THREE COLORS TRILOGY
Review by Ed Nguyen
Technical specs by Michael Jacobson
small nation of Poland may seem an unusual country to produce one of cinema's
modern masters. And yet, over the
last quarter of the twentieth-century, it was home to one of Europe's finest
film directors ever. His name?
Krzysztof Kieslowski (that's CHEES-TOFF KEYS-LOSS-KEE).
Kieslowski's name may be unwieldy and generally unfamiliar to western
audiences, but his best films transcend all language and politics.
Sweden's well-regarded Ingmar Bergman, Kieslowski was an actor's director.
He was interested in exploring the complexities and subtleties of human
relationships. Though meticulous in his preparations and direction, he
nonetheless often allowed his actors' performances to serve as the emotional
heart of his films. Kieslowski
shunned intrusive action or unnecessary dialogue.
As a result, many of his films possessed an East European and decidedly
un-Hollywood flavour. They were
exquisitely crafted and deliberately-paced, focusing upon the minutiae of life
that defined the characters and their actions.
Kieslowski often wove evocative dream-states around simple tales,
creating worlds that felt real and yet existed not entirely within the conscious
realm. La Double vie de Veronique is a good example of one such film.
But of his numerous other works, the one most recognized by western
audiences today is his final masterpiece - Trois
Couleurs (the Three Colors Trilogy).
Kieslowski started his directorial career making documentaries.
It was not until 1976 that he directed his first full-length feature (Blizna).
The film won first prize at the Moscow Film Festival and helped to
establish Kieslowski as a leader in the cinema of moral
anxiety. This Polish film movement included a number of other
prominent directors, such as Andrzej Wajda and Agnieszka Holland, and its
objective was to use the language of film to subtly depict Polish oppression
under communism. Ironically,
Kieslowski was never interested in the Cold War dynamics of the real world and
sought to avoid political agendas in all his films.
Though the political atmosphere of the day constrained Kieslowski's
talents initially, the eventual collapse of communism in Poland freed Kieslowski
to experiment cinematically. His
subsequent films can be included among the best of the contemporary European
crowning achievement in the 1980's was the mini-series, Dekalog. A ten-hour
film whose segments drew thematic inspiration from the Ten Commandments, Dekalog
was a tremendous artistic triumph. Kieslowski's
1991 follow-up, La Double vie de Veronique,
brought him further international acclaim.
The film was a surreal meditation on identity and awareness and featured
a luminous Irene Jacob. It was in
many ways a test-run for Trois Couleurs.
Perhaps encouraged by the enthusiastic reception for La
Double vie de Veronique, Kieslowski announced that his next ambitious
project would be a trilogy of films. These
films would expound upon the ideals symbolized by the three colors of the French
flag. The first film, Bleu (Blue), would represent liberty. The second film, Blanc
(White), would represent equality. The
last film, Rouge (Red), would
represent fraternity and would provide a common link to the three films in its
conclusion. While separately the
films would be different in tone, together, they would form a Magnus Opus - Trois
Superficially, the stories of Trois Couleurs might appear simple and straight-forward. Surely, hasn't Hollywood made these sorts of films countless times? However, there is a certain magic in Kieslowski's understated yet confident direction that almost no Hollywood director could ever hope to duplicate. His films, much like those of Ozu or Truffaut, have a surface simplicity that only belie their countless layers of depth. It is an immeasurable quality that only the greatest directors possess - a seemingly effortless ability to infuse incredible artistry and beauty into even the most basic of stories.
Juliette Binoche, Benoit Regent, Florence Pernel, Charlotte Very, Hugues Quester
Director: Krzysztof Kieslowski
Audio: DTS Stereo 2.0
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen, 1.85:1, color
Features: Look below!
Length: 98 minutes
Release Date: November 15, 2011
like to meet you. It's important."
the first film, revolves around Julie (Binoche), the wife of a prominent French
composer. She is a kind and
generous woman, one who is satisfied to live in the shadow of her famous
husband. However, a tragedy strikes
early in the film that irreparably changes her.
