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Love and Anarchy: Films by Vera Chytilová and Juraj Jakubisko 

Love and Anarchy reprises key works by two of the most exciting and original filmmakers from the Czech “New Wave” of the 1960s. No strangers to controversy, Vera Chytilová and Juraj Jakubisko had their share of run-ins with state officials in the sixties and seventies. Slovakian director Jakubisko, in particular, has been described as “one of the most frequently banned filmmakers ever to achieve international renown.” The film negative of his 1968 feature The Deserter and the Nomads was intentionally destroyed; his next film, Birds, Orphans, and Fools, made in 1969, was held back from release until 1990. In 1970 Jakubisko began directing a feature film entitled See You in Hell, My Friends but was prevented from finishing the film for twenty years. Chytilová, too, suffered at the hands of the authorities. Her second feature, Daisies, provoked outrage in the Czech parliament, which issued a declaration asking for its ban. Chytilová’s films, like Jakubisko’s, often expose the absurdity of “good behavior” in a world gone mad, and both directors possess a love for mixing farce and fantasy with social critique. This approach, combined with their bravura visual styles, places their work in the company of directors such as Federico Fellini, Alexandro Jodorowsky, Yuri Ilyenko, and Dusan Makavejev.

Special thanks to Brent Kliewer for his help in organizing this series.


June 8 (Thursday) 7 pm
June 10 (Saturday) 7 pm

Daisies (Sedmikrásky)

Directed by Vera Chytilová
Czechoslovakia 1966, 35mm, color, 76 min
With Jitka Cerhová, Ivana Karbonová, Julius Albert
Czech with English subtitles

Two bored girls, both named Marie, decide to take revenge on consumer-oriented society with a series of pranks and the destruction of material goods. With its bold use of color and visual effects, its anarachic story line and slapstick finale, Daisies emerged as one of the most adventurous films of the Czech New Wave and enjoyed enormous success both at home and abroad after it was finally released by authorities. Despite the film’s comic posture, its aims were indeed political. According to Chytilová, “one might sum up this film as a necrologue about a negative way of life.”

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June 8 (Thursday) 8:30 pm
June 11 (Sunday) 7 pm

The Millennial Bee (Tisicrocna vcela)

Directed by Juraj Jakubisko
Czechoslovakia 1983, 35mm, color, 146 min
With Stefan Kvietik, Jozef Kroner, Ivana Valesova
Czech with English subtitles

Using the life of bees as its central metaphor, Jakubisko’s sweeping film chronicles the ups and downs in the life of a family during the thirty-year period prior to World War I in a remote Czech corner of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The family patriarch (Kroner, of Shop on Main Street fame) is a bricklayer and beekeeper who in the film’s first part sees his family through tribulations, intrigue, and considerable sexual activity. The later part of the film focuses on the nationalist political activities of the son (Kvietik). Made in a grand and beautiful cinematic style, the film won many prizes at international festivals and was named best Czechoslovakian film of the 1980s by the nation’s film critics.

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June 9 (Friday) 7 pm
June 13 (Tuesday) 7 pm

An Ambiguous Report About the End of the World (Nejasna zprava o konci sveta)

Directed by Juraj Jakubisko
Czech Republic/Slovakia 1997, 35mm, color, 138 min
With Deana Horváthová, Milan Bahul, Joachim Kemmer
Czech with English subtitles

This exquisitely crafted, surreal fairy tale for adults recounts the destruction of a remote mountain village (not unlike the one in which Jakubisko grew up) when it is thrust into contact with civilization. The prophecy of Nostradamus is fulfilled as wolves invade, houses sink into the ground, crops go up in flames, and helicopters attack. A bitter parable of mankind at the turn of the millennium, it nonetheless offers the hope and promise of children in a new world.


June 9 (Friday) 9:30 pm 
June 12 (Monday) 8:45 pm

The Jester and the Queen (Sasek a královna)

Directed by Vera Chytilová
Czechoslovakia 1987, 35mm, color, 90 min.
With Boleslav Polivka, Chantal Poulainová, Jiri Kodet
Czech with English subtitles

This lively juxtaposition of pathos, comedy, fantasy, and politics presents the doubled-story of a medieval court jester who is obliged to entertain his queen and of his counterpart, the chateau’s present-day caretaker, who thinks he has discovered the former queen in a German tourist. Both the jester and the custodian are played by the distinguished Czech mime Polivka. Chytilová employs exuberant visual techniques, music, costume design, and pageantry to create an anarchic allegory that recalls the best of her work from the New Wave period.

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June 10 (Saturday) 8:30 pm
June 12 (Monday) 7 pm

Birds, Orphans, and Fools (Vtackovia, siroty a blazni)

Directed by Juraj Jakubisko
Czechoslovakia/France 1969, 35mm, color, 88 min
With Philippe Avron, Juraj Sykora, Juraj Kukura
Czech with English subtitles

Made in the shadow of the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968, this classic of the Czech New Wave was suppressed for more than twenty years until its release in 1990. A wild, avant-garde work typical of its times, Birds depicts a world devastated by war as it focuses on two crazy pals living in a deserted church who take in a female Jewish waif. The three try to recreate a sense of family and home, each devoted to playing the fool as a measure of distance from the horrors they have absorbed and from the madness of the world around them.

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