Tuesday, August 14, 2007



On one of my recent trips by plane, I watched the first movie I'd watched in a while, about three months: Bleu, the first in Polish director Krzystof Kieslowski's “Trois couleurs” trilogy (the others being, of course, Blanc and Rouge).

This is a wonderful series of movies, Mr Kieslowski's magnum opus. He announced his retirement after finishing “Rouge”, and died of a heart attack about a year later, not quite 55 years old. Most of his work in his 30-year career is only in Polish. Each of these three, which are in French (='Blanc'= is French and Polish) stars a different well-known French actress — Juliette Binoche in “Bleu”, Julie Delpy in “Blanc”, Irène Jacob in “Rouge” — and puts its protagonist in a different situation. Each asks (and only partially answers) different existential questions, and each leaves us continuing the ending for ourselves, beyond the finale of the movie.

I've seen all three films before, but got the DVDs as a set some time ago and am only now getting around to watching them again. “Bleu” was always my favourite of the three, a real masterpiece of a film. The movie opens with a car accident that kills a famous composer and his young daughter and puts his wife (Binoche) in the hospital. We then follow, after her release, how she copes with grief, love, life, memories, and more after everything she had has been changed irrevocably.

The music, composed by Zbigniew Preisner, is wonderful, and is central to the story. The cinematography and editing, by Slawomir Idziak and Jacques Witta, respectively, are equally apt, even down to things like a long closeup of an espresso cup, or a teaspoon stuck handle-first into an empty Perrier bottle. Each movie makes significant use of its title colour, and the blues here keep bringing us back to Binoche's character, Julie — like her frequent swims in an unnaturally blue swimming pool, perfectly lit for the scenes.

I love this film on so many levels. It's an “art” film, sure, but it's also a character study. And it makes us ask ourselves the things that Julie is implicitly asking, and is answering by her actions. I can't imagine leaving this movie without asking myself those same questions, without wondering about Julie's choices and what mine would be, and without thinking about where things are going next, after the movie ends and the characters go on.

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