Friday, March 2, 2007

Daisies, Czechoslovakia, 1966

With my initial reaction during the first ten minutes or so, I though the film was pretentious with a contrived avant-gardism and I found the two girls to be incredibly annoying. As the film progressed, however, I changed my mind and found that it lends itself to incisive social commentary. It was banned after the soviet invasion because of its sarcasm and aggressive assault onto communist rhetoric. The visual style of the film is also like an assault onto the viewer with its filters and vivid colors intermixed with black and white.

The film acts as a sardonic exposition of women’s roles and invisibility within the communist regime. Childhood, adolescence, infancy and adulthood are all merged into the behaviors of the two girls, perhaps as a symbolism of the singular and subordinate role of women within the society. The issue of visibility within society is repeated throughout the film, made explicit with the girls’ statement, “we exist” followed by pictures of locks on doors. Throughout the film, the two girls have insatiable appetites and are constantly eating (particularly fruit) and cutting things apart with scissors. The women are rebelling against everything, acting childlike, and dumping men with an infantile and narcissistic gratification of sexuality. Food transgresses into sexuality and commodity.

The film constantly raises questions through its symbolic use of objects that serve as motifs. Scissors incise various objects and phallic symbols, while assembled collages and the constant eating of food raises the topics of commodity and consumption. Labor and productivity were rhetorical values within communism and labor was held as one’s highest duty. I think the fruit symbolizes the redemption of labor and raises the question about how women’s labor was self-redeeming. The film culminates with the girls gorging themselves at a banquet, demolishing it and then trying to reassemble the splattered food in heaps onto the table. The banquet with its piquant food serves a symbol of (male) privilege that existed within the communist system and its supposed classless society. The film was confusing to me because I felt it raised the topic of commodity consumption within an incongruent communist context. Here is my question: If male labor within a patriarchal society is redeemed with commodity and access to women, what is the nature between women’s labor and commodity consumption? Is this question even relevant to the communist context? (If supposedly, within the ideals of a classless society, commodity is distributed equally).

is purely irreverent and revels in the sheer joy of destroying the stifling order under communism as the women perform a kind of moral terrorism that trashes idealism, social norms and mores. It also celebrates waste as an anarchic reaction against the order of productivity and masculine privilege. The women are acting infantile because women do not have equal political representation or social responsibilities, so they revert to traditional gender roles of looking pretty and acting childish.


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