Director: Vera Chytilová
Starring: Eva Bosáková, Vera Uzelacová
Duration: 85 min.
Explores the separate lives of two women, one of them a housewife and the other a competition gymnast, each of them wishing and wondering if they would be happier if their lives were different.
Something Different is the feature length debut from Czech New Wave director Vera Chytilová. It premiered at the 1963 Mannheim Film Festival winning the Main Award Mannheim for Best Film.
This film is an early example of Chytilová's already burgeoning experimental nature. Comprised of two separate alternating stories: one following real life Olympic gold medalist Eva Bosáková, who struggles through training for her final competition, filmed in a semi fictional documentary style; the other more traditional dramatic story follows a woman named Vera (Vera Uzelacová), a dissatisfied housewife with an obnoxious toddler and an uncaring husband.
These opposing stories at first seem to have nothing in common, but the director weaves them in a remarkable way that soon reveals an universal theme. It becomes clear that both women are not entirely happy with their situations. Eva tires of her grueling training day in and day out, and ponders walking away and starting a normal life. While Vera is equally tired of dealing with her bratty son all day, a husband who ignores her at night, and longs to escape from her mundane life.
So these two women emerge as two sides of a coin, each one living out the 'what if' scenario of the other's life. It's a fascinating approach because presented individually, these stories would probably come across as dull and unoriginal, but Chytilová employs some great editing to combine the contrasting styles beautifully; and also uses some inventive camerawork during the gymnastics sequences, utilizing unique angles and making cool twists and turns to liven up the action.
I think the feminist subject matter would have been daring in that time as well, portraying two strong and independent spirited women actively seeking 'something different' for themselves. Here Chytilová brilliantly lays the groundwork for the theme she would soon boldly and masterfully bring to vigorous life in her next film Daisies.
All in all, this is a wonderful debut from a director of immense talent. Sadly, an English friendly version isn't easy to track down, but well worth it if you can find it.
— Bonjour Tristesse