Author Topic: Three Colours, and Kieslowski  (Read 1294 times)

Three Colours, and Kieslowski
« on: January 21, 2020, 03:42:49 AM »
I've watched the Three Colours trilogy over the last couple of weeks.  I had only seen Blue before, on its original release, and remembered nothing about it other than it started with a car crash.  After watching all three I think Blue is actually the most satisfying of the three, while Red is the most intriguing and might seem richer with another watch.  White felt out of place: the lighter tone is clearly not the director's forte, and the theme of 'Equality' was pretty weakly woven in, while the story itself resembled an overextended O Henry plot, or an episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents. 

The trilogy as a whole does feel of a piece, but the explicit links between the three are so minor they should have been excised altogether.  (What the heck is the significance of the old lady at the bottle bank anyway?  Is it just a way of saying that Irene Jacob is the nicest of the three main characters?)

Kieslowski seems respected rather than loved.  I doubt there are many actual enthusiasts of his work.  I've only seen a couple of episodes of the Dekalog (inc A Short Film About Killing which did impress me, but I was quite young at the time and it is just the sort of stark, intense work that impresses young movie-lovers), really didn't like The Double Life of Veronique, but quite enjoyed an earlier work of his called Blind Chance that was re-released a few years back.

But in general I think there is a stiffness to his work that stops it being great.  It comes over as too preconceived, too strictly planned: there's no life in it.  Plus the later stuff seems very calculated for maximum appeal to international art-house audiences.

Re: Three Colours, and Kieslowski
« Reply #1 on: January 21, 2020, 03:47:23 AM »
I hate his stuff, it's like being dragged to church. I have to steel myself and grit my teeth

Re: Three Colours, and Kieslowski
« Reply #2 on: January 21, 2020, 03:57:08 AM »
I hate his stuff, it's like being dragged to church. I have to steel myself and grit my teeth

What do you mean by this? I find his films very open-ended and ambiguous, certainly not preachy.

Re: Three Colours, and Kieslowski
« Reply #3 on: January 21, 2020, 04:11:30 AM »
I'm talking about the oppressive stateliness 

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Re: Three Colours, and Kieslowski
« Reply #4 on: January 21, 2020, 04:11:35 AM »
Kieslowski seems respected rather than loved.  I doubt there are many actual enthusiasts of his work.

I am, especially Blue. it's a great and bold look on grief. Dekalog is a masterpiece too. imo I can't think of many cineastes that explored ethical conundrums with such intelligence. A Short Story About Love is devastating. I can't stand much of the art house/films made for festival you have these days but I reckon it's unfair to lump Kieslowski with them. I agree that White is quite weak. And that Blind Chance is indeed very good.

I don't really understand the 'there's no life in it' argument. obviously the starting point of most his films are pre-established, 'massive' concepts (the French motto, the ten commandments etc.) but the way he expands it is always surprising imo.

I hope someone will defend his work eloquently than I'm able to.

Re: Three Colours, and Kieslowski
« Reply #5 on: January 21, 2020, 04:41:08 AM »
I'm talking about the oppressive stateliness 

Stately is the exact opposite of how I would describe Kieslowski's movies, which are all fundamentally very small stories about everyday lives.

I hope someone will defend his work eloquently than I'm able to.

I like Ebert's review of the Dekalog: https://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/great-movie-the-decalogue-1988

Re: Three Colours, and Kieslowski
« Reply #6 on: January 21, 2020, 04:51:07 AM »
Stately is the exact opposite of how I would describe Kieslowski's movies, which are all fundamentally very small stories about everyday lives.

referring to formal quality, how the thing moves

Re: Three Colours, and Kieslowski
« Reply #7 on: January 21, 2020, 04:54:44 AM »
referring to formal quality, how the thing moves

Which movie(s)?

