When a movie is released on DVD by Redemption you expect 1970s style erotic horror, but the 1970 Czech movie Valerie and Her Week of Wonders is a very different kind of film. It’s essentially a fairy tale. A young girl receives a gift – a pair of magic earrings. She needs these because her wicked grandmother is intending to steal her youth from her. She also needs to protect her brother, and she has to deal with an evil land-owner who appears to have discovered a way to cheat both old age and death. It’s told very much in the style of a fairy tale, and the most obvious film to compare it to would be Neil Jordan’s movie of the Angela Carter short story The Company of Wolves. Like so many fairy tales it deals with transformations and rites of passage – life to death, youth to maturity, etc. And like so many fairy tales it deals with sex, although the sexual aspects are certainly dealt with in a less disguised form than in the average fairy tale. The erotic elements are done in a very restrained manner, though. It’s a gorgeous-looking film, with beautifully done period settings and some wonderful rather gothic images. It’s a lyrical, entrancing, dream-like movie, about as far removed from the typical horror movie as can be imagined. It’s one of the finest attempts I’ve ever seen to create a cinematic fairy tale. A magnificent movie that seems to have been completely overlooked by mainstream film critics, presumably because they’ve simply dismissed it a being a horror movie (which it isn’t) and therefore beneath contempt. The DVD looks great, and one can only hope that Valerie and Her Week of Wonders doesn’t once again get unfairly ignored because it’s been released by a company so firmly associated with horror.
10 out of 10