A horrific automobile accident deprives Julie of her husband and young
daughter. Julie survives the
accident, but she has been left an embittered woman.
Early on, she contemplates suicide, engulfing an entire bottle of pills.
But, she cannot bring herself to swallow and so spits out the pills,
telling the nurse who arrives on the scene, "I can't...I'm unable to."
Shortly before her departure from a convalescence home, she is accosted
by an insensitive reporter. When
the reporter expresses surprise at Julie's rudeness to her,
Julie murmurs, "Haven't you heard?
I had an accident. I lost my daughter and my husband."
in a sense, has become paralyzed. She
is unable or unwilling to interact socially, and she gradually withdraws from
all pleasure or friendship. She
asks her lawyer to sell her family possessions, and she destroys the transcript
of her husband's last unfinished concerto.
The concerto was to have been played during the Unification of
ceremonies. Music that once filled
her life is now exiled; Julie has chosen instead a refuge in silence.
Her only keepsake from her family is a chandelier with blue mobiles, once
the light for her daughter's room.
abandons the family's country manor for a smaller apartment.
She does not make these changes, as some divorced people do for
income tax or financial purposes, but
because she is shunning society. She reverts back to her maiden name.
When asked her occupation, she replies, "Nothing.
Nothing at all." Julie
has chosen to deny every facet of her past, and in refusing to confront the
realities of her life, she has trapped herself within an apathetic prison of her
own design. There are hints in the
many empty days that ensue that she has not entirely shunned all feelings - her
tears of regret over borrowing a neighbor's cat to kill a mouse and its helpless
newborn; her anguish over a former friend's attempt to resurrect the Unification
concerto. But such emotions are
mere shadows; Julie is no longer the warm and generous woman she once was.
Her salvation, if at all, will be a difficult and heart-breaking one.
are numerous sequences of an almost ethereal quality in Blue. The film's start
is an abstract example - an opening shot on a mysterious blue motion.
The camera slowly pulls back to reveal that it is a rapidly spinning
wheel of a car, silhouetted in twilight as it passes from darkness through lit
tunnels and out again. Inside the car, we see a young girl, surrounded by an aura of
red lights - they are the reflection of traffic rushing by.
A reverse angle displays a dazzlingly kaleidoscopic view of headlight
glares, the girl's subjective view of the traffic.
While breath-taking, the shots are somehow ominous and foreboding.
Within one minute, Kieslowski's amazing cinematography intrigues us and
foreshadows the tone of the film to follow.
Many other scenes in the film communicate solely through imagery or music
without dialogue. There is a lovely
yet melancholy scene in which Julie examines her daughter's chandelier, its
decorative baubles swaying slowly and casting traces of blue light upon her
visage. In another scene, Julie
focuses upon her husband's musical transcript; as she silently reads the music,
so we hear it. The musical
notations soon end. Still, Julie
continues to read the blank pages and we hear new, unwritten bars of music,
music that has just been freshly composed in Julie's mind.
The scene has no dialogue but communicates a telling aspect of Julie's
is filled with many such similar scenes. Often,
Kieslowski chooses to show random glimpses of Julie's current activities -
swimming by night in a dark blue pool room, re-arranging furniture in her
apartment, drinking coffee at a local tavern.
Julie ignores the world around her and concentrates upon insignificant
objects - a rustling feather, a dissolving sugar cube, a spoon in motion.
Kieslowski does not spell out the film's narrative flow; he has faith in
his audience's intelligence. Instead,
he has provided the scenes obliquely as pieces of an interlocking puzzle.
He trusts in his mise-en-scène and his actors' expressions and body
language to convey a certain mood or impression. Taken as a whole, the scenes indirectly reveal the nature of
Julie's broken spirit. This is bold
and truly effective film-making, the likes of which only confident directors
studies often suggest five stages in the process of death.
