Cut to ten years later, and the Criterion Collection released the film on Blu-ray after Janus Films visited an all-new 4K restoration. Using the original camera and sound negatives, this absolutely stunning work was produced in collaboration between the Národní filmový archives, Prague, the Czech Film Fund and the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival (where earlier this year a magnificent sound restoration 1970 film “Fruit of Paradise” was also screened).
Chytilová opens her film with bombed-out footage from World War II with scenes of a spinning cog. Militarist drums announce the arrival of its protagonists: Marie (Ivana Karbanová) and Marie (Jitka Cerhová). Deciding that since “everything is wrong in this world”, they might as well be wrong too. What ensues is 76 minutes of pure rebel mayhem. Whether it’s scamming industry men for good food or disrupting high-profile couples at a nightclub, the Maries engage in hedonistic pleasures, all while trying to find signs of their own existence.
In one of the Blu-ray supplements, film programmer Irena Kovarova explains how Chytilová “always wanted to get to the heart of a film’s theme and for ‘Daisies,’ that theme is destruction”. This destruction – at times starting fires, trampling crops, cutting oneself with scissors and decimating an official banquet via the biggest food fight in all of cinema – is contrasted by the rich colors of the girl’s world. Their bright dresses, the verdant greens of their apartment, designed by co-writer Ester Krumbachová, appear more vibrant in this restoration than any version previously available.
Other special features on this disc include an insightful 2004 documentary by Jasmina Blažević which features extensive interviews with Chytilová herself. Throughout the 55-minute documentary, the director reveals that she decided to attend the film and television school of the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague (FAMU) because she did not like the rigidity films made by the establishment. “I wanted absolute freedom. Even if it was a mistake,” she recalls. Blažević mixes footage from Chytilová’s interview with rare 16mm home movies shot by cinematographer Jaroslav Kučera, Chytilová’s then-husband and collaborator. Anyone who loves the open candor of Agnès Varda towards the end of her career will be charmed by Chytilová’s lucid and often biting examination of her own creative and personal life.