Learn more Download now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Learn More Shop now Shop now Learn more Shop Fire Shop Kindle New Album - Noel Gallagher Learn more Shop Women's Shop Men's

Customer reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
48
4.5 out of 5 stars
Three Colours Trilogy [DVD]
Format: DVD|Change
Price:£13.99+ Free shipping with Amazon Prime


on 15 July 2017
Good quality dvd.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 11 March 2017
Having seen these three films years ago I was pleased to have my own copy to see them again - and they still prove to be excellent./
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 16 February 2009
Brilliant cinema! Three apparently dis-connected films come together at the end end in a very poignant accident at sea. The acting, photography and suspense are brilliant in all three films. For the last film, this was particularly significant for me as I used to travel to and from Germany via the Herald of Free Enterprise which actually sank in the manner described in the film - indeed, the scenes may have been that tragic accident.
0Comment| 2 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 27 February 2004
This is a truly amazing set of DVD's. It collects the famous Kieslovski trilogy "Three Colours Blue, White and Red" in one set (finally).
"Three Colours" is a truly amazing journey. These colours come from the the French flag and embody the revolutionary vision of Freedom, Equality and Brotherhood. This symbolism is brought forward as themes in the movies.
Also, the actual colours feature quite strongly in the films: in "Blue" the character played by Julliette Binoche visits the pool regularly for the purpose of weeping underwater; in "White" you are constantly confronted with the sound of flying pigeons (evoking white), and red features constantly in the third film also.
These DVD's have been available separately for ages now. But the individual DVD's don't have the list of goodies featured in this special edition. I have been drooling over the Region 1 offering at amazon.com for ages now. Also, the pricing on the individual DVD's seem to be much higher than you would have to pay for this set.
The depth of the stories, characters and emotion in these movies are almost unequalled in anything else I have ever seen. It comes highly recommended, and in this special collection format it is an absolute must.
0Comment| 10 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERon 21 February 2012
Around here, red, white and blue are known as the colours of the American flag, and they are also the colours of the French flag. But they also are the names of the late Krzysztof Kieslowski's brilliant "Three Colours" trilogy, which has a delicacy that most directors can only dream of. Beautiful, painful, artfully shot, it's a visual feast for anyone who has an appreciation for beauty, subtlety and filmmaking.

In "Bleu," Julie de Courcy (Juliette Binoche) and her family are in a car accident when their brakes fail, and her husband and daughter are killed. Devastated, she leaves her palatial house in the country after a night with her husband's old friend Olivier (Benoît Régent), who has been in love with her for years. And though Julie tries to leave her old life behind, she is pulled in when Olivier starts to finish her husband's last composition -- and he tells her of a side of her husband that she never knew.

In the bitterly funny "Blanc," hairdresser Karol Karol (Zbigniew Zamachowski) is being coldly divorced by his beautiful wife Dominique (Julie Delpy) because she is sexually dissatisfied with him -- and she takes all his money too. But after returning to Poland, Karol rebuilds his life and fortune, and amid a web of killing, seduction and faked death, he comes up with a way to get back at Dominique...

And "Rouge" is the color of love. On her way home from a modelling session, Valentine (Irene Jacob) accidently injures a pregnant dog. The owner is Joseph Kern, (Jean-Louis Trintignant) an embittered ex-judge whose job has left him spiritually adrift, and who now spends his time wiretapping the phones of his neighbors and predicting what will happen in their lives. The friendship between Valentine and Kern grows, even as a young man's current life mirrors what devastated Kern long ago...

The three colours of the French flag symbolize liberty, equality and fraternity -- and these are echoed in the stories of Kieslowski's films. And each of the three movies has its own "feel" -- "Blue" is cool and sensual, "White" was sharp and sexy, and "Red" has a sweetness and richness that is truly moving.

And while most directors are just boring when they do slow, arty direction, Kieslowski infused his direction with sensual beauty and endless light and colour, like a painting come to life. And he intertwined many symbolic images and lingering threads from one movie to the next, whether it's an old lady recycling bottles or a rather surprising finale for "Red" that brings all three movies' protagonists together.

