I attended a very nice Krzysztof Kieslowski double bill at the Cameo Cinema in Edinburgh a while back but there was something about it that bothered me. First up was the 1991 film LA DOUBLE VIE DE VERONIQUE which, as a first taste of Kieslowski was incredibly interesting. The choice for the second half of the afternoon’s programme was quite baffling, they decided to show THREE COLOURS: RED, which of course, is the last film in the THREE COLOURS trilogy. Now maybe it’s just me, but I think showing the last film in a trilogy as an individual piece, within a double bill that doesn’t include the other films is just plain odd. Those of us in the audience who hadn’t been exposed to any of the films before were now in a state of confusion, as if we’d just read the last page of a book, first.
Luckily, the final chapter of this trilogy is a million miles away from the endings of say, the BACK TO THE FUTURE or GODFATHER trilogies in that, with these examples, there is a wrapping up of a common storyline that has developed over 3 films. Although it’s not so much the case with THREE COLOURS There is, however, a conclusion, an intertwining of character fate that would have been better served having seen the first 2 movies.
So back to the start I go…..
THREE COLOURS: BLUE is the first of the trio of films that follows the order of the French flag, Blue White and Red. This is a stunning, contemplative start that sees Juliette Binoche play Julie, a woman of inner strength who is forced to deal with the grief of losing her composer husband and daughter in a car crash that the protagonist herself, survived. Kieslowski crafts the mood of this film so completely that when watching it, you find yourself immersed in the plight of Julie as she rebuilds her life. She is in all but 1 of the scenes which pulls you into her world although when there, you get the feeling she’d rather be alone.
Solitude seems to be a comfort for Julie with many long scenes involving only Binoche, the melancholic score and Kieslowski’s aesthetic lending weight to a state of mind, a raw emotion, a memory or an intention. Her lover, friend and eventual collaborator Olivier (played by the late Benoit Regent) drifts in and out of the story but plays an important part in the journey she embarks on. This journey is beautifully photographed by Slawomir Idziak who has worked on a wide range of stuff including BLACK HAWK DOWN and HARRY POTER AND THE ORDER OF THE PHEONIX. The score, which is like another character in this film is provided by Zbigniew Preisner who’s credits include another of my favourite films EUROPA EUROPA.
The following scenes demonstrate perfectly the feeling of the film. Julie looks at a piece of score written by her late husband, look out for camera tracking along the notes, as each note passes, it drifts out of focus and disappears. The note of the moment is important and sharp with the past and future being unclear, very much Julie’s mindset at that time.
The scene below is a good example of the solitude and fragility of Julie’s existence. Within that fragility however is a strength that comes from within. The use of music here is masterful combined with light and an actress giving so much with so very little.