Cut to ten years later and the Criterion Collection has released the film on Blu-ray after Janus Films toured in a brand new 4K restoration. Using the original camera and sound negatives, this absolutely stunning work was carried out in collaboration between the Národní filmový archive, Prague, the Czech Film Fund and the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival (where earlier this year a lovely restoration of her 1970 film ” Fruit of Paradise » was also shown).
Chytilová opens her film with bombed-out footage from World War II with scenes of a cog turning. Militaristic drums announce the arrival of her protagonists: Marie (Ivana Karbanová) and Marie (Jitka Cerhová). Deciding that since “everything goes bad in this world,” they might as well go bad too. What follows is 76 minutes of pure riotous mayhem. From bilking men of industry for fine dining to disturbing distinguished couples at a nightclub, the Maries commit to hedonistic pleasures while trying to find signs of their own existence.
In one of the Blu-ray extras, film programmer Irena Kovarova discusses how Chytilová “always wanted to get to the heart of what a film’s theme is, and for ‘Daisies’ that theme is destruction. This destruction – sometimes through setting fires, trampling crops, cutting each other up with scissors and decimating an official banquet via the greatest food fight in all of cinema—contrasts the rich colors of the girls’ world.Their bright dresses, the green vegetables in their apartment—designed by co-screenwriter Ester Krumbachová, more to come more vivid in this restoration than any previously available version.
Other special features on this disc include an insightful 2004 documentary by Jasmina Blažević that features extensive interviews with Chytilová herself. During the 55-minute doc, the director reveals that she decided to attend the Film and Television School at the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague (FAMU) because she didn’t like the rigidity of films made by the establishment. “I wanted absolute freedom. Even if it was a mistake,” she recalls. Blažević mixes the interview footage of Chytilová with rare 16mm home movies shot by Chytilová’s then-husband and collaborator, cinematographer Jaroslav Kučera. Anyone who loves Agnès Varda’s late-career open-endedness, will find themselves charmed by Chytilová’s clear-eyed, and often searing, examination of her own creative and personal life.