Color, 1966, 75 mins. 53 secs.
Directed by Vera Chytilová
Starring Ivana Karbanová, Jitka Cerhová
Second Run (Blu-ray & DVD) (UK R0 HD/PAL), Criterion (DVD) (US R1 NTSC), Facets (DVD) (US R1 NTSC), Bildstörung (Blu-ray & DVD) (Germany RB/R2 HD/PAL), CCV (DVD) (Czech Republic R0 PAL)

A Daisiesriotous, colorful fireball of Daisiescinematic provocation, Daisies is now one of the signature films of the Czech New Wave and the most famous film by the wonderfully fearless Vera Chytilová. This is hardly her only major film (check out the glorious Fruit of Paradise for starters), but this is still the one to beat and an outrageous cinematic collage so far ahead of its time most viewers are still left astonished by the end.

More of a freewheeling experience than a linear act of storytelling, Daisies revolves around two young women, both named Marie (Karbanová and Cerhová), who decide the world is so corrupt and spoiled that the rules don't apply to them anymore. Indulgence in every possible excess becomes the norm as they freely navigate through reality and fantasy sequences, including a wild food fight and enough symbolic castration imagery to give Freud a seizure. As they put it one memorable exchanges, “If everything’s going bad… we’re going bad as well! Does it matter?”

This was Chytilová’s fourth full-length feature following her days at the national Czech film school, FAMU, and such films as 1962's A Bag of Fleas and 1963's Something Different, plus a truly wild segment of the 1965 Czech anthology Pearls of the Deep. It’s here that she cut loose so freely that the film was temporarily banned in her home country even Daisiesas it won awards and made her reputation abroad. It’s basically a huge prank on communist ideology, consumerism and even the viewers themselves. The film is also part of a significant '60s (and early '70s, sort of) trend of mixing and matching color and black-and-white film stock, something Daisiesthat also defined everything from A Man and a Woman and if... to The Blood Drinkers. The juxtaposition of these formats actually suits the collage of the film, which keeps erupting into raucous set pieces like the big Charleston sequence and the swanky dinner that goes very, very wrong. The film also went on to have a significant impact on European horror cinema with pairs of rule-breaking young women wreaking havoc on society at large in the films of Jean Rollin and, most obviously, the magnificent Don't Deliver Us from Evil.

This one became something of a revival house favorite around the turn of the millennium but was treated less respectably on video including a terrible, washed-out DVD release from Facets. Second Run did a much better job with their 2009 release, a beautiful remastered version with a documentary, "Journey" (55m1s) about the director as well complete with copious interview footage with Vera herself. The film also appeared in the recommended Pearls of the Czech New Wave set from Criterion's Eclipse banner, albeit bare bones.

DaisiesIt was inevitable that Second Run would give this one a Blu-ray upgrade (something that would great for their other Chytilová films like Fruit of DaisiesParadise, Something Different, A Bagful of Fleas, and Traps), and the 2018 edition is indeed a welcome treat featuring a new restoration courtesy of the Czech National Film Archive. The warm, vibrant color scheme has been kept intact along with the film grain, including a few specks here and there indicating this hasn't been digitally filtered much (if at all). The LPCM 2.0 mono track also sounds sharp and clear, with optional, newly-translated English subtitles provided. A new audio commentary with Diabolique and Daughters of Darkness' Samm Deighan and Kat Ellinger is an ideal choice as they're given free rein to offer a deep dive they note from the beginning will be more personal than usual. They really go into Chytilová's vital status as a filmmaker, similarities to Agnes Varda, "weaponized femininity," the challenges of being a creative and a mother, and common traits with the director's later work as well as Czech cinema as a whole. Ported over from an earlier German Blu-ray and DVD release (which wasn't English friendly otherwise) is a fine and very different commentary by film historians Daniel Bird and Peter Hames, which takes a more straightforward historical and theoretical approach that takes the form of Bird more or less interviewing Hames about the casting, Chytilová's life and many artistic collaborations, her run-ins with the government, the climate of the late '60s, and more. A newly-created trailer is also included, while the insert booklet features the liner notes by Hames initially written for the label's DVD release.

Updated review on October 23, 2018.