Three Colours: Blue

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Three Colours: Blue
Bluevidcov.jpg
French release poster
FrenchTrois couleurs : Bleu
Directed byKrzysztof Kieślowski
Written by
Produced byMarin Karmitz
Starring
CinematographySławomir Idziak
Edited byJacques Witta
Music byZbigniew Preisner
Production
companies
Distributed by
  • MK2 Diffusion (France)
  • Rialto Film (Switzerland)
Release date
  • 8 September 1993 (1993-09-08) (France and Switzerland)
  • 10 October 1993 (1993-10-10) (Warsaw)
Running time
94 minutes
Countries
  • France
  • Poland
  • Switzerland
LanguageFrench
Box office$1.33 million[1]
(United States)

Three Colours: Blue (French: Trois couleurs : Bleu, Polish: Trzy kolory. Niebieski) is a 1993 French drama film directed and co-written by Polish filmmaker Krzysztof Kieślowski. Blue is the first of three films that comprise the Three Colours trilogy, themed on the French Revolutionary ideals of liberty, equality, and fraternity; it is followed by White and Red. According to Kieślowski, the subject of the film is liberty, specifically emotional liberty, rather than its social or political meaning.[2]

Set in Paris, the film is about a woman whose husband and child are killed in a car accident. Suddenly set free from her familial bonds, she attempts to cut herself off from everything and live in isolation from her former ties, but finds that she can't free herself from human connections.[3]

Blue received critical acclaim upon release and won several accolades, including the Golden Lion and the Volpi Cup for Best Actress at the Venice Film Festival, and it is among Kieślowski's most celebrated works.[4][5]

Plot[edit]

Julie (Juliette Binoche), the wife of the famous French composer Patrice de Courcy, loses her husband and daughter in an automobile accident she herself survives. While recovering in a hospital, Julie attempts suicide by overdosing on pills, but cannot swallow them. After being released from the hospital, Julie, who it is suggested wrote (or helped to write) much of her husband's famous pieces, destroys what is left of them. Calling Olivier (Benoît Régent), a collaborator of her husband's who has always admired her, she sleeps with him before bidding him goodbye. Emptying the family house and putting it up for sale, she takes an apartment in Paris near Rue Mouffetard without telling anyone, her only memento being a mobile of blue beads that is hinted to have belonged to her daughter.

Julie disassociates herself from her past life and distances herself from former friendships, even being no longer recognized by her mother, who suffers from Alzheimer's. She also reclaims and destroys the unfinished score for her late husband's last commissioned work − a piece celebrating European unity following the end of the Cold War. Excerpts of its music, however, haunt her throughout the film.

Despite her desire to live anonymously and alone, Julie is soon confronted by her past. A boy who witnessed the accident meets Julie and gives her a cross necklace found at the scene and asks her about her husband's last words, the punchline of an indelicate joke; Julie allows the boy to keep the necklace. Julie also reluctantly befriends an exotic dancer named Lucille (Charlotte Véry) who is having an affair with one of her neighbors and is despised by most people in the apartment building. The two women would support each other emotionally. While comforting Lucille at the club where she works, Julie sees Olivier being interviewed on TV, revealing that he kept a copy of the European piece and plans to finish it himself; Julie then sees a picture of Patrice with another woman.

Julie confronts Olivier about the European piece and asks him about the woman seen with Patrice. She tracks down Sandrine (Florence Pernel), a lawyer and Patrice's lover, and finds out that she is pregnant with his child; Julie arranges for her to have the family house, not yet sold, and eventual recognition of his paternity for the child. Julie then returns to working on the piece with Olivier and finishes the final part. She then calls Olivier, who refuses to take the piece as his own unless Julie is credited as well, to which Julie agrees. Julie then calls Olivier again, asks him if he still loves her; he says yes, and Julie proceeds to meet him.

In the final sequence, part of the completed Unity of Europe piece is played (which features chorus and a solo soprano singing in Greek the praise of divine love in Saint Paul's first letter to the Corinthians) and images are seen of all the people Julie has affected by her actions. The film ends with a shot of Julie crying before she begins to smile gradually.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

Blue was an international co-production between the French companies CED Productions, Eurimages, France 3 Cinéma, and MK2 Productions, the Swiss company CAB Productions and the Polish company Studio Filmowe TOR.

