Vera Chytilová followed-up her feminist psychedelic masterpiece Daisies with a even more idiosyncratic film The Fruit of Paradise. It’s a surreal fever dream retelling of the story of Adam and Eve with liberal doses of absurdist comedy. The film along with Daisies pretty much blacklisted her for the majority of the ’70s in the film industry in Czechoslovakia. Chytilová unlike her contemporaries like Miloš Forman or Ivan Passer stayed in her native land and fought with the powers to be till she could direct again.
The film opens with an extraordinary scene which depicts the creation of earth and Adam and Eve wandering though the Garden of Eden (which can be seen at the bottom of the review) that is sensory overload to the extreme. It incorporates many different shots superimposed over top of each to a dizzying psychedelic effect. It’s so stunning it somewhat overshadows the rest of the film and leaves such a indelible mark on the brain. However the rest of the film is equally stunning it’s own way.
The story of Adam and Eve is transported to a somewhat modern setting which may or not be the late 60s and they are in a health retreat for much of the film. Eve becomes obsessed about a man dressed in red who I interpreted as the devil and the rest of the film she becomes increasingly infatuated with the man. The film is open to many interpretations and it’s probably safe to say considering the political turmoil in Czechoslovakia it’s partly about the lost of innocence through totalitarian rule. Fruit of Paradise marked a end point for Chytilová, it’s the end of her phase of cinematic experimentation because her later films like Traps are considerably more formal in style but they certainly don’t lack her provocative brand of filmmaking.
The Fruit of Paradise is a stunning piece of surrealist art that until till now has been hard to find and little seen but due to Second Run’s re-releases of Chytilová’s work it will find the receptive audience it deserves. The disc includes the 40 minute student film Ceiling she made in the early ’60s which depicts a few days in the life of a Czech model which is more conventional in style and storytelling but none the less impressive. Look out for more releases of Chytilová’s films in the future from Second Run.
Genre: Surrealism, Fantasy, Comedy Distributor: Second Run BD Release Date: 13th April 2015 (UK) Rating:15 Director:Vera Chytilová Cast: Jitka Novákova, Karel Novak, Jan Schmid Buy: The Fruit of Paradise DVD