Valerie and Her Week of Wonders: Reawakening Czech Cultural Heritage through the Psychodynamics of New Wave Surrealism

Title

Valerie and Her Week of Wonders: Reawakening Czech Cultural Heritage through the Psychodynamics of New Wave Surrealism

Subject

Film and Television Studies

Description

By 1960, Freudian psychoanalysis was commonplace across Europe. Central to this were the
concepts of the id, ego, and superego – forces pertinent at both an individual and societal
level. In an unhealthy subject, according to Freud, these three psychological components fall
out of an ideal dynamic balance and must be restored by an intervening external agent.
Freud’s theories particularly influenced art, especially the surrealism of the Czech New
Wave film movement, which sought to restore the ideal psychological balance by
stimulating radical reorganisations of society. A prime example of this is Jaromil Jireš’s
film Valerie and Her Week of Wonders (1970) which aimed to rebalance the unstable Czech
social dynamic by provoking the audience to reconnect with their historic cultural values
and synthesise these with the goals of communism. This article analyses three key
sequences that exemplify this objective: the first illustrates how Valerie (surrogate for the
ego) initially vacillates, but ultimately aligns herself with symbols of Czech heritage
(representing the id). The second sequence shows Valerie’s ill-fated appeasement strategy
of completely aligning with the film’s antagonist (superego). The final sequence is a
culmination of these themes, posing possibilities for a new Czech future created by the now
activated viewer.

Creator

Toby Phipps

Date

2021

Files

Collection

Citation

Toby Phipps, “Valerie and Her Week of Wonders: Reawakening Czech Cultural Heritage through the Psychodynamics of New Wave Surrealism,” URSS SHOWCASE, accessed June 20, 2024, https://urss.warwick.ac.uk/items/show/127.