Sedmikrásky (1966), or Daisies as it is known in english, is one of those milestone films in every cinephile’s life. Once you see Sedmikrásky it changes you. Since the arrival of tumblr the cult of Sedmikrásky has grown beyond measure until the film entered the popular lexicon of the Criterion Collection, settling once and for all its status as an essential feminist text in world cinema. The discourse around Sedmikrásky since the sixties has also metamorphosed with the film’s growing popularity to the point that finding something original to say about Věra Chytilová’s first masterpiece is a practical impossibility.
Chytilová’s Sedmikrásky celebrates the brute force of the feminine imagination in opposition of a patriarchal society and Soviet politics. Chytilová employs practical effects with the same exuberance as the Maries (Ivana Karbanová and Jitka Cerhová) wreck anarchy on every possible situation. Sedmikrásky explodes of the screen with youthful energy, challenging the status quo and inspiring the viewer. When I watched Sedmikrásky on DVD via my laptop in my freshman year of college I felt I had to go shoot something right away. Sedmikrásky will change the way one looks at and thinks about images; it is the ultimate expression of the Czech New Wave.
Because Sedmikrásky does all of these outrageous and beautiful things I naturally always screened the film for my students. As high schoolers taking a college level film course these students felt that they were being initiated into a hip new world. Sedmikrásky spoke to their youthful ideologies, their sense of play, and even more profoundly to that sense of sublime wonderment that only comes with the first time you pick up a camera and shoot your first film. Sedmikrásky got them and they loved it.
And what a testament to Věra Chytilová and her film that students who weren’t even born in the same century that Sedmikrásky should find the film so relatable and inspirational. So few canonized masterpieces actually possess this uncanny ability. Citizen Kane (1941) and Apocalypse Now (1979) don’t propel imaginations in the 21st century in the same way as Sedmikrásky. If one is going to celebrate women’s contribution to the cinema there is absolutely no better film to do that than Sedmikrásky.