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09 October 2005

Three Colors: Blue (1993)

Juliette Binoche (Julie) and Benoît Régent (Olivier)

Directed by Krzysztof Kieslowski

French title: Trois couleurs: Bleu

From IMDB: "First of a trilogy of films dealing with contemporary French society concerns how a composer deals with the death of her husband and child."

I have seen this film before, but it was eight years ago. I remembered NOTHING about it, other than I had seen it with Keven and my best girlfriend, Karen. Keven at least remembered the opening, in which a car crash takes place and Julie suffers the loss of her husband and five-year-old daughter. Cheery!

While some reviews seem to think of this as a mystery, as Julie sorts through the remnants of her old life and dis- covers new elements of her late husband's existence, I saw it as a journey. Certainly, there were unanswered questions - who wrote the music, would it be discovered again, was there another woman in his life - but these are the simple questions that drive any story.

Instead, I saw the film as a woman’s struggle to cope with extreme grief. It was as simple and pure as that. Her reactions, her desire for destruction and solitude, were symptoms and outgrowths of the love and life she lost - systemic, universal reactions to bereavement. But the attempt to reclaim life from such a tragedy is also a deep human instinct. Julie could not commit suicide, even when her pain was at its freshest and most intense. She could not hide herself from other people forever. She tried, but the drive to live again was stronger than her grief.

A street musician told Julie that you have to hold on to something, and ultimately she found many things to keep and bring with her into her new existence: a crystal lamp from her daughter's room (the material), a friend-turned- lover (the emotional), her generosity even in the face of her husband's infidelity (the individual), and her adoration of music (the spiritual).

Interesting new acquaintances peppered moments of cinematic solitude and gorgeous emoting, but the film is an homage to Binoche's expressive, readable face. It was deliberate, languorous, and psychological, and I am curious if more than the just subject matter changes for the other two Three Colors films - will the director change the mode of storytelling as well? The tone? The color? I'll try another in a few weeks, to satisfy my curiosity.

Blogger Keven said...

I think he'll change the color.

This is one of those movies that 95% of the population would see as depressing, but 5% would think was actually really uplifting.

Anonymous Pacze Moj said...

I heartily recommend you do check out Kieslowski's other two "colour" films: 'White' and 'Red'.

The tone changes a bunch. 'White' is the comedy of the trilogy (and a neat political satire), and 'Red' the most thought-provoking. 'Blue' is the worst of the three, in my 'umble opinion.

But, as a heads up, 'White' is largely in Polish, not French -- which, judging from your 'Pelleas et Melisande' review-post, I assume you know -- so you get so-so subtitles.

Blogger carrie_lofty said...

I've got White checked out and waiting for a free moment. But I don't know French ;) I'm just handy with a translated libretto!


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