Daisies – An Anarchic Funfair of Chaos

Poster for DAISIES (Vera Chytilová, Czechoslovakia, 1966 ...

Released in: 1966
Directed by: Věra Chytilová
Starring: Ivana Karbanová, Jitka Cerhová, Marie Češková

Unsurprisingly banned by the Czech government for “depicting the wanton”, Daisies is a fantastic film filled with feminist surrealism. This is in the form of two girls sticking up their middle fingers at the communist establishment and the patriarchy. And they have a thrilling time doing so.
Two girls named Marie (Jitka Cerhová and Ivana Karbanová) decide that they’ve had enough. They don’t want to be virginal or be ladies or be known as hard workers. They vow to become bad after they realise that “being good” is an impossible zenith. What follows next is a series of nonsensical pranks, maniacal laughter and explosive food fights. These girls take the word ladylike and crush it beneath their heels.

Věra Chytilová’s film is utterly insane, bordering on overindulgent. In one of their many pranks, the Marias go to a 1920’s style dance hall, sit at the back laughing and dancing and getting steadily drunker. They blow bubbles, and the black and white images shift to filter colour footage, and the dark shades are suddenly cast in greens, reds, blues and purples. They are hauled out by their shoulders. Colours and jolting editing are queen in this film. The waters they laze about become as vibrant and as colourful as an oil slick, and each scene has an unexplainable, dreamlike quality. This isn’t a film hampered by something as unnecessary as a plot. In one scene, one Maria eats from a jar of forest green pickles while the other slices up sausages with a pair of scissors.  While being utterly random, Daisies taps into the same kind of feeling as manically laughing with your best friend over something trivial at 4 am.

However, random this film is but superficial this film is not. It’s gloriously nihilistic, condemning both the patriarchy and the communist government in Czechoslovakia at that time. The chaos may be unbridled, but not without a point. Green fresh apples roll onto their bed while the girls chop up phallic foods. There’s more than a hint of destruction here. This film mocks the standards of society, and questions the communist tenet of work. Each time, with a playful shriek and a raised eyebrow, we’re reminded that these things “don’t really matter” to these girls.

Colourful, charming and chaotic – it’s no surprise that Věra Chytilová’s film has remained an arthouse classic. A mad food fight seems like the perfect antidote to the stresses of modern life – particularly now. Sometimes isn’t it better to just not have a care in the world?

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