And he saturated the movies with the colour of their title -- blue is sadness, depth and beauty; white is beautiful and pure, stark and blinding; red is passion and warmth. While this may not have been Kieslowski's intention, the constant presence of these colors (a bridal gown, a swimming pool, and so on) add an extra dimension to the emotions in the story, especially the first.

Juliette Binoche is an extremely good actress, and this movie uses her expressiveness as most movies don't. Zamachowski brings an element of humanity and poignancy to what could have been an idiotic character, and I never felt anything but understanding for this guy. And Irene Jacob brings a sweetness and innocence to her role as Valentine (aptly named, considering the title of the movie she stars in) that is rarely seen in modern movies.

In fact, this trilogy was ripe for a Criterion Collection release, and as usual they're lavishing extras on it -- high-def restorations; improved English subtitles; commentary by Juliette Binoche; interviews with actresses, writers, critics, producers and composers; video essays, a few short films and documentaries by Kieslowski, a feature-length documentary on Kieslowski, and the usual booklet of essays and printed interviews.

Kieslowski was an unusual and extremely talented moviemaker, and his "Three Colors" trilogy -- "Bleu," "Blanc" and "Rouge" -- is an exceptional piece of work. We shall not see his like again.
0Comment| 2 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERon 1 October 2008
For some, red, white and blue are known as the colours of the American flag. For others, they are also the colours of the French flag.

But they also are the names of the late Krzysztof Kieslowski's brilliant "Three Colours" trilogy. This man hasn't gotten the acclaim of more prominent European directors like Tom Tykwer, but his "Three Colors" trilogy has a delicacy that most directors can only dream of. Beautiful, painful, artfully shot, it's a visual feast for anyone who has an appreciation for beauty, subtlety, and good direction.

In "Blue," Julie de Courcy (Juliette Binoche) and her family are in a car accident when their brakes fail. Julie is injured, but her composer husband and their daughter die. She can't bring herself to commit suicide, but neither can she just go home and get over it. So instead she leaves her palatial house in the country after a night with her husband's old friend Olivier (Benoît Régent), who has been in love with her for years.

Julie arrives in Paris with nothing but a blue cut-glass lampshade, takes back her maiden name, rents an apartment, and tries to leave her old life behind. Though she says she doesn't want love or friends (because they are "traps"), she befriends a promiscuous young woman and is pulled back to Olivier when he starts to finish her husband's unfinished work. In turn, Olivier reveals to her the side of her husband she never knew -- the other woman he loved.

"Blanc" is more of a comedy than a tragedy, but there is an element of sadness as well.Hairdresser Karol Karol (Zbigniew Zamachowski) is being coldly divorced by his beautiful wife Dominique (Julie Delpy) because she is sexually dissatisfied with him. She also strips him of his money and possessions, leaving him playing pitiful music at the subways. What's more, she rubs it in his face that she's now having sex with other men.

Things can't get worse, right? Wrong: Karol goes back to Poland and ends up getting beaten up and robbed. Via some not-so-legal methods, Karol builds himself an impressive fortune and becomes determined to get back at his cold, manipulative ex-wife. Amid a web of killing, seduction and faked death, Karol finds the perfect method to bring Dominique down...

And "Rouge" is the color of love. On her way home from a modelling session, Valentine (Irene Jacob) accidently runs over and injures a pregnant dog. The owner is Joseph Kern, (Jean-Louis Trintignant) an embittered, cynical ex-judge whose years of condemnation and acquittal have left him spiritually adrift. He now spends his time alone in his house, wiretapping the phones of his neighbors and predicting what will happen in their lives.

After Valentine expresses disgust at Joseph's activities, he turns himself in to the authorities. Their friendship grows into a bond of differing values and unhappy histories. As Valentine prepares to leave for England, the judge reveals the tragic circumstances of his early life -- a tragedy mirrored by some of the people he has been spying on.

The three colours of the French flag symbolize liberty, equality and fraternity -- and these are echoed in the stories of Kieslowski's films. And each of the three movies has its own "feel" -- "Blue" is cool and sensual, "White" was sharp and sexy, and "Red" has a sweetness and richness that is truly moving.

