Czechoslovakia 1962. Dir Vera Chytilová.

Chytilová’s Ceiling makes a powerful comment on 1960s fashion and cinematography. It is a prime example of cinema d’auteur and an introspective essay. Filmed in Prague, it is loaded with sharp insights into the fashion world that complement those of Michelangelo Antonioni’s Blow Up (1966) set in London. Like Antonioni, Chytilová approaches the fashion and the surrounding media world critically, treating it as a sign of the vacancy and self-indulgence of contemporary society and human relationships within. Chytilová (a model in the early 1950s) was a fashion industry insider, and thus ideally equipped to thoroughly investigate her subject; in this case a fashion model as a character type. The model remains something of a mysterious, otherworldly creature. In the original script, a former medical student becomes a model and acquires an affluent lover. Disgusted by her experiences, she finally boards a train and meets some simple country people. Feeling renewed by this encounter, she returns to studying medicine. In its final version, the film is subtler, although maintaining elements of the original script. Chytilova did not forget her own experiences as a model, or her intention to provide a critical examination of the fashion world. The boredom of the model’s life is repeatedly emphasised and seen from a feminist standpoint.