Rosa Goddard Fest: ‘Valerie and Her Week of Wonders’

Jaroslava Schallerová in the title role of "Valerie and Her Week of Wonders" (1970).

Jaroslava Schallerová in the title role of “Valerie and Her Week of Wonders” (1970).

It is safe to say you probably will not confuse Wednesday’s offering in the Rosa Goddard International Film Festival with the Kentucky Theatre‘s Summer Classics Series of primarily populist hits that ran Wednesdays for the past three months.

But in many circles, “Valerie and Her Week of Wonders” is a classic. The 1970 import is considered a prime example of the Czech new wave, which was a thing in the 1960s and boasted directors such as Miloš Forman, who won best director Oscars for “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” (1975) and “Amadeus” (1984)– both of which also won best director.

The man behind the camera for “Valerie” was Jaromil Jireš, whose 1963 film, “The Cry” was considered the first film of the Czech new wave.

“Valerie” tells the coming of age story of a 13-year-old girl, played by Jaroslava Schallerova, whose world is both sensually beautiful and horror film scary with vampires and predatory priests lurking in the corners of a fairy tale.

“In content, the film is a weird exercise, striking out boldly in the paths of Bergman, Fellini and Buñuel with characters in something of a clutter who shift into evil incarnate or plain tooth-chomping vampires,” New York Times critic Howard Thompson wrote in 1974. “One creepy sequence in a coffin-crammed lair is right out of ‘Dracula.'”

Thompson was one of many critics who felt Jireš was a bit overindulgent in his creation, but were willing to forgive it for the visual feast he offered set to a haunting score by  Luboš Fišer.

The movie shows at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Kentucky Theatre.

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