Whimsical Cookery is a site for adults who prefer to eat like children, or perhaps just need to cook for some children. This site contains an aversion to vegetables, a love of fried food and cupcakes, lazy shortcuts, some disturbing creations, and an ignorance of proper culinary practices...

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Food in film: Czech surrealism

    Svankmajer's Jídlo                 Chytilová's Sedmikrásky
I am a huge fan of Czech art house and surrealist film.  I know this seems like an oddly specific genre, but Czech filmmakers are hugely innovative and have inspired countless others. (For example, Jan Švankmajer inspiring The Brother's Quay, Tim Burton, and Terry Gilliam).  Perhaps it seems foolish for a blog that makes cakes shaped like cats to then do a 180 into film analysis, but I assure you, the use of food in film can be interesting.  And it is my personal opinion that Czech (and French) films are the best in the world! 

Made in 1966, during communist political rule, Sedmikrásky (Daisies), was banned.  But why?
There are several reasons put forward as to why this film was initially banned.  Czech authorities originally criticized the filmmaker, Věra Chytilová, for making a film that was inaccessible in its avant-garde nature.  There is, in fact, a trend of authority-subversion throughout the film.  The girls are seen pulling pranks and engaging in acts of rebellion.  It has also been suggested that a food fight scene was considered to be in poor taste, as the girls gobble up and then play with a massive amount food at a banquet (that had presumably been set out for communist leaders).  This may have been cause for condemnation, as wasting food was a no-no.  On the surface, the food fight scene appears whimsical and playful, as the girls exchange shots of pies and other dishes, rip down curtains for a fashion show on the banquet table, and then swing on the chandelier.  Daisies is a fun, albeit strange, female buddy film.  Youtube won't let me embed this, but the food fight scene is here: Watch Daisies Food Fight Scene
Some more fun is here:

Perhaps some of the most interesting and bizarre uses of food in Czech film have been executed by Jan Švankmajer.

Jídlo (Breakfast) - 1992
In the first meal of the day, an orderly queue of people file into a room, taking turns eating and then becoming some sort of dispenser of food.

At Lunch, two men struggle to get their waiter's attention.  They eventually become exasperated and begin eating all that is around them, including their table cloth, plates, silverware, the table, and their clothing... before turning on each other.

Zamilované maso (Meat Love) - 1988
Meat Love follows the whirlwind romance and death of two steaks.

You should also check out: The Flat and Flora and Faust