Thursday, October 06, 2005

three colors trilogy

first, this is not a review. just my thoughts about these films, if you want reviews go to internet movie database and see internal and external reviews there(here are the links blue, white, red).

ever since i first read the reviews of krzysztof kieslowski's 'three colors : red' in 1995 and saw the accompanying incredibly beautiful stills, i wanted to see it and the other two films of the trilogy. but had to wait till last weekend to do that. though i bought the dvd set about two months ago i decided to watch all three, one after the other in one sitting, so had to wait until i got the time. in the end, i watched them separately. it took at least a day to digest each, even though they are relatively short (none going over 100 min).

and it was a one of the most rewarding cinema experiences of my life. they were so intense, so richly detailed and so visually stunning that i feel compelled to watch them again and again. even if you don't understand french or has difficulty with it (as i do) i recommend that you watch the films with the english subtitles off, at least on repeat viewing so as to not to miss anything.

literally everything in them is there for a reason connected with the theme or the plot of the film, from background details to the speed in which the camera moves. they are filled with symbolism but never in a obscure way, one can easily grasp the meaning of symbols and admire the director's stylistc creativeness. unlike say, tarentino films which are also richly detailed, but which require that you know something about the genre he is parodying/paying tribute to by each film to fully appreciate his stylistic virtuosity, as well as his usual crop of 'in' jokes.

here even the very few details that seems not to make sense become clear when you see all three. so if you see a old stooped person pushing a empty bottle to a high recycling bin, don't worry, if you don't get it, you will in the end. as for 'in' jokes there is only one about a imaginary dutch composer but it's woven in to the plot (in both blue and red) so doesn't matter.

it's always better to watch a film without any preconceived notions about them so don't watch the extras included in the dvd before watching the film (for that matter don't read the introductions that come with classic novels). a work of art can have several interpretations so don't limit yourself before hand.

if you already don't know, the themes of the films broadly corresponds to the ideals of the french revolution (liberté, egalité, fraternité ) and the colors(blue, white, red) to the french flag.


set in paris, this one features juliet binoche, one of my favorite actresses in her best ever performance to date, all the while looking very chic. whole film is tightly focused on her, in fact there is only one scene without her.
she plays a women, julie, who loses her husband and daughter in a road accident. how does one mourn such a loss? can anyone live in a complete state of liberty? what is the value of liberty? or is the whole thing about regenerative power of love? as i said there may be several interpretations.
music plays a greater role here than in the other two movies. it is almost a character here, director forces one to see it with frequent blackouts(or whiteouts) and unfocused or still shots.


in spite of what your dvd cover says the main character is karol played by polish actor zbigniew zamachowski and not the character played by julie delpy. he plays a polish man divorced by his french wife for failing to consummate their marriage. it is mostly set in warsaw. again the theme is examined in a personal level. it's about humiliation (absence of equality) and getting even (regaining equality) and like in blue it questions the value of equality. its also about love and resurrections. this one is much more comic than the other two with a fair amount of laughs.


this is now one of my all time favorites (others are one flew over the cuckoo's nest, godfather 1 and 2, pulp fiction and bladerunner) . it simply glows, like 'noble' valantine the model, played by radiantly pretty irene jacobs (ok, i may be having a bit of a crush here, but that is the point. anyway the part was written with her in mind, with her input).

she runs over a dog in a geneva road and then meets its crusty and cynical owner, a retired judge, played magnificently by french actor jean-louis trintignant, who illegally spies on his neighbors' phone conversations. there is also a young law student living across the street from valentine, whom she never seems to meet.
it's a film about people connecting or not connecting, about compassion and understanding, about fraternity and love, and about destiny and second chances. but unlike the ambiguous questioning endings in other two films, here the end is almost blasphemously conclusive (in fact it concludes them too, i am trying hard to avoid spoilers here). one is invited to take a existential leap of faith ( i know kieslowski explicitly denied that he was following kierkegaard and repeatedly denied being a moralist but ...).

imo it is a deeply religious film, in spite of appearances (and i am not the only one see reviews). at the very least, one wants to do 'good' at the end.

what a godlike way to end his career as a director.

now where in sri lanka can i find the double life of véronique and dekalog films?

ps. blue won best film (golden lion) and best actress at venice. white best director (silver bear) at berlin. red did not win anything at cannes to the surprise of many. winner of palme d'or that year, tarantino for pulp fiction said it deserved to win instead of his film.

at the oscars, since the film was stateless (produced a by frenchman, directed by a pole and set in switzerland) academy refused to admit it to the best film in foreign language category. but the ordinary members of academy (that is actors, directors, techncians etc.) successfully petitioned it to be nominated to the best film category, then an unprecedented step for a foreign language film. however best film oscar went to forrest gump beating both red and pulp fiction. ha!

now, i have nothing against forrest gump but if you want to see the difference between a very good film and a great one watch forrest gump and red one after the other, especially since they broadly deal with similar themes - compassion and brotherhood.


Electra said...

its nice and refreshing to find a man (am i being presumptious? :))who liked and appreciated the trilogy. they were stunning. i hate when people discard such fantastic work, whether it be books or movies as 'chick lit' or 'chick flick', just because it has either been created by or features a woman/women. was shakespeare ever 'old english man lit' and stanley kubrik ever 'guy flick'?

pulp fiction is something else, innit? :)

loki said...

I think "Blue" was my favorite although I watched them so long ago I can't be certain...

Keshi said...

some great reviews there...thanks! I havent seen any of em :(

Forrest Gump I have seen and made me cry real bad...I fall apart watching mentally challenged ppl..and Tom Hanks did a very good job there...


Morquendi said...

Yes that was a tough year, but I think the Canne judges decision to go with Pulp Fiction was right.

No doubt that Red was a brilliant film, but in overall contribution to taking the art of film-making forward few movies in the entire history of filmmakeing have rivalled Pulp Fiction. (Citizen Kane and Matrix being among the others)

Red was a masterpiece, a visual treat and Pulp Fiction was an experiment in the visual narrative method and storytelling that went brilliantly right.

And as we have seen in the past few years the lessons learnt from Pulp Fiction have impacted the world of cinema far more than anything learnt from Red.

sittingnut said...

electra and morquendi:
agree with you both about pulp fiction
i have no quarrel with it receiving the top prize at cannes.

as for trilogy being termed a 'chick flick' voting pages in imdb indicates that men rate these movies higher than women.
anyway ppl who make generalized judgments of any kind alway end up losing without knowing.

tom hanks is great. he is one of my favorite actors.