A 1962 graduate from Film Academy (FAMU) in Prague. Her strong visual experimentation, a mix of avant-garde and cinema-vérité, relayed on visual associations bringing the viewer to make active interpretations.
After the events of 1968, while other prominent colleagues of the Czech New Wave Milos Forman, Jan Nemec, and Ivan Passer emigrated, she remained in Czechoslovakia.
As an uncompromising filmmaker, her films were frequently censored for political reasons and she was banned from making them for a period of six years at the beginning of the 1970’s.
She died in 2014
1 – Daisies (Sedmikrásky, 1966)
One masterpiece of the Czech New Wave.
Chytilová’s second feature, in which she definitely sets up with frequent collaborators, cinematographer Jaroslav Kucera, editor Miroslav Hájek and screenwriter Ester Krumbachová (with help from Pavel Juracek), for what would be her signature. This amazing piece has more to do with symbolism than plain logic with an abrupt but enchanting visual style made of allegories and surreal contexts. An engaging hymn to freedom following two girls on the way to the meaning of life. It was these principles of liberty that already started the controversy around her work and led to censorship by the Czechoslovakian government.
A stunning piece of filmmaking with a startling score by Jiri Slitr and Jiri Sust.
2 – Fruit of paradise (Ovoce stromu rajských jíme, 1970)
The same creative team of Chytilová (director), Kucera (photo), Hájek (editing) and Krumbachová (co-writer) was back after Daisies.
It opens with a succession of overprinted images, sometimes near the stroboscopic effect, that creates a rousing display of colors and a psychedelic viewing. This is even more of an experimental film than Daisies. A metaphorical retelling of Adam & Eve with majestic music by Zdenek Liska (Cremator) working as operatic movements.
With a sense for insanity, Chytilová is even going further in experimentation and dismantle narrative than the cinema of Lynch or Jodorowsky which she share similarities with. Hadn’t she been a woman stuck with censorship, she probably would have get much more attention in film books.
3- The very late Afternoon of a Faun (Faunovo velmi pozdní odpoledne, 1983)
The story of an old obsessed clerk who’s an unsuccessful womanizer. Craving for young women, he slowly accustom himself to the idea that he should aim at something more realistic and steady.
At first, this comedy, co -written by Ester Krumbachová (on a story by director Jirí Brdecka who died the previous year), looks a bit more conventional but, if the storyline is more explicit, it is still framed with an unsettling narrative and editing and Chytilová customary sense of music. The camera work is, as always, pretty interesting if a bit tiring with its overuse of movements and zoom. Overall, in this work there is something of an enjoyable existential absurdity.
FAUN is not as strong as her previous efforts but it clearly is a Chytilová film with her signature and it shows that she still had it in her.