woensdag 3 augustus 2016

Today's Review: Madeliefjes (Sedmikrasky)

Another one up, this one an oldie:

Madeliefjes - recensie

Ideologically, Sedmikrasky still makes sense. More so than ever, in fact. Designed as a feminist act of rebellion against patriarchal political systems, there's a lot to say for it when such systems are on the rise again. Now that so-called strong willed men are elected to office (or otherwise just grabbing such positions for themselves) around the globe, it's no surprise women's rights, hard fought and well earned, are slowly but surely diminished, even in democratic territories. So why not re-release a movie that fought for female independence fifty years back? Maybe because it is dated as heck in all other regards, for one thing.

Sedmikrasky deals with two young women tired of being told what to do by old men and turning the tables on them by questioning everything taken for granted and stopping to adhering to social rules. That sounds pretty hardcore, but the eventual acts of rebellion ultimately prove rather tame. They start by luring cuckolds into dates and humiliating them in public by acting like spoiled brats and messing with their food (a lot!). Soon, things get a bit more serious when they add burglary to their nefarious behavior. Still, that's about it. And all of it is executed in a subversively childish manner, which makes it hard to take seriously fifty years down the road, as we've seen much worse in cinema since. Though we can sympathize with rebels attacking an oppressive system, these two women are mostly just absurdly annoying, making for a good 73 minutes that prove hard to sit through.

What's worse, at least for general audiences, avant-gardist director Very Chytilova applies some mindbogglingly experimental cutting and photography, which makes for a wholly inaccessible movie. Everything is overly stylized, as if filming a dream. What's a modern audience to make of all this weirdness? Movie buffs and art lovers at least will appreciate the constant switching between colour palettes, the abrupt editing and the odd camera angles, not to mention the historical context which makes this film a classic in its own right, a prime example of its tempestuous zeitgeist. But without bearing all that in mind, little remains to provoke thoughts or aspire the latest generation of feminists, aside from good intentions.

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