First comes denial, followed by anger, bargaining, depression, and
finally acceptance. Julie may have physically survived her accident, but she is
not truly alive. And she may remain
dead to the world until she is willing to confront her continual existence,
rather than emotionally running away.
film ultimately does not conclude with Julie's re-emergence as a cheerful,
carefree woman. Kieslowski does not
deal out such tidy, maudlin endings. The
reality of Julie's situation means that she will never again be the same.
And yet, she has made various decisions by the film's conclusion that
suggest that she has begun the process of returning.
The entire film, in one sense, can be considered as just a prelude to the
real story to come. Julie has a
long, uncertain path yet ahead of her, but there is now hope that she might
liberate herself from her emotional isolation and in doing so, begin to live
Zbigniew Zamachowski, Julie Delpy, Janusz Gajos, Jerzy Stuhr , 2011
Director: Krzysztof Kieslowski
Audio: DTS Stereo 2.0
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen, 1.85:1, color
Features: Woah, just see below!
Length: 92 minutes
Release Date: November 15
I say I love you, you don't understand. If
I say I hate you, you still don't understand.
You don't understand that I need you, that I want you.
Do you understand?"
Kieslowski, a graduate of the famed Lodz Film Academy, achieved wide
international recognition with the Cannes premiere of his 1991 film La
Double vie de Veronique. A
film enthusiast at heart, he wasted little time in preparing treatments for his
new French project - Trois Couleurs. Blue
would be the first film completed for the trilogy, but even before he was
finished with it, Kieslowski began filming White.
During various stages of White's
production, Kieslowski would spend time either editing Blue
or completing the script for Red.
He was sometimes too focused upon his craft - an incident early in Blue's
production, when he worked for 24 hours straight, exhausted his crew and
rendered them entirely useless the following day. Then again, this should come as no surprise for a director
who once completed, in the span of a year, a documentary, two feature-length
films, and one 10-hour film! Despite
his overwhelmingly workaholic love for film-making, Kieslowski was uniformly
beloved by all his crew and cast. Editor
Jacques Witta, when asked if he wanted to work with Kieslowski on his Trois
Couleurs, replied, "400%."
amazing work ethics continued during filming of Trois Couleurs. His aim
was to release Blue in 1993 for the
Venice Film Festival and White later
the same year in Berlin. Kieslowski
accomplished his goal, an amazingly proficient task for a director who did not
even speak French. Blue swept a huge number of awards, and White earned him the Best Director Award at the Berlin Film
is the lightest in tone of the three films.
It is a tale about a hapless man named Karol (Zamachowski).
He is a little Polish barber, upbeat yet goofy.
He wears a perpetual look of confounded naiveté on his face.
He is pretty much a lovable loser, the proverbial fish out of water. His exasperated French wife, Dominique (Delpy), certainly
thought so, for she has most unceremoniously dumped him out onto the Parisian
streets after their annulment. Sought
by the police after Dominique frames him for arson, penniless after a bank
employee nonchalantly cuts up his credit card, Karol is simply not having a good
day. He ends up hobo-ing it around
the Parisian metros.
his string of luck, all bad, Karol still loves Dominique.
One day, he calls her up, only to have her answer during a passionate
encounter with another man. Perhaps
it is the inciting incident for his hero cycle.
Something snaps in Karol. The
call instills in Karol a sense of purpose, for he determines thereafter to show
to Dominique that he is not a loser. He
is not a toss-away, little barber but her equal!
He resolves to earn her respect even if it means sneaking out of Paris
back home to Poland in a suitcase.
new odyssey begins badly. Arriving
in Poland, he is beaten by hoodlums. When
they discover that his wallet contains one lousy coin, which Karol nonetheless
attempts to retrieve, they toss him and the coin aside and depart in disgust.
As he lies face-down in the dirt, Karol looks up and flashes an
optimistic smile. "Home at last," he says. The shot is a simple one yet it defines his character.
His net worth may be a mere two francs, but Karol still has his
indomitable spirit. We begin to
understand implicitly that, no matter what the obstacles, he will somehow
eventually re-build his life and perhaps find a way back into Dominique's good
the somber mood of Blue, White
feels downright cheerful. It is not
a typical comedy, however, even if it is somewhat fanciful and comic in tone.
