Polish-born director Krzysztof Kieslowski’s culminating achievement (he died not long after completing it, aged only 54) was this masterful, enigmatic trilogy, named for the three colours – Blue, White and Red – in the flag of his adopted country, France.
He claimed that they respectively examined the Republic’s enshrined principles of liberty, equality and fraternity – though just how those ideas fit the action isn’t easy to determine.
In Blue, Julie (Juliette Binoche) loses her composer husband and her daughter in a road accident. Her response is to cut herself off completely from her previous life – and from her husband’s music, which, it’s hinted, she may have helped compose. But she soon discovers the past isn’t so readily jettisoned.
White offers a sardonic comedy. Karol (Zbigniew Zamachowski), a Polish hairdresser living in Paris, is thrown out by his French wife (Julie Delpy). Back in Poland, he makes a fortune and plots revenge on her. But is it really what he wants?
Red starts in Geneva, where young model Valentine (Irène Jacob) accidentally injures a dog. Its owner, an embittered, elderly judge (Jean-Louis Trintignant), spends his time spying on his neighbours. A strange intimacy grows up between them.
Though the plots of the three films differ widely, certain incidents and characters link them together. (Red ends with a ferry disaster that serves as a grand final linking device between all three films.)
As for their overall theme, there’s been endless debate. Fate? Chance? Perception? Community? All these and more? Quizzical to the last, Kieslowski leaves us to decide.
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