Re: Three Colours, and Kieslowski
« Reply #8 on: January 21, 2020, 05:03:58 AM »
Trois couleurs, haven't seen Dekalog

Re: Three Colours, and Kieslowski
« Reply #9 on: January 21, 2020, 05:22:09 AM »
His 90's works general push towards linking itself into "high culture"(classical music, fashion, etc) I can understand being off putting to some which I spose was why Pulp Fiction was viewed as such a black eye at the time but I do think the real centre of the films remains the drama which doesn't feel unearnt to me and Blue especially is very effecting IMHO with Binoche giving a great performance. If that aspect does turn you off then the Dekalog is probably a good alternative, the series is still somewhat "stately" in terms of having a slow atmospheric pace but its at a smaller scale without those high culture elements pushed into it. The two adapted into films are the most well known but several other episodes are very strong as well, love the third one with the taxi driver and his ex mistress driving around snowy after dark Warsaw.
« Last Edit: January 21, 2020, 06:52:17 AM by greenman »

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Re: Three Colours, and Kieslowski
« Reply #10 on: January 21, 2020, 06:03:20 AM »
I think it was of its time but will probably get rediscovered in 10 years time as a great work.

Re: Three Colours, and Kieslowski
« Reply #11 on: January 21, 2020, 08:10:01 AM »
I watched 3 colours and Wim Wenders' Until the End of the World just after the brexit vote. All of that new European 'the world's getting smaller' optimism crushed.

I think I liked Red the most, but like Blind Chance even more.

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Re: Three Colours, and Kieslowski
« Reply #12 on: January 21, 2020, 09:38:36 AM »
I watched these again over Christmas and I was totally blown away, Red is especially brilliant. It's years since I'd seen them and I remembered Blue as the best, White as a bit shit and Red and a nice little chamber piece about a model and an old man. I was kind of wrong, especially about White, which is actually really funny, but still weaker than the other two (though the final shot of Julie Delpy is fantastic). For me, the overarching idealism isn't really the point of the films and as far as I know, Kieslowksi just used the liberty, equality, fraternity thing to secure French funding for the films. They're small, human pieces about people dealing with change in their lives and ultimately, dealing with coincidences. They're all very good films in their own right but watching one a night over three nights worked really well for me this time, as it made the payoff at the end of Red all the better.

An extraordinary detail: the old woman trying to push something into a recycling bin, and the different reactions of the characters in each film. A bit odd that she's in Paris in the first two films and Geneva in the last, but that's exactly the sort of coincidence Kieslowski can make work.

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Re: Three Colours, and Kieslowski
« Reply #13 on: January 21, 2020, 09:44:43 AM »
Yeah, Dekalog is the real Kieslowski masterpiece.  Without taking anything away from Three Colours (and chalk me up as another that doesn't see Monsieur Verdoux's criticism, but each to their own and that), but Dekalog is a whole other level.

I can also very highly recommend most of his documentaries - it's amazing how many people, even fans of Three Colours and Dekalog, don't realise just how many docs he made (they outnumber his fictional works).

Re: Three Colours, and Kieslowski
« Reply #14 on: January 21, 2020, 09:46:52 AM »
in the middle of Dekalog for the first time and LOVE IT

Re: Three Colours, and Kieslowski
« Reply #15 on: January 21, 2020, 10:19:25 AM »
Anyone seen 'Christiane F. - Wir Kinder Vom Bahnhof Zoo' - that is one depressing film but epic at the same time....

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Re: Three Colours, and Kieslowski
« Reply #16 on: January 21, 2020, 10:46:30 AM »
Anyone seen 'Christiane F. - Wir Kinder Vom Bahnhof Zoo' - that is one depressing film but epic at the same time....

Yes.  Utterly depressing.

I was also going to comment "Uli Edel's only decent film", until I realised that I was getting Edel confused with similary-named-but-not-similarly-talented Ulli Lommel.

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Re: Three Colours, and Kieslowski
« Reply #17 on: January 21, 2020, 11:14:37 AM »
SGN - which doc would you recommend?

Massive fan of his - Dekalog especially which is perfect.. Agree with the criticism of White though.

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Re: Three Colours, and Kieslowski
« Reply #18 on: January 21, 2020, 11:30:02 AM »
SGN - which doc would you recommend?

Almost any of them (and, when I last looked, most of them were on YouTube, and all of them are easily downloadable from "the usual places").

IMDB actually has it right in my opinion - Seven Days A Week, Talking Heads, From A Night Porter's Point Of View and I Was A Soldier all at the top tier.

The good thing is that all of them are short - most of them less than 20mins, none of them longer than an hour, so you can blast through most or all of them without it taking up too much time.

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Re: Three Colours, and Kieslowski
« Reply #19 on: January 21, 2020, 02:08:26 PM »
Amazing - thanks. This has opened up a whole box of treats that I had no idea about.

