Czech filmmaker Vera Chytilova dies at 85

Ms. Chytilova had received Czech and French state decorations.
Rene Volfik/AP/File 2009
Ms. Chytilova had received Czech and French state decorations.

PRAGUE — Czech film director Vera Chytilova, one of the leading filmmakers of the new wave of Czechoslovak cinema in the 1960s, has died. She was 85.

Czech public radio and television, citing relatives, say Ms. Chytilova died Wednesday in Prague after battling an unspecified illness for several years.

Ms. Chytilova’s highly acclaimed farcical comedy ‘‘Daisies’’ from 1966 proved her reputation as a provocateur and helped establish her as an artistic force at home and abroad.


Like the movies of other new Czech directors of the time, it represented a radical departure from socialist realism, a typical communist-era genre focusing on realistically depicting the working class’ troubles.

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The heroes of ‘‘Daisies’’ — two teenage girls — decide to get spoiled because the entire world is spoiled, and they want to have some fun.

It was immediately banned before winning the Grand Prix at the Bergamo Film Festival in Italy in 1967.

Born Feb. 2, 1929, in the eastern city of Ostrava, Ms. Chytilova studied philosophy and architecture and also worked as a model before graduating from Prague’s Academy of Performing Arts in 1962.

Unlike colleagues such as Milos Forman, Jan Nemec, and Ivan Passer, Ms. Chytilova didn’t emigrate after the 1968 Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia. The newly established hard-line communist regime banned her films and barred her from making new films for several years.


Her first movie after the ban, ‘‘The Apple Game,’’ won the Silver Hugo award at Chicago Film Festival in 1977.

She combined experiment with absurd humor to target the communist reality and alienated relations between people, and continued doing so even after the 1989 anti-communist Velvet Revolution led by Vaclav Havel.

She said she was never ready to stay silent ‘‘when I face anything wrong. I don’t think it is right just to take care of myself.’’

Of her 20 feature movies, her major works include ‘‘Fruit of Paradise,’’ “Calamity,’’ “Panelstory,’’ “The Very Late Afternoon of the Faun,’’ and ‘‘The Inheritance.’’