White is very much akin in
spirit to the "comedies" of Louis Malle (My Dinner with Andre, Vanya on
42nd Street). There are no
actually hilarious moments, though the situations that arise are often amusing
in a real but touching way. White
is a celebration of the bittersweet ironies of being human.
The attainment of love is often fraught with pain, and sometimes, life
does not begin until after a symbolic death.
Not just a comedy, White is
almost at times an upside-down love story.
plot takes several liberties with cross-cutting chronology and even with
believability. As the film
progresses, we become increasingly less certain of whether the images that
Kieslowski offers represent past, present, or future.
Some scenes exist as flashbacks, though it is unclear as to whether they
are Karol's or Dominique's. The
ambiguity strengthens the invisible bond between both characters, suggesting
that despite their current separation, their lives are inevitably intertwined.
Some scenes seem to exist in a normal world, while others have such a
surreal reality that we wonder if they exist beyond Karol's imagination or
hopes. How else to rationalize the oddness of Karol's sudden success
or Dominique's final predicament?
key scene occurs near the film's mid-point after Karol comes into a great deal
of money. I will not reveal how he
acquires this money, but he now has the means to resurrect his life.
One minute, he is a dirt-poor barber; the next minute, he has a chauffeur
and wears a very smart suit. Of
course, a year has passed and while the film offers some hints to this effect,
it is easy to overlook, especially given the wavering chronology.
The relative speed of Karol's subsequent business success may also bear a
ring of implausibility if one is not aware of Poland's actual economic situation
during the time of filming. Poland
had just recently been liberated from communism.
The newborn and inexperienced capitalistic society, especially in Warsaw,
the setting for Karol's home, provided enormous potential for growth and rapid
wealth through international trade...for someone with the proper drive and
motivation. Karol, for his part, is
utterly driven by an unwithering desire to make something of himself, to regain
his dignity and to prove to Dominique that he is deserving of her.
in the midst of these scenes that document Karol's rise, there is another scene.
It is a night-time scene, and Karol, looking disheveled and wearing
simple clothing, awakens from his sleep. He
does not appear very confident or prosperous.
He is, in fact, tearful and decides to call Dominique again. In the foreground, we see an alabaster bust.
It is the very likeness of his beloved Dominique.
It is in fact the only other possession he brought back with him to
Poland. There is a poignant scene
early in the film in which he repairs a break in the bust and later, in
silhouette, kisses it. Now, he calls the real Dominique and begs her to speak so he
may hear her voice. She promptly
hangs up, at which point the scene fades to black.
In the very next scene, we see a confident, smartly-attired Karol once
more, formulating a plan to bring Dominique to him.
could interpret this sequence several ways.
Everything could be simply part of Karol's reality - he really is
wealthy and powerful and his phone call motivates him to use his new wealth to
bring Dominique to him. Or,
everything could be a part of Karol's dream, with only the night scene as
reality. The real Karol could be a
lonely, poor barber who still fantasizes about the woman who abandoned him; the
dream Karol could be this wealthy, powerful man who can win back his love.
On the surface, Kieslowski's narrative seems straight-forward enough, but
it leaves room for interpretation.
the film's end, an encounter between Karol and Dominique continues this
ambiguous tone. The scene has a
strange familiarity about it. Have
we seen it before? Yes - very brief
portions were played earlier in the film. What,
then, is reality? What is fantasy?
What is real-time and what is the past?
Furthermore, throughout the film, happy scenes from Karol's wedding are
glimpsed. Are they merely Karol's
repetitive memories, or do they serve to imply a future re-conciliation between
Karol and Dominique?
may be an ironic comedy but it conceals many labyrinthine meanings.
