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27 Feb 2015 - 16 Mar 2015

Věra Chytilová and Jaroslav Kučera: The Fruit of Paradise

An exhibition exploring Věra Chytilová’s working process, as illustrated by her most stylized work, the ‘film opera’ The Fruit of Paradise. This special display reveals the individual layers of the final film via trial prints and photographs which were newly discovered in the estate of Chytilová’s husband, cameraman Jaroslav Kučera.

“Tell me the truth.”
“You do not want to know the truth.”

The exhibition accompanying the retrospective of Věra Chytilová is devoted to the ‘opera film’ The Fruit of Paradise, the follow-up to her highly acclaimed Daisies. The Fruit of Paradise, a Czech-Belgian co-production, was shot during the politically fraught period of the Czechoslovak crisis in 1968. The film is a parable  based on biblical symbolism and the story of Adam and Eve. The female protagonist, Eva, who lives with her husband Josef in a luxury pension, begins a flirtatious relationship with Robert, a mysterious womaniser. As Robert and Eva continue their flirtation, she gradually discovers that he is a serial killer of women. Despite his wiles, she manages to escape with her life… At the film’s core, however, is not the story, but rather a philosophical essay on ways of seeking the truth and whether one is capable of accepting one’s own demise.

The Fruit of Paradise is the pinnacle of Věra Chytilová’s stylised work. In many respects it is overexposed and distorted, saturated with symbolism and the even ‘hysterical’ acting by actors from the Ypsilon Theatre in Prague. The exhibition focuses primarily on the visual qualities of this extraordinary film in order to showcase the solid linkage between the formal and semantic levels in Chytilová’s works and on the particular techniques she deployed. The film’s use of experimental art and semiotics, both of which played an important role in the 1960s, is demonstrated through stills and short extracts.

The exhibition explores Chytilová’s collaborative work with her husband, the cameraman Jaroslav Kučera. Stills from the completed film are on display, but the emphasis is on previously unknown material from Kučera’s estate. This includes excerpts from trial copies of the film and also the photographs that were probably those used in creating the film’s atmospheric opening scene depicting the Garden of Eden. By means of these finds, the exhibition seeks to ‘open up’ the various layers of the film and illustrate certain types of contemporary experimentation with image.

Exhibition Curator: Kateřina Svatoňová
Exhibition Design: Zbyněk Baladrán





Part of Defiance and Compassion: The Films of Věra Chytilová




BFI Southbank Atrium, Belvedere Road, South Bank, London SE1 8XT


From: 27 Feb 2015
To: 16 Mar 2015


Czech Center is a coorganizer of the event

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