Of all Krzystztof Kieslowski’s masterpieces, his last, the Three Colours Trilogy, is the one that has connected most with UK and US audiences. Commissioned off the back of The Dekalogue, (a TV series that was blowing minds on a scale of The Wire, when The Wire was in short pants) The Three Colours Trilogy is the ultimate auteuristic indulgence. The three parts comprise Three Colours Blue, White and Red, representing the liberty, equality and fraternity that those colours stand for within the French flag. The ever matter-of-fact Kieslowski admits in this Blu-Ray’s awesome bonus features that the inspiration behind the theme of the French flag was the French funding that he had been offered. If it had been American money, it would have been a different film. Simple as that.
Part one, Three Colours Blue, is an anti-tragedy. Juliet Binoche plays Julie, a composer mourning the death of her husband and daughter. Along with the theme of Liberty, she disowns all of her possessions, including her husband’s musical compositions, on which the world had been waiting. It becomes hard for Julie to liberate herself from the people who care about her and the responsibility those relationships bring her. She battles her demons, making friends along the way. Blue is a stylish, original film and landmark in European cinema.
Part Two, Three Colours White is an anti-comedy. Unlike Blue and Red, which both heavily feature their title colour, white is a virtually unfilmable colour and this film feels the least cohesive with the trilogy. Unlike the other films, it leaves France quite early and is set mainly in Kieslowski’s native Poland. Zbigniew Zamachowski plays Karol, a down and out Polish barber in Paris. After an embarrassing divorce hearing, Karol is forced out on to the streets. He is rescued by a suspicious Polish businessman, who transports him back to Poland in a suitcase. Back on familiar soil, he embarks on the capitalist dream and rises to the top of a shady business empire. Karol gets his chance in the spirit of equality, the ironically posed theme of this chapter.
Part Three, Three Colours Red, is a feast for the eyes. It is beautifully shot and follows the story of Valentine (Irene Jacob, also the star of Kieslowski’s The Double Life of Veronique) a model, who accidently hits a dog with her car. On tracking down the dog’s owner, a surly retired judge, she strikes up a love-hate relationship with him. Their lives draw parallel with one another and there are some interesting ideas about universal stories. Kieslowski’s view of Fraternity, the last of the themes, is just as ironic as his look on Liberty and Equality. It takes the form of a central character tapping the phones of his neighbors.
All in all, this is a noteworthy Blu-Ray release and a must-have for any aficionado of European cinema.
Amongst the usual trailers and amorphous ‘behind the scenes’ montages, there is a real gem of an extra. Each disc has a short clip of Kieslowski sitting at a telecine, giving a directing master class. He talks the viewer through a couple of minutes of cuts, explaining his methods and motivations. For fans of Kieslowski’s work, or budding directors, this is an astonishing rare chance to hear a great director speak so candidly about his work.
Three Colours Trilogy is realesed on Blu-Ray on November 21st.