And while most directors are just boring when they do slow, arty direction, Kieslowski infused his direction with sensual beauty and endless light and colour, like a painting come to life. And he intertwined many symbolic images and lingering threads from one movie to the next, whether it's an old lady recycling bottles or a rather surprising finale for "Red" that brings all three movies' protagonists together.

And he saturated the movies with the colour of their title -- blue is sadness, depth and beauty; white is beautiful and pure, stark and blinding; red is passion and warmth. While this may not have been Kieslowski's intention, the constant presence of these colors (a bridal gown, a swimming pool, and so on) add an extra dimension to the emotions in the story, especially the first.

Juliette Binoche is an extremely good actress, and this movie uses her expressiveness as most movies don't. Zamachowski brings an element of humanity and poignancy to what could have been an idiotic character, and I never felt anything but understanding for this guy. And Irene Jacob brings a sweetness and innocence to her role as Valentine (aptly named, considering the title of the movie she stars in) that is rarely seen in modern movies.

Kieslowski was an unusual and extremely talented moviemaker, and his "Three Colors" trilogy -- "Bleu," "Blanc" and "Rouge" -- is an exceptional piece of work. We shall not see his like again.
0Comment| 2 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 3 June 2016
Krzysztof Kieślowski’s magnificent Three Colours Trilogy is one of the outstanding achievements in cinema and deserves to take its place alongside his equally amazing series of TV films based on the Ten Commandments entitled Dekalog. Dekalog came out in 1988 and Three Colours Red in 1994. That means the director made 14 films (16 if we include the Dekalog spin-offs A Short Film About Killing and A Short Film About Love) in 6 years, an extraordinary outburst of high quality artistic creativity unparalleled anywhere else. Not surprisingly perhaps considering Kieślowski’s hectic suicidal working habits (at one point he was editing Blue, shooting White and writing Red at the same time!), within two years the great man was dead.

Actually, the Trilogy is not so much to be set beside Dekalog as to be set after it, as a continuation of that project’s ethical inquiry. Kieślowski’s films changed dramatically when he started to work with Krzysztof Piesiewicz on No End in 1984. Suddenly the tone became metaphysical with a stress on the inner lives of the protagonists concerned and an insistence on asking those fundamental questions about human existence - “What is the true meaning of life? Why get up in the morning? What, in essence, is right and what is wrong? What is a lie and what is truth? What is honesty and what is dishonesty? And what should one’s attitude to life be?” (Kieślowski). It was Piesiewicz who suggested Kieślowski do Dekalog and it was he who also suggested making three films based on the tricolour of the French flag, each colour representing an ideal of the French Revolution – blue for liberty, white for equality and red for fraternity. Piesiewicz’s idea was to make a film where “the commanding dictums of Dekalog are understood in a wider context” (Kieślowski). The director tells Danusia Stok (in the highly recommended book Kieślowski on Kieślowski [Faber]), “Why not try to see how the Ten Commandments function today, what our attitude to them is and how the three words liberty, equality and fraternity function today? – on a very human, intimate and personal plane and not a philosophical let alone a political or social one…The West has implemented these three concepts on a political or social plane, but it’s an entirely different matter on the personal plane. And that’s why we thought of these films.”

All three films of the Trilogy undeniably follow through this examination “on the personal plane” in three gripping and superbly executed human dramas, but politics and society do form the back-drop to everything we see. Most obviously the Trilogy is a response to (and an expression of) the unification of Europe following the collapse of Communism in 1989. Blue is set in Western Europe, White is set mainly in Eastern Europe, and Red is set in politically (and historically) neutral Switzerland, the home of international law which legislates for a whole continent. Taken together the films constitute a fundamentally positive celebration of the unification of Europe with all the key protagonists negotiating a way out of their various personal impasses to face up to a bright and positive future. This really was as Europe stood at the end of the 20th century before the darkness set in with 9/11.

