In 1970, director Jaromil Jireš transformed author Vítězslav Nezval’s gothic novel Valérie a týden divů (1932) into a poetic horror story, in what would prove to be one of the last “free” Czechoslovak New Wave features. Production and costume designer Ester Krumbachová served as co-writer along with Jireš. The main character in this dreamlike fantasy tale is a 13-year-old girl (aged 17 in the novel), whose tranquil life with her strict grandmother is transformed into a wondrous, but potentially dangerous adventure. A desire to uncover the secret of her own origins leads Valerie into a fantasy world inhabited by mysterious creatures and characters reflecting the real-world anxieties and wishes of the girl. Young Orlík tries to provide her with some brotherly protection. The outward kindness of Valerie’s pious grandmother is repeatedly challenged (a Skunk doubling as a constable who threatens Valerie was once her grandmother’s lover; the ostensibly old woman still yearns to be seduced by Gracián the missionary). Valerie’s grandmother, in her rejuvenated form, adds to the dangers facing the girl. However, the heroine eventually succeeds in overcoming numerous ominous situations to step forward into the future – now no longer as a child, but as a young woman… Jireš and Krumbachová’s fancy spectacle reflects the heavy erotic connotations stemming from Nezval’s original take on gothic novels (both the Weasel and the perverse priest are after Valerie’s virginity, and her relationship with brother Orlík is also not entirely free of sexual undertones). The screenwriter’s opulent fantasy, together with Jan Čuřík’s brilliant and colourful camerawork, create a strikingly beautiful, but unsettling world. Jaroslava Schallerová, 13 at the time, stars as Valerie. Featured in the cast is Robert Nezval, the illegitimate son of author Vítězslav Nezval, in the small role of a drummer. The son committed suicide shortly after the film was completed.
Thirteen-year old Valery lives in an old house with her austere grandmother. Through her eyes, half-child and half-adult, she observes the world around her, meeting various weird figures who keep changing their identities and whose fates mysteriously intertwine. Then Valery meets a young man named Orlík who steals her earrings while she sleeps, but then returns them. She learns that a constable nicknamed Skunk [Tchoř] was her grandmother's lover long ago, also finding out that the grandmother wants to win the love of the missionary Gracián and hence she is out to retrieve her lost youth. Valery's vigilant guide in this unbelievable world submitted to rules unknown to logic is no one but Orlík. He saves the girl from Skunk, who tries to strangle her. Pearls she receives from Orlík help Valery to disentangle herself from Gracián's powers and also defend her from the rejuvenated grandmother. One of the magical pearls interferes in yet another dangerous situation, when Gracián accuses Valery of witchcraft and the girl is to be burned at stake. Moreover, Valery witnesses the wedding of young Hedvika, who was the victim of a vampire, and at the same time envisions Skunk's death. In the morning, Valery is having breakfast with the grandmother as usual and learns from her that she is the daughter of a gamekeeper's apprentice, whose love affair with her mother made the granny chase her mother away from home. A coach arrives, bringing over the girl's parents as well as her brother Orlík. They all set off to the Eastern Wood. There, Valery can again see the participants of her unbelievable dream which might have been just a dream...
služka z vykřičeného domu
Eliška Štíbrová, Ota Koval
Hana Kozlová, Králíček
Vítězslav Nezval (Valerie a týden divů – román)
Viktor Fixl, Josef Calta, Václav Šebek
Valerie a týden divů
Valery’s Week of Wonders
16 October 1970
Festival: 13. mezinárodní filmový festival Chicago
Chicago / United States of America
Festival: 13. Grand Premio – mezinárodní festival uměleckých filmů a filmů o umění Bergamo
Bergamo / Italy