Something Different (1963): Vera Chytilová’s First Feature (Czech New Wave)

Released in 1963, Something Different, Vera Chytilová’s debut feature, was one of the first films of the Czech New Wave, as well as an early example of women’s cinema in the Eastern Bloc.

The film intersperses two separate narratives: one following Vera, a fictional housewife living in Czechoslovakia, and another following Eva, an Olympic gymnast played by real-life Olympic gold medalist Eva Bosáková.

While not as well known as some of Chytilová’s other films such as Daisies and Fruit of Paradise, it won the main prize at the 1963 Mannheim Film Festival, and has been praised by contemporary critics and analyzed by academics.

Chytilová was one of few women filmmakers who participated in the Czech New Wave, and Something Different, like her other works, focuses on contemporary women’s lives.

Something Different merges documentary-style footage of Eva, a Czechoslovakian gymnast played by real-life Olympic gold-medalist Eva Bosáková, as she endures  training in preparation for a competition.

These scenes are juxtaposed with the narrative of the fictional Vera, who is discontented and overwhelmed by housework as she struggles to take care of her misbehaving son and her inattentive husband, eventually resorting to a similarly unsatisfying affair.

The two women’s lives intersect one in one scene,  early on, at a game of cards. Though separate, the two narratives are linked thematically.

After enduring grueling and humiliating training sessions, the film includes scenes of her actually performing her routine at a competition, and a final shot of her working as a gymnastics instructor for a younger woman.

Meanwhile, Vera’s marriage almost collapses as her husband confesses to an affair and demands a divorce.

In the final scene, as unhappy as she might be, Vera is still together with her family.

Directed and written by Věra Chytilová
Music by Jiří Šlitr
Cinematography (b/e): Jan Čuřík
Edited by Miroslav Hájek
Release date: 1963
Running time: 90 minutes

Czechoslovak Socialist Republic

I am grateful to TCM for presenting this rarely-shown film on December 8, 2019.