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Mar 22, 2011 7:00 PM

Fruit of Paradise

FILM CLUB - WOMEN FILM DIRECTORS. Film Fruit of Paradise (Ovoce rajských stromů jíme), Belgium / Czechoslovakia, 1969, 99 min, directed by Věra Chytilová

An experimental, densely symbolic retelling of Adam and Eve, Fruit of Paradise opens before "the Fall," as Josef and Eva wander nude through an Eden depicted through superimposing images of red, brown, and yellow leaves and flora over the two in a park. A choir chants the opening passages of Genesis over baroque music. The switch to the fallen world is marked by the choir chanting, "Tell me the truth," with increasing intensity. A new, clothed Josef and Eva (now played by Karel Novak and Jitka Novákova) lie on a park bench. The film focuses on Eva from this point on, as she explores her new surroundings, which resemble a kind of spa resort filled with wasteful, complacent idiots, and becomes obsessed with a red-suited serial killer named Robert (Jan Schmid). This new world of "truth" and opened eyes is seen using an alternatingly sensual and barren color palette. When Eva discovers Robert's identity, she feels removed from her previous self, alienated from Josef (now a philanderer), and desperate to return to her innocent state. But this is impossible. When Eva tries climbing back over the wall to Eden, once again repeating, "Tell me the truth," she can no longer communicate with Josef. She pushes a red flower she has offered to him toward the camera lens. ~ Michael Buening, Rovi


In All The Bright Young Men and Women, Josef Skvorecky notes that Fruit of Paradise is about the "God who dogmatically forbids people to eat from the tree of knowledge and about the Devil who rationally tempts us to do so." Refreshingly, this film concentrates on the complications and limitations of discovering the truth, rather than issues of guilt and sin. Working with cinematographer and second husband Jaroslav Kucera, Vera Chytilova's film is as visually stunning and thrillingly experimental as her previous work Daisies. Chytilová conveys Eva's awakening to moral complications through visual and aural distortions. A fish-eye lens exaggerates their actual and desired distances. Oscillating voice volumes, reverberations, action deceleration and acceleration, and choppy editing make her experience seem like a druggy nightmare. However, fans of her more well-known classic may be disappointed by this film's more languid pace and oppressively dark symbolism. After this film was completed, it would take six years for Chytilová to get financing for another from the Soviet-subjugated Czechoslovak government, and only after publishing a letter of complaint to president Gustav Husák. ~ Michael Buening, Rovi


Bohemian National Hall, 321 East 73rd Street
NY 10021 New York
United States


Mar 22, 2011 7:00 PM


Czech Centre

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