On the DVD: The DVD set has numerous extras spread throughout the three discs; the end result is a superior collection. Each disc has a short retrospective, culled together from new interviews with Kieslowski's crew, plus film critic Geoff Andrew, biographer Annette Insdorf (who also does the commentaries), and fellow Polish director Ageniska Holland. Producer Marin Karmitz also reminisces about the experience. There's an exceptional effort to show the magic of Kieslowski (who died two years after the trilogy) through a discussion of his various career phases, interviews with the three lead actresses, four student films, and archival materials including simple--and wonderful--glimpses of the director at work. Excellent insight is also provided by Dominique Rabourdin's filmed "cinema lessons" with Kieslowski. Without viewing any of his other films, this set illustrates the uniqueness of Kieslowski. --Doug Thomas
The trilogy is a wonderful piece of art. Relating the three colours of the French flag to the mantra of the French Revolution (liberty, equality, fraternity), Kieslowski explores these virtues not as ideals or as morals to be evoked in each of the films, but as values which have largely been swept aside by modern consumerism and the pursuit of self-satisfaction and self-indulgence.
Kieslowski used a different cameraman for each film, used different thematic colours for each (different filters, different colours featuring heavily in each film ,etc.), and constructs three films which have radically different moods and feels to them. (Please see my individual reviews for greater detail.)
Juliette Binoche dominates "Blue", totally, in an acting tour de force which sweeps you off your seat. Zbigniew Zamachowski gives a witty performance in "White" (the weakest of the trilogy), with Julie Delpy playing a supporting role. And in "Red", the honours are shared between Irene Jacob and Jean-Louis Trentignant. Kieslowski can thus change the internal dynamics of the film to suit his needs - he nowhere relies on conventional male/female leads. Rather he deconstructs the relationships of his leading actors and uses these to emphasise the themes of each film.
It was a brave move to shoot all three films so quickly (they overlapped in shooting) and in pursuit of such a tight schedule. Though the characters are ultimately linked, and incidentally cross one another's paths beforehand, Kieslowski does not attempt to create a single character or group whose story we can follow across the three films. The unity is in the thematic link.
The trilogy works because of the quality of the ensemble Kieslowski uses. Acting, photography, lighting, editing, and direction are superb, although so very different across the three parts. The stories are enigmatically scripted - "White" is, as a film, possibly the weakest of the three, but its storyline is perhaps the one which most intrigues you, the one which is most likely to have you playing 'what happens next?'
This is cerebral cinema at its very best. This is cinema which can cross cultures and explore universal themes. This is liberating cinema, cinema you can sit back and think abut at length. The themes are painted before you, but you are equal to the director and actors in your ability to read into them your own understanding. And it's an understanding you can enjoy, but which is best shared in discussion with others: these are films to be watched together with friends and loved ones ... then argued about late into the next day over a few beers or glasses of wine. This is cinema to treasure.
The three DVD's in the trilogy are each supplemented by extras in the form of master classes by Kieslowski and interviews with the leading actresses - curiously Julie Delpy, not Zbigniew Zamachowski, is given prominence in "White". And the package contains a fourth DVD, "I'm So-So" - a long interview with Kieslowski in which we can see his interplay with his ensemble of cameramen and technicians. Overall, a superb package which no cinema buff should miss.
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