It might seem portentous (as well as an example of cynical commercial expediency) to make a trilogy of films based on abstract ideals connected with a country’s flag (the very country that provides the finance), but there’s no denying the fact that the French Revolution was a defining event in European history which saw the birth of modern society as we know it, and the concepts of liberty, equality and fraternity have endured down the years as very potent ideals which we all live with whether we consciously realize it or not. Kieślowski and Piesiewicz couldn’t have picked a better symbol really for describing Europe at this critical juncture after the collapse of Communism and it is very interesting how they have approached an understanding of the ideals in each film. They do so by exploring them as contradictions. Blue (liberty) presents the impossibility of any one person ever being absolutely free as the heroine Julie (Juliette Binoche) makes a bid for absolute freedom by cutting everybody and everything off following the loss of her husband and daughter in a car crash, but is reigned back by fear, past memories, other people who won’t leave her alone and by jealousy. White (equality) posits the truism that actually nobody wants to be equal. They simply want to be more equal. Karol (Zbigniew Zamachowski) approaches self-redemption by seeking equality with his wife Dominique (Julie Delpy) to find he succeeds only at being ‘more equal.’ Red (fraternity) is concerned centrally with the impossibility of any one person being self-less. We only help and get along with others in order to help and get along with ourselves. The model Valentine (Irène Jacob) helps a sick dog and drags its misanthropic owner back to humanity in order to make up for the desire to help her drug addict brother and establish a father figure she does not have. At the same time this misanthropic owner – the omniscient retired judge Joseph Kern (Jean Louis Trintignant) – ‘plays [the Old Testament] God’ to the people living around him. He ‘helps’ others as a means of helping Himself.

Following the pattern of Dekalog Kieślowski chose a different lighting cameraman for each of his films. Sławomir Idziak (who had shot Dekalog 5 and The Double Life of Véronique) shot Blue, Edward Kłosiński (Dekalog 2) shot White, and Piotr Sobociński (Dekalog 3 and 9) shot Red. Each cinematographer was instructed to feature their respective colour strongly in their work to emphasize the focus on each respective ideal. This is done not so much through the use of filters, but more by the placement of objects and use of locations with the requisite colour prominently displayed. Apart from giving each film a unique feeling, what is interesting is the way red, white and blue are combined throughout all three films.

Blue is very ‘blue’, but there is barely a shot which doesn’t also feature white and red as well. In a swimming pool scene which starts completely blue a group of kids run in dressed in white swimsuits with red floats on their arms. Of course Blue is set wholly in France, the land of liberty, equality and fraternity and in the story we see all three ideals and their colours mixing together. We are encouraged to speculate on the way each one is integrated into the central story. True, Julie seeks for absolute liberty in her neurasthenic behavior, but equality is also suggested by her extremely generous charity and her refusal to put herself either above or below any of the people around her. Fraternity is suggested by a world which stubbornly clings on to her despite all her attempts to cut herself away. She wants to be like a sky diver plunging through life unattached to anything, but the film shows images which highlight the restraints binding her to humanity more and more – the strings holding her blue mobile ornament from the ceiling, the rope holding the bungee jumpers we see on TV, and the lines of music notation which tie her to her past and cry out to be completed. The score (a Concerto for the Unification of Europe) left by her dead composer-husband comes together as a harmony of different chords, which echoes the harmony of the various people she meets who drag her back to the fraternity of the human race. The film’s concluding montage is on one level a statement of all three ideals (fraternity above the other two perhaps) as we ‘hear’ a Europe unite through love which translates in the context of the film as the surrender of liberty.

