valDespite intense social and political messages, Valerie and Her Week of Wonders is not a grim, oppressive movie. It is not about defeat, but triumph. The film’s final scene, in which nearly every version of every character parades through the village streets and Valerie finally gets some rest, is in a way a premonition of the jubilant Velvet Revolution that would remove the Soviet yoke once and for all some nineteen years later. It is a testament to the determination of the Czech people to be true to their own character no matter the attempts to force upon them some external system of behavior fundamentally at odds with their own — a character perhaps best summarized by how all of this political symbolism passed by resurgent Soviet dominance without being caught. Overarching it all is Valerie‘s ability to remain steadfastly optimistic, hopeful, and curious despite all the attempts to control her, subjugate her, or own her. It is the story of whimsy’s triumph over the grim, of liberation’s victory over oppression.

Keith Allison is the chief Bacchanologist at Teleport City.