Year of Release: 1993
Director: Krzyztof Kieslowski
Stars: Juliette Binoche, Benoit Regent, Florence Pernel, Charlotte Very, Helene Vincent, Phillipe Volter
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 10
“Three Colors: Blue” introduced to a vaster audience the universe of Krzysztof Kieslowski, always dominated by the search of meaning and the need of connection in a world where contact is often non-existent.
“Trois Couleurs:Bleu” premiered at the Venice Film Festival in 1993 and came preceded by the critical acclaim that Kieslowski had had in the Cannes Film Festival with “La Double Vie de Véronique”(1991) and the TV Series “Dekalog” (that spawned the renowned “A Short Film About Love” and “A Short Film about Killing”).
The film was shot under the concept of a trilogy dedicated to the ideals upheld by the French revolution, namely liberty, equality and fraternity (these last two would be the central themes in the following films, respectively “Trois Couleurs:Blanc” and “Trois Couleurs:Rouge”).
“Bleu” centers it’s story on Julie, a woman we see in the beginning of the film being involved in a car crash, where she eventually loses her husband and daughter. Julie becomes aware of her tragedy while in the hospital, and the audience realizes that her husband was a world renowned composer. His latest project was a hymn for the European Union. Julie starts to become haunted by the music that was being composed, and we realize that is was she the one responsible for the creation of the music, not her husband. Once out of the hospital Julie goes through her belongings and arranges everything in order to distance herself of the life she once had – her goal is to lead a life with no connections, detached as much as possible – visiting her mother in the asylum she mentions – “les sentiments sont des pièges” (the feelings are traps). As the story unwraps Julie starts creating new relationships and becoming aware of old ones that had always been there, but not of her knowledge.
This short summary of the story of “Trois Couleurs: Bleu” serves to showcase some of the themes that were always part of the work of K. Kieslowski. In it we have the individual that has been somewhat damaged, and that tries to distance himself/herself from what surrounds him/her, and ultimately finds redemption/salvation. In this case, the story focuses on a woman (played with a sad intensity by the radiant Juliette Binoche) that has lost her family. Her pain doesn’t come through in tears or emotional outbursts – instead she tries to create a distance between herself and what she once was. She tries to “erase” that former person, that life. She takes with herself nothing but a windshime, composed of blue stones that used to be in her daughter’s room. In her effort to silence her pain, Julie tries to create a life where she has no relationships with anyone – something that proves impossible, since everywhere she goes, she seems to touch someone’s existence, from the prostitute that lives in her building, to her husband’s former music collaborator (who has always loved her). And even though she tries to silence it, the music still echoes through her, which is something that always haunts her, and ultimately something that will be cathartic for her final realization and liberation. The peace that she finds, is extended to the sense of closure she tries to bring to all the matters that were part of her previous life – very much like a closure of a circle.
The film is a stunning creation from K. Kieslowski, starting with the beautiful way it was shot (from the director of photography Slawomir Idziak), to the music from his usual collaborator Zbigniew Preisner, who creates in this film a truly operatic and almost transcendental score (adjusting itself to the fact that the main character is a composer). The actors are wonderful, with all the applause going rightfully to Juliette Binoche – she creates a muted pain that is extremely visible and heartfelt. Julie is a “walking wound” trying to heal the best way possible, trying to rebuild an existence with small details, with small gestures, in an effort to fill a huge emotional gap.
This is a film that will continue to surprise and touch audiences – it’s filled with beauty and melancholy but in a way, there’s an underlying sense of joy and of the celebration of life, that you can’t help being surrendered by it.