White is very ‘white’ with both blue and red relegated to minor but fascinating roles. Indeed, to highlight the whiteness (Karol’s obsession with seeking ‘equality’ with Dominique) black is accentuated both visually and in the script which works as a dead pan black comedy. Karol begins the film crushed, impotent, penniless and dispossessed on the streets of Paris. In this opening 20 minute section the colour scheme is much the same as Blue with all three colours appearing at the same time. Karol’s loss of liberty is expressed by the loss of his credit card (coloured blue of course). When he and Dominique meet in court both are wearing burgundy red sweaters (they are not divorced yet) and this is echoed later in Poland when the nouveaux riche Karol drives a burgundy red Volvo to express another kind of fraternity with his company and his workers. He reaches absolute rock bottom after he is released from the suitcase in which he has been smuggled back to Poland, only the case has been stolen and he gets beaten up by thieves on a snow-bound rubbish dump which represents his homeland (“Jesus, home at last,” he says). The severe black and white composition (the sky is always white in this film) highlights the inequality which he sets about righting in the film’s middle act. He does so through a combination of self help and the fraternal help of others. His friend Mikolaj (Janusz Gajos) agrees to take him back to Poland and then later provides him with money to start a business. This is subtly expressed through coloured scarves. When Mikolaj offers to help the destitute Karol he is wearing a red scarf (he is offering fraternity), but when he meets Karol later to gain his ‘liberty’, his scarf is blue. Also offering fraternity is Karol’s brother Jurek (Jerzy Stuhr) who initially takes him in after his suitcase ordeal. The neon sign above his barber shop is noticeably both red and white (the fraternity of brothers who are now equal), but the film’s dominant black and white highlights Kieslowski’s concern with the ‘get rich quick’ materialism that swept Poland in the aftermath of the end of Communism, everyone wanting to be more equal than everyone else. The colour white literally blinds us on three occasions – twice on a repetition of a flashback (which could also be a flash-forward) to Karol’s wedding to Dominique where they are ‘equal’ before the Lord and once when Karol finally succeeds in bringing Dominique to orgasm. But this equality is both brief and illusory, the ideal proving to be as impossible to achieve as liberty was in Blue.

Red is of course very ‘red’ and white also plays a prominent part, but blue is entirely omitted, the idea being there is no liberty for these characters trapped into repeating the same narrative cycles over and over again. Here we return to the world of Irène Jacob as encapsulated in The Double Life of Véronique with a highlighting of binary relationships and the doubling of characters, props and events under the auspices of one over-riding creative artist/Godlike doppelgänger figure in retired Judge Joseph Kern. He sees himself in the character of young recently qualified Judge Auguste (Jean-Pierre Lorit) and the lost love of his life (the reason for his misanthropy) first in the character of weather forecaster Karin (Frédérique Feder) and then in Valentine, his ideal partner born 40 years too late. The way all of these characters interact shows a gradual progression from complete isolation from each other at the beginning to eventual complete fraternal bonding at the end, the film’s final denouement shown as being determined by our omniscient Judge Joseph who plays God to a universe in which nobody is free (the absence of blue), everyone is equal under ‘His’ law with white accompanying red throughout. This is seen especially by the huge red poster featuring Valentine modelling chewing gum which when torn down turns out to be white on the reverse side, the red and white Marlboro cigarettes which Auguste smokes and the red and white mise-en-scène of the theatre where Valentine’s final fashion show is staged (red seats, white ceiling). During the crucial conversation between the Judge and Valentine a storm blows up and blinding white light enters through opened doors and billowing curtains. The Judge’s disclosure of his past leads to an equality between two kindred spirits born at the wrong time for each other, and yet there is still time for ‘God’ to engineer a positive outcome for the girl who lives in an apartment above a café which bears His name. But what of His motivations? Does He do good for altruistic reasons, or does He do good simply to make Himself happy? True, the protagonists of all three films are allowed the possibility at least of a bright positive future, but this is engineered at the expense of many lives which evidently lie outside His concern. This is the discriminating Old Testament God here who gives and takes away for no apparent reason so making for an unequal world. True fraternity turns out to be as illusory as true liberty and true equality.