Like the other films in the trilogy, Blue makes frequent visual allusions to its title: numerous scenes are shot with blue filters or blue lighting, and many objects are blue. When Julie thinks about the musical score that she has tried to destroy, blue light overwhelms the screen. The film also includes several references to the colours of the tricolor that inspired Kieślowski's trilogy: several scenes are dominated by red light, and in one scene, children dressed in white bathing suits with red floaters jump into the blue swimming pool. Another scene features a link with the next film in the trilogy: while spotting the lawyer Sandrine, her husband's mistress, Julie is seen entering a courtroom where Karol, the Polish main character of White, is being divorced by Dominique, his estranged French wife.

Analysis[edit]

Music plays an intricate element of the plot in that it illustrates Julie's efforts to be isolated from everything but cannot do it, much as music cannot be made with a single note but through harmony with all others and how everyone has (or represents) a different kind of music, such as the union of Julie/Patrice had a special tone, which is quite different and more raw with the union of Julie/Olivier.[6][7]

Another aspect in the film are the fade-outs, which are traditionally used in movies to represent time passing or to conclude a certain scene, but here instead bring the viewer back to the point in time when the fade-out began. The occasional fade-outs and fade-ins to Julie's character are used to represent an extremely subjective point of view. According to Kieślowski, "at a certain moment, time really does pass for Julie while at the same time, it stands still. Not only does her music come back to haunt her at a certain point, but time stands still for a moment."[verification needed]

Reception[edit]

Three Colours: Blue received widespread acclaim from film critics. On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 98% based on 46 reviews, with an average rating of 8.5/10.[8] The website's critical consensus reads, "Three Colors: Blue contains some of director/co-writer Krzysztof Kieslowski's most visually arresting, emotionally resonant work—and boasts an outstanding performance from Juliette Binoche in the bargain."[8] On Metacritic, another review aggregator, the film has a weighted average score of 85 out of 100, indicating "universal acclaim".[9]

Marjorie Baumgarten of The Austin Chronicle said:

Blue is a film that engages the mind, challenges the senses, implores a resolution, and tells, with aesthetic grace and formal elegance, a good story and a political allegory.[10]

Derek Malcolm of The Guardian wrote:

Blue remains an intense and moving tribute to the woman at its centre who, in coming back from tragedy, almost refuses, but ultimately accepts the only real love that's on offer.[11]

Year-end lists[edit]

Soundtrack[edit]

Awards and recognition[edit]

In 2007, the film was ranked at No. 29 by The Guardian's readers poll on the list of "40 greatest foreign films of all time".[16] The film ranked 64th in BBC's 2018 list of The 100 greatest foreign language films.[17]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Trois couleurs: Bleu (1993)". JPBox Office. Retrieved 2017-05-01.
  2. ^ Three Colours: Blue, Bonus Features: Commentary by Anne Insdorf, A Look at "Blue".
  3. ^ Kieślowski, Krzysztof. Kieślowski on Kieślowski. Edited by Danusia Stok. London: Faber and Faber, 1998, p. 212.
  4. ^ "Krzysztof Kieslowski's Acclaimed Films". They Shoot Pictures, Don't They. Retrieved October 22, 2016.
  5. ^ "Votes for Three Colours Blue (1993)". British Film Institute. Retrieved October 17, 2016.
  6. ^ Kieślowski, Krzysztof. Kieślowski on Kieślowski. Edited by Danusia Stok. London: Faber and Faber, 1998, p. 224.
  7. ^ Insdorf, Annette. Double Lives, Second Chances: the Cinema of Krzysztof Kieślowski. New York: Hyperion, 1999, p. 140.
  8. ^ a b "Three Colors: Blue (Trois Couleurs: Bleu) (1993)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2017-11-14.
  9. ^ "Three Colors: Blue Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved October 17, 2016.
  10. ^ Baumgarten, Marjorie. "Calendar: Film Listings - Blue", The Austin Chronicle, March 18, 1994. Accessed May 21, 2007.
  11. ^ "Derek Malcolm". Derek Malcolm. 14 October 1993. Retrieved November 3, 2014.
  12. ^ Berardinelli, James (January 2, 1995). "Rewinding 1994 -- The Year in Film". ReelViews. Retrieved July 19, 2020.
  13. ^ "Three Colors: Blue". NW Film Center. 2019-03-18. Retrieved 2020-12-08.
  14. ^ "Three Colors Blue (1993)". Swedish Film Institute. 23 March 2014.
  15. ^ "Chicago Film Festival 1995". Mubi.
  16. ^ "As chosen by you...the greatest foreign films of all time". The Guardian. 11 May 2007.
  17. ^ "The 100 Greatest Foreign Language Films". bbc. 29 October 2018. Retrieved 10 January 2021.

External links[edit]