Daisies: Giggling Generals; One and Two

Carmen Gray at The Current:

The title of Daisies (1966) evokes innocence and simplicity—an expectation that the prankster accomplices at its heart, Marie I and II, gleefully subvert. Giggling and batting their eyes, they mimic pliable femininity, then turn the tables on the men who would exploit them, in a full-scale assault against decorum. When the Czech director Věra Chytilová made Daisies, her second feature, Czechoslovakia had endured nearly two decades of repressive Communist rule, and she was one of the leading voices in a new generation of filmmakers who expressed resistance through gestures of allegorical insubordination that were semantically slippery enough to possibly get by the censors. Similarly, the Maries operate like guerrilla insurgents across Prague, disguising their true intentions and refusing to dutifully submit their bodies for either labor or male gratification. Their antics are set in the context of modern warfare from the first frames, which jolt us with footage of a World War II dive-bomber’s annihilation, as drums beat a militant march.

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