Retired Judge Joseph Kern is the last in a line of omniscient God-like artistic creator doppelgänger narrators in Kieślowski’s films. They all represent a higher power controlling everything we see from above. Other narrators were the dead husband in No End, the ‘young man’ who appears every time a crucial decision has to be made in Dekalog, and the puppeteer who uses/creates the lives of Weronika/Véronique in The Double Life of Véronique. This higher power is wielded by the lawyer-writer Piesiewicz and the director Kieślowski, the Gods of the narrative we see. They voice a thicket of ethical dilemmas centered on the enduring question of how we should all best live our lives. In Blue the dilemma is how should Julie lead her life when every reason for living has been removed? She has no husband or child to take care of and is affluent enough not to need to work or indeed to interact at all with anyone anymore. Why get out of bed every morning? Why live at all? Her rich inheritance including music which she may or may not have part-composed raises questions of what is actually hers. Is it ethical to live a dead person’s life and to complete a dead person’s music? In White the dilemma is how should Karol react to being dispossessed in a foreign land where things are basically unequal, and when he returns to Poland there is a complete lack of ethics in the way people spy, lie and cheat to ‘get rich quick’ in a bid to out-equal each other. Is it ethical that one wrong perpetrated on Karol in a foreign land be cancelled out with another wrong perpetrated by Karol on Dominique as revenge? Do two wrongs make a right and can the protagonists involved ever be happy let alone equal? In Red ethical questions multiply and rebound on all the characters. Ethically, what is the difference between spying on people legally through the power of the law granted to a magistrate, and a Peeping Tom spying on neighbors illegally? Ethically, how good is an act of kindness if by being kind you are mainly helping yourself (as Valentine does through picking up the dog) or even worse, destroying other people’s lives (as she almost does when she approaches a happy family to tell them they are being spied on)? Ethically, is it right that one man (the Judge representing Switzerland, the home of European law) should rule omnipotent and omniscient over everyone (the whole of Europe), deciding who survives and who dies, who prospers and who fails, who is impotent and who is potent, who loses everything and who gains the world? The questions asked by Judge Kern in Red reverberate strongly over all three films in the Trilogy giving it a unity which on casual examination may seem lacking.

It has been suggested that the Trilogy represents the world as it is seen by narrative art in toto – Blue is anti-tragedy, White is anti-comedy and Red is anti-romance and although the stories of all three only come together right at the end of Red, all three are bound tightly together in a subtle repetition of ideas, motifs, situations, binary repetitions and subliminal connections which rebound throughout. These are films which can be watched a thousand times and still offer up something new, some revelatory nuance which has been missed before. Kieślowski and Piesiewicz avoid spelling things out overtly and encourage us to enter their world both intellectually and intuitively – “You make films to give people something, to transport them somewhere else, and it doesn’t matter if you transport them to a world of intuition or a world of the intellect” (Kieślowski). How one responds to these films then is very much a personal reaction, one determined by our own life-experiences which Kieślowski and Piesiewicz want us to bring to bear on our response.

I will examine each film in greater detail later under each individual title, but here I will address just a few of the themes, ticks and tropes which reoccur and bind the films very tightly together as a Trilogy. All three films begin and end the same way. They open with the visualization of abstract mechanisms which course under our everyday existence – Blue opens with flashing lights whizzing past as seen from beneath a car driving through a tunnel, White opens on a carousel in an airport bearing a suitcase through subterranean tunnels headed for an un-stated destination, and Red opens with a phone call leading to the camera hurtling down telephone lines across Europe, under the sea to be met by an engaged signal on the other end. Immediately all three films force us to question what courses beneath our seemingly benign everyday lives. The films finish on three of our key protagonists in tears looking through glass. To say why they are in tears would be to say too much here, but suffice to say all three scenes confirm the impossibilities of the three ideals the films are centrally about. The glass is part of the intricate mise-en-scène of all three films wherein characters are forever seen doubled through windows, mirrors and other reflective surfaces. All three films feature nervous, sensitive protagonists who have great intuition. Blue and White feature liberty and equality which are individual traits and Julie and Karol both face up to their ethical dilemmas and emerge ready to live another day even if liberty and equality are both shown to be illusory. Red features fraternity which is a group trait, not an individual one and features two protagonists (Valentine and Judge Joseph) who are no less intuitive and also face up to their dilemmas which eventually turn out to be a shared one. All three films feature the legal process very strongly. Each one has a crucial court room scene and in Blue and White, the protagonists of both films briefly appear in the other’s films as Julie mistakenly enters the courtroom where Karol and Dominique’s divorce case is being heard. In addition to courthouse scenes we are also given other lawyers who are charged with carrying out the protagonists’ lives. Julie’s lawyer (Pierre Forget) is charged with dispensing her estate while Karol’s lawyer (Aleksander Bardini, also the lawyer in No End!) is charged with changing his will. Red is most lawyer-bound of all as two of the main protagonists are judges.

