Three Colors: Blue (1993) / Drama
aka Three Colours: Blue
aka Trois couleurs: Bleu
MPAA Rated: R for sexuality and language
Running Time: 100 min.
Cast: Juliette Binoche, Benoit Regent, Florence Pernel, Charlotte Very, Helene Vincent
Director: Krzystof Kieslowski
Screenplay: Krzystof Kieslowski, Krzystof Piesiewicz
Review published August 28, 2006
Blue is the first of director Krzystof Kieslowski's trilogy of films featuring the colors of the French flag (White and Red are the others), known as the Three Colors Trilogy. Sadly, it would also be his last films, retiring shortly after, and seemingly at the peak of his form. Well, if you're going to go out, might as well be with a bang, as they say.
Of course, with the film Heaven coming out almost ten years later, his retirement wasn't long lived, although Kieslowski would not live long enough to direct his next trilogy. In an ironic twist to his "afterlife" in films, like the composer's does in Blue, Kieslowski's works live on, even if they are fostered by the vision of another director.
The three colors of France's flag each represent something different, and blue is for "Liberty." This liberty is represented by Julie (Binoche, Chocolat) whose husband and daughter die in a horrible car accident that leaves only her left among the living. He was one of the world's great composers, and much loved among many, but Julie tries to make a clean break of the past, selling off all their mutual possessions, and starting a new life for herself in an apartment in the city of Paris, where she spends much of the day doing mostly nothing in particular. Memories of her husband still come back from time to time, and try as she might, she is haunted by the absence and the grief left dormant. Her husband's music was reported to champion a unified Europe, but severing all ties, Julie throws it away. However, a copy was made of his great unfinished symphony, and Julie must make a decision on whether to help return to her old life and finish the piece, or spend the rest of it in the empty shell of her own making.
Both Kieslowski, as the director, and Binoche, as the star, makes this rather ponderous and rather scant idea for a script come to life in a major way. Blue is a fascinating piece of one woman's attempt to retreat into invisibility, unable to go on living, yet unwilling to die. Her entire life is built around stagnancy, about never wanting to be involved with anything or anyone, and never having to make any decisions. Life can go on around her, but she wants no part of it. Quite a unique perspective on not only one woman's plight, but also of France at large, who sees itself as an independent thinking nation, at once part of a European community, yet always striving for complete independence from it.
In a strict narrative form, most of Blue's main themes and actions reside just below the surface, so this is the kind of film that might be too slow for some impatient viewers, especially if they are watching it without the political, social, and artistic context from which it is created. Still, even watching the film in a vacuum, and keeping things strictly on the surface, it is definitely an interesting film in style, and wonderfully executed all around, with some especially memorable music composed by Zbigniew Preisner.
Blue might represent Liberty to France, but it also represents sadness on a larger scale, and no doubt some thought went into all of the contexts the color implies. Blur is a cold, sad tale of one woman's descent into the abyss of emptiness, and carries the message that liberty doesn't have to be synonymous with complete isolation.
©2006 Vince Leo