Director Jaromil Jires made some of the best films of the Czech New Wave, including the remarkable one-two punch of 1969’s The Joke (a gripping political satire made in the waning days of the Prague Spring) and 1970’s Valerie And Her Week Of Wonders (a vivid coming-of-age fantasy, made after the Soviets reasserted control over Czechoslovakia). Valerie—which airs on Turner Classic Movies on late Sunday/early Monday, at 2 a.m. Eastern—stars Jaroslava Schallerova as a teenager roaming through a troubling dreamscape, where she’s beset by cloaked monsters and hectoring adults. Just like the surreal Vitezslav Nezval novel on which it’s based, the movie leaves aside the political for the personal, using the tropes of gothic horror as way of expressing the emotions of a young girl who’s becoming a woman. And like The Joke, Valerie And Her Week Of Wonders is all the more potent for its concision, spending only 73 minutes on a whirlwind trip through its heroine’s nightmares.
October 10, 2014 newsreel