Collected Works: Film
Fruit of Paradise
directed by Vera Chytilová
Adam and Eve wander, naked, through the wilderness. Over the course of eight minutes, colours and shapes shift around the biblical figures’ faint forms. The camera flits from wide shots to close-ups of vegetation. Images are layered over the top of one another, blades of grass pressed against the skeletons of leaves. The couple’s expulsion from Eden is accompanied by a chorus of voices and a rustling ride cymbal, matching the psychedelic visuals with a haunting soundtrack.
Fruit of Paradise follows three characters: Josef and Eva, our modern-day Adam and Eve, are joined by the mysterious Robert. We watch as Eva, seemingly unconcerned with her own husband’s activities, indulges her attraction to this stranger. Observing Robert first from afar, she then starts to stalk him. At a climactic juncture, Eva illicitly enters his room to trawl through the contents of his briefcase. Rummaging about, she changes, becoming somehow stronger, more sexually aware.
The film’s loose narrative splays unpredictably, favouring symbolism to a propulsive plot, leaving the viewer to decipher the meaning of each sequence. The score is pierced sporadically with the shrill, startling cry of a peacock, its unexplained presence both disorientating and intriguing the listener. There is an acute irony at play here: the film is concerned with the quest for truth and knowledge, yet its action is presented in a determinedly elusive manner.
Like Eve and her apple, we are left in longing, hankering for a message or motive as Chytilová denies us one. The film reformulates one of the world’s most familiar narratives into a playful, dense experiment, refusing to quench the thirst of expectation. Instead, we are challenged to watch this vivid adventure with an open mind, seeking an interpretation of our own. As we attempt to fathom the forbidden riddles of Fruit of Paradise, signifiers slither past, soon snaking out of sight.
Words by Sophia Martin-Pavlou