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Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Kieslowski's Trois couleurs

Some directors create stunning-looking films that say nothing. Some directors can say nothing by image, using voice-over or a character's speech as a shortcut.
8 1/2 was the film that changed my view on cinema and made me truly realise the power of the medium, as I watched Fellini tell a story and communicate ideas through image. Now I've discovered Kieslowski, another master of visual storytelling. 

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Close-up of the lower part of a car. An odd sound implicating trouble with the engine. A little hand from a car waving a blue candy wrapper. A little girl in the backseat facing backwards, looking bored. A car accident. Close-up of some feather fluttering, indicating someone's breathing. Extreme close-up of an eye, with the reflection of a doctor. And so on. Kieslowski doesn't reveal everything right away- his effective use of close-ups and extreme close-ups makes the opening sequence of Bleu a puzzle, in which each shot contains some clues.


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Blue. Liberty.
Julie is "liberated" after her husband and daughter are killed in an accident. She then sells the house and everything and moves away, trying to free herself of history, memories and pain. But she can't. The past is always with her. Julie can be free only when she comes back, accepts it, and reconciles with it.


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Blue. Sadness.
Of the 3 films, Bleu is the saddest.
But it ends on a hopeful note. 


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Different from Blanc and Rouge, Bleu is internal- the film mostly focuses on Julie's mind.


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Each of all 3 films has a dominant colour, but in Bleu, Kieslowski not only uses blue props but also uses blue lighting (filter), which, combined with music, symbolises the past that keeps haunting Julie.


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In Bleu, there is 1 close-up shot of a sugar cube absorbing coffee. Julie concentrates her thoughts on a mundane thing right before her, not noticing her surroundings, as a way of coping with her tragic experience and avoiding dwelling on her pain. 
At the same time, it means she just lives in the moment, focusing on the very thing she's doing. Nothing else matters. Just be. 


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Kieslowski does something unusual in editing: sometimes in a shot of Julie, there's a fade to black, then back to the same scene. Ellipsis? A punctuation of sorts? I see it as a fall- a fall into her thoughts, out of the present moment. Then back to it. 


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The 3 films are very different, in subject and tone, but the core spirit is the same: in spite of everything, Kieslowski chooses Life. 
1 of the most thought-provoking scene in Blanc is when Karol accepts a man's request to kill him, which he can't do himself- he shoots at the man with a fake gun, then, saying it's a blank, the next one would be real, asks whether the man is still sure he wants to die. The man says he's not sure, and in the end, chooses to live. 


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Of the 3 films, Blanc is the bleakest. 
I may say it's the weakest instalment, but I don't quite know what to make of it, and perhaps simply don't grasp its meaning. 
The key thing is how to understand Blanc and the idea of equality. 

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Rouge is the warmest. 
If Bleu questions the idea of freedom and Blanc is an ironic take on the concept of equality, Rouge deals with fraternity unironically. 

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Like Bleu, Rouge is the kind of film that makes you feel intensely alive, makes you more alert, more aware of things around you. 

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Rouge is about chance, and happenstance, and fate, and the interconnectedness of all things. 
Bleu makes you wonder if the person closest to you has another life you never know about. Rouge makes you wonder if there's anyone around you like Valentine and Auguste, who constantly cross paths but never really meet. 

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But not only chance, Rouge is also about choice. Valentine and Joseph Kern may meet by chance, when she runs over his dog, but she chooses to make some kind of connection with him, and he chooses to take action, to change himself. 

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Red is Fraternity. 
Red is blood. Love. Passion. Anger. Fire. Destruction. Love. Life. 

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Some people may dislike the coincidences, especially the ending, noting the artifice, but Rouge should be seen as a meditation rather than an exercise in realism. The film is so beautiful, not only visually, and the philosophical questions it raises outweigh the feeling that it's contrived. 

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Trois couleurs is not meant to be watched once. The films, especially Bleu and Rouge, are something I'd come back to, often. For Kieslowski's talent, especially the interesting camera angles. And for his humanity. 

17 comments:

  1. Wish it were about 81/2 a film i know.

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    Replies
    1. So my blog post didn't make you feel like checking out the trilogy? No?
      I've failed then.

      Delete
    2. In a way you are right. At least partly. For i may have failed you as a reader ... But that's it! :)

      How are you? I wrote you a mail lng time ago. You didn't reply. Just as well, for mails are hard work. For me, at least.

      Delete
    3. Guess the problem is that it's not a review.
      I rarely write reviews.
      What email? I'm always busy, and stressed.
      How are you?

      Delete
    4. "I'm always busy, and stressed."

      A line from the anthem to Modernity? No other age glorified labor to this extent. Au contraire: leisure has been often glorified.

      I am well. Thanks. Alternate my time between writing and taking care of myself and others.

      Delete
    5. "...An anthem of our own times?" would have been a better designation perhaps. Aesthetically speaking.

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    6. Ah.
      Oh well.
      I should have written about The Double Life of Veronique, another Kieslowski film I also love, but don't have time.

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    7. You didn't say what email.
      But I'm glad to hear you're well.

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    8. I wrote you a mail asking how you were. On 9/19/16.

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    9. Can't find it.
      At least when I searched for you, the last one was on 10/8; I didn't find anything dated 19/9.

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    10. Let' sue Google together and make a few bucks, what say? ;)

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    11. Hahahaha.
      Go watch the Kieslowski films instead. I wanna hear what you think.

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    12. You will never be rich (think of it as a benediction.) ;)

      I'll definitely watch them whenever i'll get the opportunity.

      Delete
    13. But I'd like to be rich! :D

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    14. p.s. The pun was intended.

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