Wednesday, 25 April 2012


Icon Home Entertainment
Available now on DVD and Blu-ray

Using the tenets of the French revolution -- liberty, equality, fraternity -- and resultant tri-colour flag, Krysztof Kieslowski's Three Colours Trilogy further explores one of the Polish writer-director's favourite themes: human inter-connectedness in a haphazard world.

Each film is designated a city (Paris, Prague, Geneva), a protagonsist, and a predominant colour scheme in keeping with its tenet, and the director's unique interpretation on said theme.

Blue (liberty) stars Juliette Binoche as Julie, a woman mourning the loss of her husband and daughter following a car accident in the film's opening moments. Grief is a personal and individual process, and Julie chooses to do so by cutting ties with her past; selling her home, her furniture -- her memories -- and moving into a Paris apartment where she knows no one and vice versa.

But Julie is haunted by the music of her late composer husband, who was working on a symphony to celebrate the impending unification of Europe. Julie's 'liberty' will come from not letting go of the past so much as letting go of her refusal to grieve; embracing both the past and her life ahead. And Binoche is, of course, radiant in the role.

Often considered the lesser of the three films (the overlooked middle child, if you will), White (equality) takes place for the most part in a cold, wintry Poland, where Karol Karol (Zbigniew Zamachowski) has returned following a failed marriage to Parisian beauty, Dominique (Julie Delpy).

She divorces him following his inability to consummate the marriage, but Karol determines to get even (equal), becoming a successful businessman in his homeland, and setting Dominique up for a fall. White, ironically, is a black comedy and Zamachowski makes for an impressively everyman hero. And Delpy, while only in a supporting role, still registers as a believable object of affection.

Red (fraternity) is the final and, arguably, best film in the trilogy. Valentine (Irene Jacob, from Kieslowski's The Double Life of Veronique (1991)) is a model living and working in Geneva, Switzerland. She has a long distance lover and a troubled younger brother, but it's after hitting a dog with her car that she finds a much needed distraction.

The dog belongs to a retired judge (Jean-Louis Trintignant) who spies on his neighbours, listening in on their phone conversations; not for titillation or the purposes of blackmail but to feed his own cynicism.

The judge wants to believe that people are inherently weak and prone to be bad, but Valentine, simultaneously repulsed and intrigued by the judge's actions, also senses a lonely, kindred spirit. Valentine's relationship with the judge influences her immediate future and also brings a surprising close to the trilogy. (Note: Red must be watched last in order for the film's closing scene to have any impact.)

Red earned two posthumous Oscar nominations for Kieslowski (Original Screenplay with trilogy co-scriptor, Krysztof Piesiewicz, and Best Director), the director sadly dying not long after completing Red.

He may have lost out (understandably) to Quentin Tarantino (Pulp Fiction) for Screenplay, and (surprisingly) Robert Zemeckis (Forrest Gump) for Direction, but Red was, and remains, the perfect way to cap Krysztof Kielsowski's cinematic oeuvre.

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