As with all of Kieslowski's films, it is a film that improves with every
subsequent re-viewing, slowly revealing its secrets. The film's construction, though unorthodox, is ultimately
brilliant. The Berlin Film Festival
chose wisely in rewarding Kieslowski with a well-deserved Best Director award
Irene Jacob, Jean-Louis Trintignant, Frederique Feder, Jean-Pierre Lorit
Director: Krzysztof Kieslowski
Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen, 1.85:1, color
Features: Golly, just read below!
Length: 99 minutes
Release Date: March 4, 2003
I dreamt...I dreamt of you. You
were forty or fifty years old, and you were happy."
your dreams come true?"
been years since I dreamt something nice."
(Red), as the finale for Trois
Couleurs, coalesces the three films together. It is considered Kieslowski's finest film and earned him an
Academy Award nomination for Best Director.
photography for Trois Couleurs started
around September, 1992. Red's
shoot ended in late spring 1993, concluding an arduous nine months of
production. Annette Insdorf, a long-time friend and translator for
Kieslowski, at one point during filming remarked to Kieslowski that he was
killing himself from overwork. Many
nights, he was lucky to get two hours of sleep. His reply was a simple shrug.
The work continued.
on Red initially yielded some twenty
versions of the film. Kieslowski
considered film as a breathing, fluctuating entity and often liked to experiment
with different versions of his films to emphasize different scenes (Kieslowski
once wanted to release seventeen different versions of La
Double vie de Veronique simultaneously!).
At any rate, Red is my personal
favorite. Kieslowski's romantic
direction is leisurely yet masterful as it explores an unusual relationship that
develops between a younger woman, Valentine, and an older, retired man.
Jacob, as Valentine, is beyond beautiful. Anyone
who has seen her mesmerizing performance in La Double vie de Veronique will be equally entranced by her in Red.
Valentine is a young fashion model.
She lives in Geneva, and though she is a kind and warm-hearted person,
she is lonely. Her boyfriend is
away and never seen. His occasional
phone calls reveal him to be a jealous and callous type. One day, as Valentine is driving home, she inadvertently
strikes a runaway dog. She nurses
the injured dog back to health and traces ownership back to an elderly man.
He is retired, having retreated into the darkened shell of his large
home. He lives in solitude, alone
with the memories of past regrets and decisions.
To pass the time, he confesses to eavesdropping on the private telephone
conversations of his neighbors from his radio.
Valentine is at first repulsed by this voyeuristic obsession, but she
gradually learns that the man, beneath his crusted exterior, was once a
good-hearted judge. For his part, the judge is affected by his encounters with
Valentine and begins to change his life, though not without some consequences.
is not a typical romantic tale. For
one, Valentine's relationship with the judge is platonic.
They never embrace or kiss.
Nonetheless, the judge becomes her closest friend and, to some degree,
her emotional guide. His relationship with the young Valentine is closer and
warmer than Valentine's with her unseen boyfriend.
Her conversations with the boyfriend are harsh and abrupt; her
conversations with the judge are quiet and
intimate. She invites the
judge, not her boyfriend, to her latest fashion show.
The judge is the final person she visits before a fateful voyage abroad.
In truth, the judge and Valentine are soulmates.
Perhaps in a different setting or a younger age, they may have fallen in
love, as even the judge recognizes: "Maybe you're the woman I never
final scene together is a melancholy one. The
judge has entered his car, and before driving off, places his palm against the
window. Valentine, standing outside
the car, responds by placing her palm against the window as well.
The glass bars them, a symbol of the barriers that separate them.
They can only exchange smiles before the judge slowly departs.
uses an intensely vivid cinematographic style to reflect the often undeclared
emotions of its characters. The
color red can express many emotions - passion, anger, or warmth, to name a few.
The film has an understated, passionate story, and so the red tonal
quality of the film is diffusely present throughout.
