I discovered Cinémathèque last year but rarely stayed for the second screening because of work the next morning. This year I’ve made a commitment to myself to try to get to as many second screenings as possible, and this week’s was surely the pick of the season thus far for me. The Kieslowsi double was completely sublime.
Three Colors: Blue
I started watching films as an adult in 1992. The first three films were Shattered (Wolfgang Petersen, 1991), The Doctor (Randa Haines, 1991) and Black Robe (Bruce Beresford, 1991). I first saw Blue when released around 1993/94. It was the first ‘arthouse’ film I’d seen and struck me. It opened me up to the fact that there was a whole other world of cinema out there, other than mainstream
Thirteen or so years later and, though I knew basically what the film was about, both I and my appreciation of cinema have evolved and sufficient time has passed to the point that the second viewing was almost like seeing it for the first time. The film is emotionally powerful, confidently and competently directed, though I feel these descriptions to be understatements. For me, it must count as one of the best films I have ever seen.
The three colours in Kieslowski’s trilogy refer to the French flag (blue, white and red), and each colour represents liberty, equality and fraternity respectively. Kieslowski’s depiction of liberty is explored in the context of Julie, the survivor of a terrible car crash (Juliette Binoche) which claimed the lives of her husband and five year old daughter.
Grief is a terrible thing, and those of us who have experienced it first-hand know how disorienting it can be. It is also lonely – no-one else can relieve a person’s pain, and it must be worked through. Binoche’s depiction of a grieving person was a performance of a quality I have never seen her repeat.
Kieslowski delves into one person’s journey and offers tremendous insights. His sense of humanity without sentimentality is awesome. Though he is Polish, the film is in French language and filmed in France (mostly
La double vie de Véronique (The Double Life of Veronique, 1991) and the colours trilogy are the only Kieslowski films that received a commercial release in
Blind Chance recalls for me various films that I have seen that were made later. Like
Each outcome is completely plausible, and tragically ends in pain of one kind or another. A conjugal relationship is formed in each scenario, but with different women and with different outcomes. Kieslowski here is refuting the romantic concept that there is a thing called destiny which predetermines who we end up partnering with. Even if we choose left over right, the popular mythology would have us believe, we will end up with our true soul mate.
Run Lola Run (Lola Rennt, Tom Tykwer, 1998) was more like Blind Chance in content and theme than Sliding Doors. Tykwer’s energy-packed and unconventional romance thriller also used the ‘what-if’ concept to explore philosophical ideas and darker elements of society, though not with Kieslowski’s gritty realism. Tykwer had Lola and Manni die for each other in two scenarios, and a happy ending in the third. Kieslowski’s Witek joins the Party machine in one scenario, becomes a student rebel in another and struggling to remain impartial in the third. The film is profound and moving and the end is sudden and shocking. I sat agape for sometime while the credits rolled.
Based on week 1 of the Kieslowski screenings, I highly recommend the rest of the season at ACMI on Wednesday evenings, 7pm. On March 14 is screening Three Colors: White and Camera Buff. March 21: Three Colors: Red and A Short Film About Love as well as the short Bricklayer. March 28: 2 shorts: Refrain and Factory before two Sam Fuller features (The Naked Kiss and Park Row).