All three films show characters negotiating new lives, but retaining objects from their past. In Blue Julie retains a large blue mobile which recurs as an important visual motif throughout. We connect it to her lost daughter, but we could also connect it to her own childhood. In White Karol takes back to Poland a 2 Franc coin and a plaster cast of Marianne which in his imagination becomes Dominique. Both represent the key motivation for his search for equality – to get rich quick and to win back his love. In Red the judge has retained a fountain pen which had been given him by his lost love and which symbolically stops working as he consciously changes his life. This is echoed in Red by Karin giving Joseph’s doppelgänger Auguste another fountain pen. Also present in all three films is a scene of an old person trying unsuccessfully to put a bottle into a bottle bank, the reaction of our three protagonists demonstrating the respective ideal each one is concerned with. Julie doesn’t notice the old woman in the spirit of freedom, Karol laughs cynically at an old men being as ‘low’ as he is in the spirit of equality, and Valentine happily helps an old woman in the spirit of fraternity. In addition to windows and mirrors, broken glass is a re-occurring feature especially in Blue (the window Julie breaks in her bid to commit suicide and the blue glass she tears from her mobile in a moment of grief) and in Red (a broken beer glass in a bowling alley which suggests a dispute between August and Karin and the judge’s windows which are broken by stones thrown by his neighbors). Unifying (and perhaps anchoring) the Trilogy are Biblical references (I Corinthians 13 set to music at the end of Blue, Matthew quoted in Red) and Preisner’s music which moves from a full blown concerto for 13 symphony orchestras and massed choir in Blue (music is a very important structural element of this film in particular) through a deliciously lop-sided tango for the blackly comic shenannigins of White to a hypnotic Bolero for Red. At one point in Red Valentine visits a record shop and amidst the cacophony of different music being listened to by customers we can make out the music from all three films which are ascribed to a certain ‘Van den Budenmajer’, the nom de plume used by Preisner ever since Dekalog 9 where we first met the name.

What really puts the central examination of liberty, equality and fraternity on a personal plane (one everyone can relate to) is the way the dilemmas faced by the protagonists stem from sexual infidelity and the problems of sexual compatibility in general. Searching to live up to these ideals is shown to be incompatible with successful love wherein people can be truly happy. Kieślowski and Piesiewicz taking their cue from F. W. Murnau’s Sunrise (1928) perhaps through Erich Rohmer’s Moral Tales, this is the biggest theme which sears through the Trilogy gluing all three films seamlessly together. In Blue Julie finds out her husband had been having an affair with Sandrine (yet another lawyer!). In White Karol’s impotence causes Dominique to desert him for other men. In Red sexual infidelity has turned the judge into a misanthrope with August playing his doppelgänger forced into playing Peeping Tom as he watches another man between Karin’s legs. Fear of infidelity looms over Valentine’s relationship with her absent boyfriend who makes annoying accusatory phone calls. This theme is visualized by making the faithful ‘good’ characters (Julie, Valentine) dark haired and the unfaithful libidinous ‘bad’ characters (Sandrine and Lucille in Blue, Dominique in White, Karin in Red) all blonds. Kieślowski and Piesiewicz must have been bitten by blonds in a previous life as all the libidinous characters throughout Dekalog are also blond. Revealingly, the infidelities depicted in these films have both positive and negative effects. Julie’s discovery causes painful jealousy, but it wrenches her back to join the real world. She learns to love again by giving up her liberty. Karol’s humiliation leads to eventual rejuvenation (a surge back to potency) and a corresponding rejection of the pursuit of equality. August’s cuckolding combined with tensions in Valentine’s relationship effect the possibility of a start of a new relationship between the two as they meet after the disaster. This consummates the judge’s life-long desire to unite with his true love through his doppelgänger, but at the expense of hundreds of lives and the rejection of the possibility of true fraternity for all. In the end true love wins through even if it is a prison which makes liberty, equality and fraternity impossibilities and a world where man and woman can only perceive each other at best “through a glass darkly.” This is movingly conveyed in the image of Julie and Olivier (man and woman) making love through glass to these exact words from Corinthians 13 at the end of Blue and then confirmed in the final but one image of Red as the judge cries through the glass of a broken window.

