thousands to one of the most visually arresting and important works of fantasy film ever created. The film's impact on musicians alone is remarkable, and one hopes that the inspiration and assimilation seen by aficionados of the film in the music realm will find equal purchase in the new wave of budding art film directors.
Two shows at 6:00pm and 9:00pm
Official Website: http://www.valerieproject.org/
Added by la-underground on October 12, 2007