"Valerie and her Week of Wonders" is a Wondrous Experience


Valerie and her Week of Wonders is a coming of age film like no other.  This Czechoslovakian film from 1970 is a little know cult classic that was recently restored and released by The Criterion Collection.  Its a strange and surreal fairy tale that will keep your eyes glues to the screen for the entire 73 minutes.  The film is more of a painting or an experience rather than a traditional narrative story.  Rich with metaphor and symbolism its an art house film with a capital A.

Valerie is a young girl of about 13 or so whose transition into womanhood is a scary and dangerous proposition.  Her parents are dead and she lives with her grandmother, who may or may not be a vampire or a witch.  Valerie is friends with a local boy, Eaglet, whose father may or may not be a vampire or even the devil.  He is also known as the polecat, a weasel of a man who is always up to no good.  Throw in a sleazy lecherous priest and Valerie must defend her mind and body for what awaits her in adulthood.  Her bedroom, however, is a gleaming white sanctuary for which she is free and safe from the outside world.  While Valerie's grandmother fears of growing old she makes a deal with the polecat for everlasting youth, Valerie yearns for love, safety, and security.  She hopes this will come from Eaglet and a magic pair of pearl earrings.

Her journeys are like hallucinations charged with either sex or violence.  She sees a group's maidens bathing in the river, as well as men whipping themselves.  When the priest seemingly returns from the dead, Valerie is taken and burned at the stake

The imagery and cinematography of the film are simply amazing. The image of a bloodstained daisy makes for the perfect cover art for the Criterion release.  The film takes on many fairy tales but would most resemble "Alice in Wonderland".  Its a truly unique vision for this girls very strange week of wonders.