I want to finish by stressing how open-ended these wonderful films are and how wary we should be to try to interpret things too definitely. Much is mysterious, opaque and difficult to read, especially I would say Red where the metaphysics become particularly labyrinthine with subtle doubling and binary combinations reflecting on many different levels both in the deeply resonant script and in the complex visuals. To take one example, one possibility is that August doesn’t actually exist, that he is Joseph’s alter-ego posited by him to correct a mistake he made in the past. Like the greatest art these films merit the closest attention and will give up different things as one travels through life. Everyone is encouraged to watch and bring their own experiences to the table to understand the incredible richness of what Kieślowski has set before us. This is pretty much as good as cinema gets.

THREE COLOURS BLUE
(1993, France, 94 minutes, colour, Dolby Digital 5.0, Enhanced for wide screens, French language / English subtitles)
EXTRAS: Kieślowski masterclass / Interviews with Juliette Binoche, Jacques Witta (editor), Marin Karmitz (producer) / 3 extracts from Zbigniew Preisner’s soundtrack score

THREE COLOURS WHITE
(1994, France, 88 minutes, colour, Dolby Digital 5.0, Enhanced for wide screens, French & Polish languages / English subtitles)
EXTRAS: Kieślowski masterclass / Interviews with Julie Delpy, Marin Karmitz (producer) / Making of documentary / 3 extracts from Zbigniew Preisner’s soundtrack score

THREE COLOURS RED
(1994, France, 95 minutes, colour, Dolby Digital 5.0, Enhanced for wide screens, French language / English subtitles)
EXTRAS: Kieślowski masterclass / Interviews with Irène Jacob, Jacques Witta (editor), Marin Karmitz (producer) / Kieślowski at Cannes 1994 / Making of documentary / 3 extracts from Zbigniew Preisner’s soundtrack score

I’M SO SO…
(1995, Denmark / Poland, 55 minutes, colour, Dolby Digital 2.0, aspect ratio: 4:3, Polish language / English subtitles)
88 Comments| 3 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 28 March 2005
In his "Three Colours" trilogy, Kieslowski takes a handful of people whose destinies are irretrievably welded together as an expression of liberty, equality, and fraternity, and presents their lives and the decisions which have led them to come together.
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.
0Comment| 47 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 21 May 2004
These 3 films are one of the most significant events in the history of cinema. Having said that, I don't feel they deal with themes which are beyond the understanding of mere mortals like me and you. They are like some of Beethoven's greatest music: it's simple but unfathomably great.
My personal favourite is "White." The male lead embodies the pathos of his situation perfectly, and, while he goes on to overcome his personal difficulties in dramatic fashion, and to take revenge on what he sees as his wife's cruelty, he comes to realise that he has gained nothing of lasting value. The closing scene is one of the most genuinely moving moments I have ever seen.
The glorious "Blue" quickly dispenses with the preliminaries; the central character's composer husband is killed in a car accident, and his wife eventually finds peace and redemption through a chance hearing of a street musician, apparently playing one of her late husband's themes, even though the music had never been published. She goes on to work on her husband's unfinished compositions, and the film reminds us of the universality of human suffering and the potential for human unity.
Like I said, these aren't new or even original themes, but this trilogy treats them with a cinematic beauty and a profound insight into the workings of the mind which has never been equalled.
If you want to spend some time with your television, you couldn't ask for a more worthwhile way of doing it.
0Comment| 12 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 12 July 2004
The real value of buying this set if you already own the Three Colours films on DVD is the inclusion of the documentary 'I'm so-so' on the fourth disc. It is a wonderful film and reveals Kieslowski in a way that his written autobiography does not (or it acheives something sufficiently different to make it worthwhile). We all know that the Three Colours films are high points of 1990s European cinema so there isn't too much to say there. The extras on each disc are exactly the same as Artificial Eye's previous DVD releases so if you already have them you have to make the financial decision to outlay more money on the set. It goes without saying that if you are new to these films then you should buy the set immediately. But also consider the director's earlier 'Dekalog' which, for my money, is his best output - the Polish films win every time.
0Comment| 27 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse

Sponsored Links

  (What is this?)