Monday, August 27, 2012

Monday Matinee: Three Colors Trilogy - Blue, White, Red (1993, 1994)

Years and years and years ago, pre-children, my husband and I watched two of the three movies in this trilogy.  And completely fell in love with the artistry and style of the decorated Polish director Krzysztof Kieslowski.  We also were able to watch his most famed and ambitious work "The Decalogue", which is 10 short stories based on each of the Ten Commandments.  His work is thoughtful and artistic in a way that makes you want to watch the films more than once, just to better read between the lines and catch little signs and clues you may have missed in an earlier watching.  In all of his work, his characters are always faced with moral dilemmas, and there are subtle themes of the interconnectivity in life.  

Two seconds after I learned that this trilogy had been released on Blu-Ray, I whipped out my credit card and purchased the set for my husband for Christmas.  

There was absolutely nothing random about the way Kieslowski planned this trilogy.  He constructed the themes of each around those of the French Revolution AND around the colors of the French flag:  Liberty (Blue), Equality (White) and Fraternity (Red).  


In Blue, a young wife and mother (Juliette Binoche) is the sole survivor of a car accident that took the lives of her daughter and her classical composer husband.  At first, her survival drives her to attempt suicide but she can't go through with it.  So instead she attempts to kill herself psychologically by erasing all evidence of them from her life, moving from a wealthy estate to a run-down apartment, and deadening her soul to any outsider.  Throughout the movie, however, she transforms and strives for that liberty to break free of the shackles that keep her from truly living.  This film is the most quiet of the three, the most subtle, and the least evocative, barring Binoche's graceful beauty.


In White, a rumpled, pathetic Karol has been reduced to an all-time low.  He has been divorced by his icy, materialistic wife (Julie Delpy), and is unemployed and penniless.  He leaves France and returns to his homeland Poland, and as a result of a single-minded goal of wreaking revenge on his ex-wife, rises to an entrepreneurial success.  It is all about getting even, and does he ever.  At the same time, he will always be in love with this horrid woman, and seeking her approval.  This filmed has been deemed a comedy, and I guess I could see that, assuming you clarify it as a black comedy.  I didn't do much laughing, but oh, it was sharp and clever, and I felt a huge sense of satisfaction to see the underdog get his day in a slightly disturbing ending.  


In Red, the third and final installment, we follow the life of a beautiful, single model in her daily comings and goings...her photo shoots, her ballet classes, her obsession in being near the phone to receive calls from her controlling boyfriend.  One day, she hits a dog with her car, and in delivering the wounded animal to its owner, meets a reclusive old judge.  The judge, she learns, likes to eavesdrop on his neighbors phone calls, which offends the young woman.  Still, a friendship develops between the two that is based on matters of morality.  They are both good for each other.  More than in the other films, this one explores the threads that connect us all.  And in a final scene, we get a tiny glimpse (watch closely or you will miss it) of characters from all three films, that provide a suggestion on how all of their lives have turned out.  It was definitely an "Ooooohhhh!  Cool!" moment, where everything comes together and kind of gels.

By the descriptions, you probably can figure out that these are not movies that employ high action scenes and mindless running around.  This is artistic indie film at its best.  It is important to note that you watch these movies in order.  But if you are up for something smart and thought-provoking, I think you will find this trilogy extremely satisfying.  (And if you do, I highly recommend "The Decalogue"!)    

4.5 out of 5 stars


16 comments:

Peppermint Ph.D. said...

I've never heard of these, but they do sound interesting :) Keeping my fingers crossed that we'll have a couple of rainy, windy days WITH electricity to watch movies and catch up on reading :)

bermudaonion said...

I've never heard of this trilogy. Vance loves indie films so I will ask him if he's familiar with it - maybe I'll impress him with my knowledge! lol

Beth F said...

I haven't heard of these either but I'll keep them in mind and add them to the movie list. (Will I ever catch up with anything?)

annieb said...

I have these movies on DVD and you have inspired me to watch them again. I loved them when I first watched, many years ago. Originally, I didn't see them in order, since I rented them from some video rental and then found the DVDs and forgot about them. Red is my favorite. Thanks for the reminder.

C.B. James said...

These are wonderful, aren't they. I was going to recommend The Decalogue, but you've already seen that. The story about the two brothers who inherit their father's stamp collection has always stayed with me.

Have you seen The Double Life of Veronique? I'm almost sure it's by the same director, but it's wonderful in any case, very much like Blue, White, Red and I think you'd love it.

Zibilee said...

These are movies I have never heard of, but that sound really nuanced and interesting. I am betting that it would be interesting to hole up with the hubby and watch all three one afternoon/evening.

caite said...

Oh, I love, love, love these movies!
It has been too long since I last watched them.
Now The Delalogue I have not seen...off to check Netflix...

rhapsodyinbooks said...

Well I'm not an artistic indie fan anymore- I never "get" anything these days. But I know these 3 have lots of critical respect.

Stephanie Ward said...

I am becoming a huge artistic indie fan, and these sound wonderful. I've heard people talking about them, but I never really knew what they were about. Thank you!

Alyce said...

Well, these are new to me. I haven't watched Indie films since college - more from a lack of time and attention span than anything else. Amazing that I can sink right into a book, but I have a hard time sitting through just about anything tv or movie oriented without feeling the need to get up and do something else. The more I read the more I notice this tendency.

Amy said...

I watched these so long ago, I definitely need to watch them again!

Tasha B. said...

Sounds very interesting!

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

I have been curious about this trilogy for years but I never really knew what the films were about. I think I may finally have to check them out.

Natalie~Coffee and a Book Chick said...

Just put this in my Netflix queue. Can't wait for them to come in!

Marie said...

I love this series! I think Red was my favorite but I remember seeing them all in theaters one by one and just loving them. Maybe it's time for a re-watch!

Kathleen said...

These will definitely be added to my queue for the film club that I still do with my son. Thanks for sharing as I am not sure I would have heard of these otherwise.