The Student News Site of Gannon University since 1947


The Student News Site of Gannon University since 1947


The Student News Site of Gannon University since 1947


How Vera Chytilova shocked the world through the rebellion of women

March 22, 2024/Midnight 


Erie Pa., — In a career dominated by men, Czech director Vera Chytilova became the forefront of the Czech New wave – the time art, politics, and female sexuality came together through film. 


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Chytilova originally went to school for architecture and philosophy but left it behind to pursue a career as a model. Shortly after, she was invited to study at the Film and TV school of the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague (FAMU) becoming the first woman to be accepted into the university. FAMU held many notable founders of the Czech New Wave, but Chytilova was the one to take lead and make history. 


In her graduation project, Ceiling, she used her experience as a model to comment on the fashion industry and the treatment of women working in it. The film shows a day in the life of fashion model Marta – a young woman who has taken a break in her medical education to concentrate on a more fashionable career. Marta seldom speaks and her day is narrated for her – mostly by men.  


Despite the focus being on her, she lacks the ability to communicate, to tell us who she is. Instead, others decide that for her, and we learn the conceptualized version of her through the eyes of men who infantilize an educated woman and boil her down to the appeal of her beauty – as if that is all she is.  


This graduation project is only the beginning of Chytilova’s philosophical and feminist films. 


Her debut film, Something Different, shows the separate lives of two women being criticized by men who hold power over them. Viewing two stories of an Olympic gymnast and upset housewife, the film tells of two vastly different women who have the same thing in common – being criticized for trying their hardest. The gymnast’s coach and housewife’s husband both find the women’s tiniest of flaws to diminish them to the nothingness they viewed them as. With built up frustration, the two women reject the men’s power. 


But her highly praised yet most controversial piece was what really made film history and what led her to be the founding mother of the Czech New Wave the defiant Daisies. 


In the techniques of humor and art, Chytilova created a satirical piece on the political state of Czechia and the spoiled world it became. Daisies tells the story of two young women who decide to become just as rotten as the world around them.  


The film takes us on the lead characters, Marie 1 and Marie 2, anarchic adventures in a disoriented world of privilege. While it focuses on critiquing the country’s communist state, it reaches the topic of women’s sexuality through visual femininity and acts of absurdity.  




The use of psychedelic symbolism to express femininity can be seen through flowers, makeup, light colors, and dances through fields, showing the instilled ideas of a woman’s ideal delicacy. The conversations between the young women seem to be a dash of nonsense saturated by youthful giggles as if they were foolish girls who lacked brilliance – a common stereotype rooted in misogyny. 


But the women prove against this. Through manic mischief, the two girls reject the expectations of what “feminine” is and behave in an “unladylike” manner to ridicule the patriarchy. Utilizing their beauty and intelligence, the women scheme against wealthy men and trick them into fulfilling their gluttonous desires of frivolous feasts by ditching dinners. The women lead these men into a trance as the fools in love plead for their desires to be requited. But the ladies’ bedroom shows us they have plenty of other men to steal from, as names and numbers of mockeries cover the walls, only to show each and every one contempt. The common doubt of women’s intelligence allows the girls to use their smarts and continue disrupting the world ruled by men as they abandon these expectations and embrace social destruction.  


Chytilova may have created such rebellious women through art – but these films prove she was created as one herself.  


Her commentaries on politics and womanhood were a bold move on her part. Challenging the government and the expectations held for her in the career of film direction, there was no doubt that negativity would reach her. These farces led to her temporary ban from the industry. The then communist government of Czech Republic resented her films – specifically Daisies – for their obvious criticisms and derisions of the country’s state and societal standards of women. The ironic ban of Daisies proved the film’s point of the country’s controls and expectations.  


She was block-listed in 1970 after the release of her film Fruit of Paradise, inspired by the parable of Adam and Eve to discuss women’s sexuality and the loss of innocence. This six-year ban ended with a pleading note to Czech’s president, requesting to return. The note was accepted, and she returned to her chaos through creation.  


Despite the government’s attempt to rid of Daisies and Chytilova from the film world, they failed, and both the art and the artist continued to be praised. 


Her themes of women rejecting society’s sexist standards carried on until the end of her career. After passing away in 2014, the world was reminded of the courageous voice that had been lost and the legacy she left behind.  


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