Valentine's very name calls to mind the color; indeed, she has a friendly
personality and quietly desires someone to truly love and who will return her
love. Her scenes are often lit with a soft golden-red glow, as
expressed in the red theater that houses her fashion show or her sunset visits
to the judge's home. The judge's
home, with its dark wood paneling and furniture, has a somber red-brown hue,
symbolic of the judge's suppressed or exhausted passion. In direct contrast, there is a sub-plot that follows Auguste,
a young Swiss citizen. Unlike the
judge, he is full of energy, whisking about in a bright-red jeep while
cultivating a stormy, fluctuating relationship with his girlfriend.
there is the famous profile of Valentine. It
is the same portrait that was used extensively for the film's actual promotion.
Valentine, in the shot, glances sadly off to a side while silhouetted in
the background by a gently blowing red curtain.
It is a mysterious shot, but a poignant one, almost an expression of
Valentine's own internal desires. In
the film, we initially see the expanded portrait on a billboard through
Auguste's eyes as he waits by a red traffic light.
Auguste, in fact, is perhaps not coincidentally also a young judge, and
as the film progresses, his life experiences seem to mirror those of the older
judge. While Auguste and Valentine
never directly cross paths, we sense a certain connection between the two
characters. Perhaps then, the color
red has another meaning for the film - perhaps it is an indication of destiny,
of the connection and inevitable pairing of two people even across the barrier
of time or circumstances.
theme of second chances echoes in all three films of Trois Couleurs. Coupled
with the theme of death, the suggestion of rebirth is an important one and
creates a sense of renewal in the films. Julie,
in Blue, provides the first signs at
the film's conclusion that she will overcome her grief at her family tragedy.
Blue's concerto is a symbolic celebration of this new beginning, for
it too celebrates a birth - the creation of a new Europe.
Karol, in White, starts out as almost a child - innocent and helpless in face
of his plights, he must slowly learn to live again. Even his changed homeland of Poland is in its infancy, having
only just arisen from the ashes of its communist past.
In this new setting, Karol hopes to re-establish the foundations of his
love for Dominique, his former wife. In
Red, the very name of Valentine itself
is a child's name, personally chosen by Irene Jacob for the memories it evoked
in her of her own childhood. Valentine
has requested from the judge the gift of a young puppy, borne of the dog she
rescued earlier in the film. Equally
as important, the judge's experiences are reflected in Auguste, a symbolic
reflection of the judge himself as a younger man.
Their lives are the same, yet where the judge had failed in love, perhaps
the younger man will succeed. There
is a premonition of fate in Red, of
destiny bridging the gap between ages, beginning life anew for Valentine and a
as well, is often an inciting event for change in the three films.
Death is the critical event that so drastically alters Julie in Blue
and so prevalently haunts her throughout much of the film.
In White, Karol and a friend
both receive a symbolic death that reveals the similarities in their lives and
gradually transforms the paths of their lives for the better.
In Red, death exists in an abstract manner, showing the emptiness of
Valentine's and the judge's lives as well as being the final force that unites
the main characters of Trois Couleurs
in the end. Kieslowski has admitted
that death as a dramatic impulse appealed greatly to him, and he used it
frequently in his films, subtly changing its relevance to the plot in film to
re-occurrence of characters in Trois
Couleurs is a trend from his previous films and also serves to unite Red
with its sister films. Alert
viewers may have caught a glimpse of Juliette Binoche early in White.
Likewise, Julie Delpy appears near the end of Blue. Both characters will re-appear in Red's conclusion. Furthermore,
all three films include a scene with an elderly person struggling to insert a
bottle into a recycling bin. In Blue, Binoche's
Julie is completely indifferent to the woman; her eyes are closed and she is
distant and far away. In White,
the sad sap Karol watches with an amused smile but does nothing to help; perhaps
it comforts him that he has company in his woes.
In Red, Valentine notices the
woman's struggles and walks over to assist her.
The different manners in which all three approach the same situation help
to define their characters.
three films conclude in a similar manner. They
offer a sense of real hope, with the emotional liberation and transformation
that hope brings. We see the face
of a character in close-up. The
camera holds the frame for a long time as slowly, a tear rolls down the
character's face, and the brief hint of a smile appears before the picture fades
to black. In Blue, this character is Julie as she ponders her future.
