Sunday, March 30, 2008
Wow, how’s this for a pleasure. Kelley and I got to attend an ultra rare big screen showing today of Jaromil Jires’ amazing 1970 masterpiece Valerie and Her Week Of Wonders at Nashville’s Belcout Theater. The screening of the 16-millimeter print wraps up an exciting run for us that started with Diva a few weeks ago and continued with Diary Of The Dead before concluding with Valerie this afternoon. I’m not much on road trips anymore but these jaunts were all well worth it.
I had seen Jires miraculously strange film on DVD before but I must say being in the presence of one of the only remaining theatrical prints of it in the world was something special.
Following an introduction of it by the Belcourt employee who had selected it where he detailed just difficult it is to get a theatrical print of this. This particular one came from a private Nashville collector and is among the best of the handful of 16-millimeter prints, (only one 35 millimeter print is said to still be in circulation) and the presenter’s excitement at introducing the film was infectious. After promising a gloriously faded and scratched but complete subtitled print, the about half to capacity audience was treated to something really special.
The very odd and moving Valerie And Her Week Of Wonders is a film pretty much impossible to describe so I won’t attempt to here. So, if you haven’t experienced the film, please put it in your Netflix queue immediately…and go ahead and order the soundtrack from Dusty Groove as I promise you will want a copy after watching the film.
I was mostly struck this time by just how incredibly beautiful the film is to watch. Even in this faded and deteriorated state, Jires film is a majestic creation that is among the most visually entrancing works of art I have ever seen.
I was also really taken this time with actress Helena Anyzova, who plays three separate roles with the kind of beautiful erotic intensity that Joelle Couer would lend to some later Jean Rollin works. Amazingly enough this was one of just a couple of screen appearance from the striking Anyzova which makes her work in it all the more enigmatic and iconic.
I would love to see Criterion tackle this very important Czech film sometime in the future but for now it remains a faded and scratched treasure just asking for more people to discover it. Thanks to the folks at Belcourt for screening this…it was bliss.