Monday, June 26, 2006

Trois Couleurs - BLEU

I finished watching two movies (Blue and Red) out of Krzysztof Kieslowski's trilogy Bleu, Blanc, Rouge. I am restricted by the lack of words that I know of or am aware of to write about the work of Kieslowski. It is very difficult to write about the works in words, one has to feel and observe these movies. These movies are around 13 years old but even today it looks fresh. The special features in the DVD helped me in getting more insight into these movies. One can watch these movies innumerable times and will never get bored, infact each time you watch you will see something new in it. Krzysztof Kieslowski's trilogy,
Trois Couleurs: Bleu, Blanc, Rouge offers a trio films that rather doggedly refuse to explain themselves, though on the surface relate three tales of modern French society. The three colors are from the French flag (Blue stands for Liberty, White for Equality and Red for Fraternity), and their stories in some way reflect the meaning of each of the colors.

Blue (France/ 1993) : The first and most difficult of the films is Bleu (Liberty).Blue stands for liberté, or liberty,in the French flag. The luminous Juliette Binoche stars as Julie, whose life is shattered when her famous-composer husband and their daughter are killed in an auto accident. Julie decides to deal with the tragedy by attempting to completely wipe out the period of her marriage from her life, selling their country home, taking back her maiden name and moving into a flat in Paris. But she finds that dismissing the past is harder than she imagined. She is haunting by the symphony her husband had been commissioned to write for the country, and there are hints that he may have been a fraud. There are also hints that the marriage might not have been all it appeared to be on the surface, and when Julie makes a startling discovery about her husband, she finally comes to grips with her own liberty.
In one of the scene midway of the movie we see Julie visit her mother who is in a rest home. She doesn't recognize Julie and is busy watching Television. On television in front of them are images of older people bungee jumping against a soft blue sky. The image of bungee jumpers can be compated to Julie as both are trying to Liberate themselves.
The usage of the color Blue in the entire movie is spellbinding - blue-glass-beads chandelier and the blue light patterns that these glass-beads throw on Julie's face, the blue of the swimming pool, the blue room, the blue-tinged lighting of the outside as seen from Julie's hospital window, will stay with you forever after watching the movie.Kieslowski uses suffering as a means to illustrate the theme of liberation. Julie's periodic swims in the pool (which appears blue at night), completion of her husband's unfinished symphony (with a blue pen), and transfer of their country estate to his mistress (who is expecting a boy) are all symbolic acts of closure. "There is freedom in having nothing. There is also freedom in losing everything".
Julie is a complex character who is generous to a fault at times and yet shockingly cruel, when she leaves the neighbor's cat on a litter of mice that she is scared of. Yet, even at that very moment she feels guilty of her deed. It does not stop her though. The complexity of the character is so real, as real as perhaps me and you and hence easy to identify with. When Julie refuses to be party to a signature campaign against a neighbor whose occupation of a sex-worker shames and irks the other neighbors, a point is made about equality, subtly, without very many dialogues and preaching, yet firmly so. It's further stressed on when Julie finds an unlikely friend in this girl. A sex-worker and her occupation does not make her any less than anyone else. Visually, the movie is beautiful with some stunning close-up shots of Julie's eyes.
Juliette Binoche performance surely enhances this beauty(Kieslowski reportedly didn't want to make the film if he couldn't get her). From the body language one can make out the pain, The corner of her mouth slightly quivers as she traces her daughter's casket through a television set. Her body goes limp when she approaches the doorway of her husband's study. Her gaze turns protective and territorial when a neighbor touches a blue crystal mobile that once hung in her daughter's room.
The film is blessed with gorgeous cinematography by Slawomir Idziak: every frame of this film is a knockout. The intriguing music score and fade-to-black editing provide the film with an interesting sensation.
For a particular scene in the movie where there is a close-up shot of a sugar cube absorbing coffee from a coffee cup and turning brown, kieslowski wanted the sugar cube to become brown within 5 seconds so they tried different sugar cubes and at last took the shot with a sugar cube that become brown within 5 seconds. Need I tell you anything more about this Master Director. I will be writing about the last film of the trilogy (Red) in my next post.


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