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Valerie and Her Week of Wonders

Jaromil Jireš
Valerie a týden divu
Czechoslovakia 1970 / 77’
Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song

Based on a novel by Vítězslav Nezval (from 1945) and considered the last film of the Czechoslovak New Wave film, Valerie and Her Week of Wonders is also part of other traditions: Czech surrealism, Gothic horror, and a type of Czech fairy tale known as pohádka. Combining sex and horror, Jireš was also following the trends of an era that liked stories of vampires entangled in erotic intrigue. Made during the bleak times of so-called normalization, the escapist, erotic “Arabela” tells us, in a series of dreamlike sequences, about the sexual maturation of a 13-year-old girl. Innocence and the temptation to lose it, lust and sin, pleasure and violence are perversely interwoven in Jireš’s film in a way that didn’t please the communist authorities, who preferred much safer folk tales. Valerie and Her Week of Wonders was not only limited in terms of distribution, but it wasn’t granted permission to be screened at the festival in Sydney. Instead of Jireš, Karel Zeman went there with his film On the CometValerie and Her Week of Wonders was considered too artistic, too strange and too dark. Well, the Czechoslovak director apparently agreed with the politically incorrect opinion expressed in Kundera’s The Joke that, “Optimism is the opium of the people.” 

Małgorzata Sadowska

Jaromil Jireš

Jaromil Jireš (1935–2001) was a director, screenwriter and lecturer at FAMU. He made documentaries, television movies and short films. One of the most important directors of the Czechoslovak New Wave, he made The Joke, based on the book by Milan Kundera and censored for two decades. After the suppression of the Prague Spring, he remained in the country, where he mainly made politically neutral documentaries. In 1970, he made the fantastic fairy tale Valerie and Her Week of Wonders, which ran afoul of the censors. His debut, The Cry, was presented in the competition at Cannes, and Pearls of the Deep received the Grand Prix in Oberhausen. And Give My Love to the Swallows and The Joke were award winners in Locarno and San Sebastián, respectively.


1963 Pierwszy krzyk / Křik / The Cry

1965 Perły na dnie / Perličky na dně / Pearls of the Deep [segment Romanca]

1968 Żart / Žert / The Joke

1969 Waleria i tydzień cudów / Valerie a týden divů / Valeria, and Her Week of Wonders

1970 I pozdrawiam jaskółki / ...a pozdravuji vlaštovky / And Give My Love to the Swallows

1973 Kasiarz / Kasař (short)

1982 Zaćmienie częściowe / Neúplné zatmění / Incomplete Eclipse

1993 Labyrint / Labirynth

1994 Nauczyciel tańca / Učitel tance/ The Dance Teacher

Cast & Crew

director Jaromil Jireš
screenplay Jaromil Jireš, Ester Krumbachová
cinematography Jan Curík
editing Josef Valusiak
music Lubos Fiser, Jan Klusák
cast Jaroslava Schallerová, Helena Anýzová, Petr Kopriva
producer Jirí Becka
production Filmové studio Barrandov
sales Filmoteka Czeska
language Czech
colouration colour