Daisies: A Satirical and Feminine Response to Czechoslovakian Communism and Conformity

The film tells the tale of two lovers, Marie, and Marie, as they lackadaisically live lives of protest and destruction in attempt to be as spoiled as the world around them.


Ivana Karbanova, Marie #1, the brunette on the left, and Jitka Cerhova, Marie #2, the strawberry blonde to the right of her are pictured in a still from the film Daisies.

Rue Daniels, Staff Writer

Last weekend on Girls Night, my friends and I stumbled across a film that was efficiently obscure. Daisies, or Sedmikrásky, explored the theme of destruction and protest that followed the objection to conform to societal norms, in this case, the Czechoslovakian, Communist government and gender stereotypes. The film utilized nonprofessionals to play Marie and Marie to represent the rejection of Czechoslovakian Communism in a satirical and feminine manner. Due to the controversy that arose from the film, not much profit was made by writer and director of the film, Věra Chytilová. This was still the case, despite the low budget that the film used for the production and the release of the film in 1966.

Lovers, Marie #1, played by Jitka Cerhová, and Marie #2, played by Ivana Karbanová, revealed the nature of contained citizens and the exploration of anarchy. They contemplated the turn of the ways of the world, which they concluded to have spoiled. In response to this realization, the Maries decided to act as spoiled as the world that surrounded them. They lived to project chaos and mischief as they manipulated men to retrieve the power placed in the hands of the Communist party. They did not just rob men of their money but spend not a single penny of it. They were unproductive, glutenous, and wasteful. Just as they saw the world to be. The aesthetic, improper conduct of the protagonists revealed the indecencies prominent in society at the time of the new wave of cinema.

Daisies is  influenced by the Czechoslovakian New Wave of cinema. This cinematic movement, which occurred from 1963 until 1968 and  initiated by students of the Film and Television School of the Academy of the Performing Arts in Prague. This was including Věra Chytilová. The films reflected the individuality of the students while still sharing anti-Communist, absurd, and abstract aspects of cinematography. The actors and actresses in the films were typically non-professionals, which remained the case for The Maries. The passion towards objecting the realism associated with the falsifications of a Communist power was done so in a surreal manner, impacted by Czechoslovakia’s new wave of cinema.

The opening credits of the film reflected feminist ideals and the destruction that resulted from greed. The opening credits transitioned between an industrial machine, of sorts, and the effects of war: nuclear explosions, the crashing of planes, and buildings that crumbled beneath themselves. The circular mechanism of the industrial machine reflected the repetition and productivity of female principals. The clips of war and violence reflected the pure destruction of the patriarchy established by male principals. The industrial machine, displayed in the opening credits, insinuates the function of women within society; as they work for the men that long for power, achieved through violence.

The military theme continued in the opening scene that mocked the repetition of productivity that society expected of women. The Maries are introduced by military drumming in the opening scene; depicted as dolls of sorts. As they moved their limbs a creaking sound effect played. This was interrupted by Marie #1 who played a flat note on a nearby trumpet. She then proceeded to identify herself as a “panna.” The translation from Czechoslovakian to English can be interpreted as either a doll or a virgin. The presentation of the Maries as dolls indicated that a puppeteer was controlling them, of sorts, or the hands of the Communist government and the construction of gender.

Daisies utilized color and editing to rebel against the constructions of the Czechoslovakian, Communist government. The film was psychedelically appealing regarding the visuals. The film was a kaleidoscope of both colors, and the lack of. The costuming, sets, props, as well as the filters and tints of the footage, challenged the viewers to analyze the color theory utilized to induce whimsicality. While Marie #1, dressed in a deep blue, appears on a faded green set. While Marie #2 is dressed in a vibrant green, a dingy blue background appears  behind her. Blue itself represented freedom and intuitively. Green is perceived as representation of abundance as well as a lack of experience. The Maries, exceptions to the carefully crafted, Communist Society, appear in contrasting colors, more vibrant than their backgrounds, to reflect the effect of individuality in a place and time of conformity.

Food was a prominent symbol throughout the film — also used to project conformity. So much so, that the excess of nutritional waste had gotten the film banned, after the invasion of the Soviet in Czechoslovakia, in 1968. This was due to the agricultural struggles that the country was facing at the time. The gluttonous habits of the Maries are apparent in most scenes. While the girls lay in bed, they consume singular bites of the plenty of crisp, green apples that lay across the bed amongst them. Marie #2 caught by Marie #1 as she attempted to consume the pit of a peach. The meals that they pick at were visions of extravagance and luxury. The excessive consumption of food reflected the greed of society and the gluttony that we indulge in. The greed that we face when it comes to consumption of all things is what drives us as a society to indulge in pleasures that may otherwise be harmful.

Throughout Daisies, the Maries attempt to pursue lives of gluttony and greed. This was up until the final scene of the film which showed the Maries as they stumbled upon a Banquet that presented them with a feast. The filter was black and white. This was until Marie #2 knocked over a glass. This was the Segway towards the cut scenes of all the extravagant meals presented at the feast. Strategically crafted hors d’oeuvres, layered cakes, and proteins prepared to perfection shows as Marie #1 makes orgasmic noises in response to her own clumsiness. She headed towards the liquor cabinet and the Maries immediately began their consumption. The girls feasted. They moved down seat by seat to take in all the resources available. This was until Marie #2 initiated a fight of food that completely destructed the banquet before them. Cake is thrown from across the set, moving onto any remaining food not yet consumed. Bottles  are  broken, curtains torn, and heels dig into the plates. The girls danced upon the table below, just before they began swinging from the bejeweled chandelier above them. This reflected the girls’ inability to live their lives as spoiled as they had been doing. The final scene insinuates rejection of greed and the gluttony the rest of the world dwells in.

Daisies is an aesthetic film that is symbolically and historically significant. It raises question as to what can result from authoritative power. The Maries, destructive protagonists, are satirical and relevant to not just the time of Communist control in Czechoslovakia, but modern issues within society. This is including but not limited to gender and sexual conformity. If you find yourself contemplating the ways of the world and how it has gone to spoil, watch Daisies for a refreshing and aesthetic film on how conformity can induce destruction. There is no such film that is as obscure and symbolically significant as Daisies.