In White, it is Karol, looking
up with adoration upon his beloved Dominique.
In Red, it is the judge,
looking past a cracked window in the aftermath of a destructive storm.
But the final image of the trilogy belongs to Valentine, profiled against
a deep magenta sky as she gazes into the distance.
The camera focuses in, stopping as a red backdrop suddenly appears behind
her. It is very reminiscent her
portrait from earlier in Red, but now,
it is a vital and living image, not merely a static one. Valentine, like Julie and Karol equally before her, has
weathered life's uncertainties. For
all their differences, these characters are united by their experiences.
Their lives are a continual process - a search for freedom, for
understanding, or for companionship. They
are fundamentally similar. Red,
in revealing their common destiny, is a fitting conclusion to Trois
theatrically in 1994, Red was
Kieslowski's last film. It
completed an extraordinary cinematic legacy the likes of which have rarely been
equaled. With Trois Couleurs, Kieslowski's greatness as a director was forever
established. Sadly, Kieslowski did
not live long after completion of Red.
In 1996, he died from complications of open-heart surgery.
The premature death of Europe's finest modern director was a tragic loss
in the cinematic world. In tribute,
Kieslowski's wake in Warsaw was accompanied by Blue's
He was only 54 years old.
It's hard for me to believe, but apparently, some critics scoffed at Kieslowski's use of color in these films. Each one is filtered to amplify the color of the title, and from my perspective, the results are quite striking a beautiful. The blues add a visceral sense of sorrows, the whites a natural feel as though we were seeing it all from God's perspective, and the reds invoke passion and emotion. Criterion's Blu-ray offering keeps all of Kieslowski's exact vision intact, with clarity and vividness. Each film looks great, and progressively improves. Red is truly a vision to behold.
You might think these audio tracks have a couple of strikes against them from the start...they represent the original stereo sound, and the films are largely dialogue-oriented. But don't despair...with the use of music to enhance the drama, these discs offer terrific listening experiences. There is some dynamic range, but better still, a clear sense of balance to the mixes. They offer the sounds of life.
It wouldn't be a Criterion offering without some wonderful supplements, and this three disc set packs plenty of good ones. Each disc contains a cinema lesson from Kieslowski himself, analyzing some part of his film and offering his thoughts on their construction and purpose.
Blue has a new video essay by biographer Annette Insdorf, as well as a new interview with the film's composer (a treat, since the music is a vital part of the story). There is also select-scene commentary from Juliette Binoche, and a documentary "Reflections on Blue", featuring analysis from critics, filmmakers and cinematographers. There are two early shorts from Kieslowski, one he made, and one he starred in. Rounding out is the original trailer.
White offers a video essay by critic Tony Rayns and two new interviews; one with co-writer Krzystof Piesiewicz and one with stars Zbigniew Zamachowski and Julie Delpy. There is a short documentary on the making of the film, as well as two documentaries by Kieslowski and the original trailer.
Red brings the set full circle, featuring a video essay by film writer Dennis Lim. There is a brand new interview with actress Irene Jacob, plus interviews with producer Marin Karmitz and editor Jacques Witta. There is some behind-the-scenes footage, a look at the film's premiere at Cannes, and a film made about Kieslowski shortly before his death. It begins with various professionals...a priest, a doctor, a psychiatrist...offering their opinions of the man, but then the film settles into letting the man speak for himself. The trailer concludes the extras.
Lastly, Criterion offers one of their best booklets of the year, featuring essays, reprinted interviews, and even an excerpt from Kieslowski on Kieslowski. This is a wonderful, rich package.
Trois Couleurs Blue/White/Red is Krzysztof Kieslowski's final, poetic masterpiece. Red alone would shame many a Best Picture Oscar recipient. Small wonder that Trois Couleurs as a whole is widely considered one of the greatest cinematic achievements of the entire 1990's. This Criterion Blu-ray set deserves a coveted spot in the home library of any serious film fan. Absolutely the highest recommendations!