Title: Valerie and Her Week of Wonders

Also known as:
Valerie a týden divu (Original title)

Year: 1970

Genre: Surrealism / Fantasy / Horror

Language: Czech

Runtime: 73 min

Director: Jaromil Jires

Writer: Vítezslav Nezval (novel), Jaromil Jires (screenplay)

IMDb: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0066516/

Valerie's first menstruation gives birth to strange dreams that take her through what it means to grow up, and presents things that should be kept away from young girls.

Our thoughts:
Since even the novel, which this film is based upon, was inspired by "Alice In Wonderland" it's impossible not to bring it up in a review, even though I personally think "Valerie and Her Week of Wonders" is just as strong of a fairy-tale as "Alice In Wonderland" is. It's a more adult approach to a similar story, but there's no hole and certainly no rabbit. There's a weasel, though, and lots of vampires, sex and religion. So yes, very adult themes, if I'm being honest.

The story starts as Valerie gets her first period - shown through blood dripping down on a white flower as she walks over it. Having her first period is what makes her enter her own fantasy world, in her dreams. She experiences things in this dream that no 13-year-old girl should have to experience. Without going too much into detail about the film, since not even the film goes into detail, it's a sort of coming-of-age story where she has to face adult things such as religion, sex, death, love. But also, very much like a child, she's scared of the unknown and meets people that she can't relate to. Even though there are a lot of oddball characters, it all boils down to vampires who want to suck the youth out of her.

What makes this movie unique isn't the story at all, it's the visuals and how it all ties together into her dream. The more you study what happens, the more clear the representation of the dream becomes. Having only seen the movie one time so far, I know I will have fun with this film at least 2-3 more times. By "fun" I mean I will still be challenged to think about what it all means. If I ever manage to figure it all out. But that's the point, you can and should watch this without understand it. It's a child's dream/nightmare of an adult world, and few films have portrayed growing up as good as this one.

Jaroslava Schallerová is simply perfect as Valerie, and I'm glad that the Second Run DVD release came with an interview with her. This young little girl (well, she was young back then!) carries this movie on her shoulders. Forget the strange characters such as the Weasel, Valerie is what makes this movie work. The movie is way too complex for a young girl like her to understand, but still she manages to fit in so nicely. The character is filled with curiosity and fear, and the mix of the two is what makes the character work so well in this adult world her mind created.

I simply have to tell you to watch this movie. You might not praise it through the roof, or even think it's that great, but you can't deny its wonderful imagery. It balances between a childlike adventure and poetic erotica without ever crossing the line to become one or the other. And I find that to be very impressive. If it's fair to call this a different version of "Alice In Wonderland" (which I don't really feel is right), then this is up there with Švankmajer's "Alice". But please don't misunderstand what I am saying, I just want to put it into a perspective for you. This is still very different from the classic "Alice In Wonderland" story, and will appeal more to the fans of 70's erotic artsy films and surrealist cinema than anything. It's a fairy-tale that ventures into taboos, into the dark, and most importantly into the mind of a young girl on her way of becoming a woman.

Positive things:
- The visuals are more important than following the story.
- I had a lot of fun trying to interpret things in her dream.
- Creepy at times, fun at other times.
- Some nice erotic moments.
Negative things:
- I'm struggling to come up with something. It's far, far from a perfect movie, but it's very hard to find something negative after the first watch.

Gore: 0.5/5
Nudity: 1.5/5
Story: 3.5/5
Effects: 2.5/5
Comedy: 1/5

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