You may be aware that on late Sunday nights, Turner Classic Movies presents foreign films under its “Imports” collection. Tonight’s overseas showing is what is known as the Three Colors Trilogy by Polish director/writer Krzysztof Kielowski (a mouthful, I know).
The three movies are simply titled Blue, White, and Red, but they contain far from simple concepts. These were Kielowski’s last three films, his opus if you will, which he made simultaneously from 1993 through 1994, before his death two years later. In the late 60’s, he began his filmmaking career by mainly directing documentaries. In fact, it was when he desired to explore deeper realms of humanity, such as the conscience and the soul, that he knew he had to break from the documentary form in order to create and capture such elusive elements. Think of it as using a camera to create rather than to merely record.
Each movie of this trilogy is a seemingly stand-alone tale, though they all receive their names from the tri-colored flag of France, where the colors symbolize Liberty (blue), Equality (white), and Fraternity (red). Those themes are present in each of the designated movies, but they also explore other realms such as love, loss, justice, and humiliation to name a few. The three are masterfully-crafted, charged with endless layers of artistic and structural technique. Through meticulous staging and camera methods, the director aims to reach his viewers through their subconscious. It’s a goal that is well achieved. As viewers will quickly notice, the physical, titular color of each film plays a dominate part in its corresponding movie as well. Its presence is so strong and meaningful that the color itself is, in a way, a primary character in the story.
You will want to record these to watch later, unless you aim to pull an all-nighter.
A woman’s life changes without warning when she loses her family in an accident. Emotionless, the young widow chooses to wander, aiming to be obligated to no one, and to have no one obligated to her. There are certain truths in the world, however, that are inevitable and cannot be escaped. Despite her desire to live a new carefree life, where she will be spared from any further tragedy, we learn people weren’t designed to live free from others and that the appealing ideal of liberty is not nearly as fulfilling as being bound to another person.
Blue starts the trilogy at 2a.m.
At the surface level, this second film doesn’t appear as heavy as its trilogymates, maybe owing to the jovial soundtrack. However, White actually holds a gritty underlying theme. It begins with a bumbling, Polish hairdresser trying to get by financially and matrimonially in France. He is a fish out of water, vulnerable, and doesn’t speak the language well at all. As a result of his inability to please his beautiful French bride, they are on unequal footing. Frustrated, she divorces him leaving him broke and beaten. Now he must find a way back to his home country and rebuild his life. But what are his motives?
Watch White at 3:45 a.m.
Through a series of events, a young model finds friendship in a retired judge who has become cynical in his older years. From a life of handing out verdicts, the judge’s understanding of true justice had become blurred. There is more to the movie than this short summary, but much of it is told by visual cues. It explores the life that almost could be: Potential love and potential relationships, missed opportunities and opportunities one doesn’t know he or she has missed. Red prompts the viewer to wonder “What if?” and to lament with a yearning “If only.”
This one brings the three films to a close at 5:30 a.m.
(Reece Kelly, a native of East Liverpool, studied film at Regent University. Let him know what you thought of this week’s featured films by sending an email to ReecesReviews@gmail.com)