Wearing earrings with bells on would be really annoying, but this is a lovely film.


VALERIE AND HER WEEK OF WONDERS. The pan-and-scanned Redemption Video DVD is pretty bad, with a ratty, fizzy-facky print, but the film still rewards viewing. In fact, the crackle, splotch and jolt have kind of bonded with my thoughts about the film itself, so that if I were ever to see a restored and pristine VALERIE I might not recognise the old girl.

Some book or other on the Czech New Wave compared the storytelling to Rivette’s fantastical films: you can tell there are RULES to the magic in these films, but you DON’ T KNOW WHAT THEY ARE. Which makes things a bit scary.

Watery embrace.

Caged priest.

Some of this stuff reminds me of schizoid patricidal Victorian painter Richard Dadd’s work. The long lens flattens perspective to create a similar effect to Dadd’s strangely compressed planes of hot faerie action.

The Fairy Feller's Master-Stroke 1855-64 by Richard Dadd 1817-1886

Tree Huggers


Come and play with us Danny

Walk on By

Ran this stuff (all from ONE SCENE) past ace cinematographer Scott Ward, and we agreed that “People In Trees is THE WAY FORWARD.”

Bedways is bestways now


Shadowplay’s chief curmudgeon-in-residence Comrade K was less taken with the movie, as this quick email reaction suggests:

‘boy, i watched abt 20 mins of that VALERIE, and the only way i made it that far was by pretending it was SCTV’s parody of an eastern bloc film’

I suggested he was too sour to see its magic (he had just suggested the same of my failure to be enchanted by the title UNION DEPOT) and he continued:

‘man, if that’s magic for you keep me the hell away from magic! i gave it 10 shots of pigeons splashing in fountains before i bailed. likewise the nasty guy looked kind of cool the first time he removed his mask, but it lost some of its kick the 500th. the “sexual awakening” stuff was laid on w/ a hammer (oy that drop of menstrual blood on a dewy flower! and jesus, you want to know a description that, in general, will indicate, to me, a movie i won’t care for? “a magical fantasy of a young girl’s sexual awakening.” or sub out a young GUY’s or ANYONE’s). man, i just thot it was awful. let’s just say “not my sort of thing”‘

Such is the beauty and variety of human perception! We all see things differently, which allows us to have wars and stuff.

6 Responses to “Wearing earrings with bells on would be really annoying, but this is a lovely film.”

  1. magic is only really any good if you don’t know the rules of it. if you explain it in any more detail than the stuff in the wicker man is explained then you have FAILED AT DOING MAGIC

  2. You can have an explanation that’s poetic rather than literal: I love Cocteau’s “explanation” of why Death uses mirrors as doorways in and out of the Land of the Dead in ORPHEE: “Mirrors are the doorways through which Deathe enters the world. If you stare into a mirror long enough, you will see Death at work.”

  3. yeah, i was a bit hasty and shortsighted there – i think my real beef was that you often don’t get a proper sense of otherness; dream logic is a great way of explaining magic. it sounds like cocteau was talking about the aging process

  4. Yes. It needs to be a non-explanation explanation. Cocteau’s films are full of great dream imagery and poetic connections. Rivette explains like a couple of rules per film but the rules are so arbitrary they add to the mystery. But having them allows him to wrap the story up semo-neatly, which is useful with stories as baffling as some of his.

  5. Stephen H Says:

    There was an absolutely beautiful 35mm print of this screened at the Edinburgh Filmhouse yesterday. I think the film is wonderfully atmospheric, unsettling and bewitching. It hasn’t dated to my eyes, but strangely the rest of the audience chuckled their way through it. I must be out of touch with what passes for effective gothic cinema these days.

  6. I’m surprised a Filmhouse audience wouldn’t be more sensitive. There’s nothing ridiculous about the film.

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