Re: Three Colours, and Kieslowski
« Reply #20 on: January 21, 2020, 03:09:20 PM »
Yeah, Dekalog is the real Kieslowski masterpiece.  Without taking anything away from Three Colours (and chalk me up as another that doesn't see Monsieur Verdoux's criticism, but each to their own and that), but Dekalog is a whole other level.

I can also very highly recommend most of his documentaries - it's amazing how many people, even fans of Three Colours and Dekalog, don't realise just how many docs he made (they outnumber his fictional works).

The Arrow release of the Dekalog actually has quite a few documentaries on it as well.

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Re: Three Colours, and Kieslowski
« Reply #21 on: January 21, 2020, 03:15:21 PM »
The Arrow release of the Dekalog actually has quite a few documentaries on it as well.

Wooooo, does it?

Must get around to replacing my old bare bones American DVD of that.

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Re: Three Colours, and Kieslowski
« Reply #22 on: January 21, 2020, 04:02:54 PM »
I saw it in CeX for a tenner and didn't buy it for some reason. Massive regret. Especially as getting the subtitles last time was an absolute nightmare.


Re: Three Colours, and Kieslowski
« Reply #23 on: January 21, 2020, 04:05:42 PM »
Wooooo, does it?

Must get around to replacing my old bare bones American DVD of that.

4-5 of them from the 70's to the early 80's if I remember correctly.

Re: Three Colours, and Kieslowski
« Reply #24 on: January 21, 2020, 08:01:23 PM »
Oddly enough someone I just recently realised was an "auteur" I was yet to see anything from (Well I guess because of them being on Mubi)

Enjoyed Blue, but White I found difficult to get past my irritation with the main character, which is a shame, as I liked other aspects. We'll see with Red.

Re: Three Colours, and Kieslowski
« Reply #25 on: January 21, 2020, 11:00:51 PM »
I saw Dekalog ages before I saw Three Colours and the latter didn't really hold up at all in comparison. Maybe I'd dislike Dekalog if I revisited it but I thought it was fucking great at the time and all the French stuff just felt really stale and a bit in love with itself.

Re: Three Colours, and Kieslowski
« Reply #26 on: January 22, 2020, 02:02:40 AM »
I saw Dekalog ages before I saw Three Colours and the latter didn't really hold up at all in comparison. Maybe I'd dislike Dekalog if I revisited it but I thought it was fucking great at the time and all the French stuff just felt really stale and a bit in love with itself.

I think you could argue the Dekalog's format of just under an hour per story actually suits his style(at least by that point and latter, not seen stuff like Camera Buff which seems more grounded) very well, the longer films do arguably end up feeling a little padded even at just and hour and a half. Veronique I perhaps a bit less so but that's really two stories mixed together.

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Re: Three Colours, and Kieslowski
« Reply #27 on: January 22, 2020, 05:25:50 PM »
I love his films, Red and Double Life of Veronique especially. Love the golden green hues of Veronique, so stunning to look at.
I've had the Arrow Dekalog box on my shelf for two years and haven't opened it. I like looking at it and reading about all the special features. I know the series is going to be right up my street it so I don't really know what I'm waiting for.

Re: Three Colours, and Kieslowski
« Reply #28 on: January 31, 2020, 10:12:37 AM »
His early films like Blind Chance and Dekalog had a brilliantly gritty quality, they really felt like you were in a stinking communist-era Polish tower block surrounded by desperate, broken, morally compromised people trying to dig out a small space in which they could live authentic lives. Then he moved to France and made much more high-toned, pretty stuff predominantly about very elegant French upper-middle-class people in nice surroundings (Veronique, the Three Colours); the moral issues are much more delicate and spiritual and even though the characters are freer, there's less at stake than the doom of an entire country and communist system. While the latter films certainly have a lot of merit, they are very different, like someone turned from Ken Loach into David Lean, and for me it's the early ones that are more interesting and which I can relate to more.

Re: Three Colours, and Kieslowski
« Reply #29 on: January 31, 2020, 10:18:43 PM »
I love his films, Red and Double Life of Veronique especially. Love the golden green hues of Veronique, so stunning to look at.
I've had the Arrow Dekalog box on my shelf for two years and haven't opened it. I like looking at it and reading about all the special features. I know the series is going to be right up my street it so I don't really know what I'm waiting for.
You're viewing it as a ten hour film maybe?

It's very very much 10 one hour films, and there's no need whatsoever to watch them all together imo.

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