Friday, 25 January 2013

(3) Three Colours: Blue

In the previous post I gave a brief introduction about the Three Colours trilogy. Three Colours: Blue is the first film of the Kieślowski's admirable trilogy, Blue discusses liberty, a search for personal freedom. Since music is a significant form of expression in the film, I would suggest to open its soundtrack here, before you continue with reading, moreover, make sure to watch the film before you read further.
When Julie (Juliette Binochi) loses her husband Patrice, a famous French composer, and her daughter Anna in a car crash, she starts her personal search for freedom in a form of a self-denial. Julia gets rid of all of her belongings, acquaintances, memories, responsibilities, anything that ties her to the life she had with her husband and daughter, anything that ties her to the past. However, her husbands unfinished concerto for Unification of Europe drags her back to the past and reality, she is the only one who can finish it. Furthermore Julia finds out that her husband had a mistress, who now is pregnant. Despite all her persistence, she understands that it is impossible to lock herself away from everyone. 

Although at the end 1980s Julliette Binochi had every opportunity to abandon Europe's cinema and head off to Hollywood, especially after receiving offers from Spielberg and other notable directors, she declined and stayed in Europe. Moreover, in 1993 she accepted Kieślowski's offer to work on Three Colours: Blue. Without Binochi in the role of Julie the film would have been completely different, Kieślowski himself has said, that it is easier to write a role with a certain actor in mind, because you know his or her abilities. Binoche's performance in Blue is deep and strong, which strengthens the film's emotional power.

The film opens with a sequence of close ups: showing a car speeding through the blue night, followed by a shot, where Anna is holding a blue candy wrapper, and then a sequence continues with a close up on the brake cable from which fluid is dripping, suggesting that an accident is imminent.

The opening sequence.
The silence of this scene is intense, that when the car hits the tree the loud noise comes like a shock penetrating the viewer. Kieślowski's precise use of sound creates a rhythm and a tone to the film. The sound is accompanied with the colour blue, which becomes a symbol of loneliness, solitude, coldness and melancholy. 
In all three films, but especially in Blue Kieślowski uses camera as a sentient instrument. Therefore the viewer has ability to look at the film through the eyes of characters, the viewer is let into their world and the viewer can feel their emotions. Kieślowski uses close ups to describe Julie's emotions and inner world, to make the viewer look into the protagonist's mind, as it is done in the next scene after the opening sequence. To both, the viewer and Julie, it is revealed that Anna and Patrice both died in the car crash. The viewer perceives Julie's emotions through this extreme close up of her eye with a doctor's reflection in it. There is no use of explanatory 'thoughts' or voice over narration or dialogue. All the sensations are captured in the most intimate and extreme close up imaginable - the human eye.

Extreme close up of Julie's eye.
Thus, Kieślowski uses camera to create the film's emotions, so that the viewer would continually be aware of Julie's state of mind.
After Julie learns about her husband and daughter's death, she starts her journey for personal freedom. After an unsuccessful suicide attempt in the hospital, Julie starts to reconstruct her life through complete self-denial, so her "new" life would be free of pain, memories, relationships and responsibilities. However, already in the hospital she is visited by the  past, that is, she hears a part of the concerto, that her husband or she was composing to commemorate Unification of Europe. When this music starts to play the colour blue emerges. Thus, blue becomes a symbol of her solitude. Throughout the film the past keeps haunting Julie and intrudes on her solitude. However, she is so caught up in her isolated world that she doesn't notice an old lady struggling to deposit a bottle in a bottle bank. The scene echoed also in the next two films of the trilogy, thus it becomes one out of many links between all three. Another example being a scene in the court house, where the two protagonists from White appears. The only thing, that Julie keeps as a reminder of the past is the blue chandelier from the blue room.

Julie in the blue room with the blue chandelier.
While sitting in the coffee shop she hears a street musician playing music similar or almost the same to that which she composed with her husband. Once again, Kieślowski uses close up to show the passing of time - by a movement of shadow. 

Time is passing.
Triggered by music, people and memories Julie ultimately starts to reconcile with her past and recognises her needs, emotions and humanity. First off, she visits her mother in a nursery home, but leaves with no communication. Afterwards, she visits Olivier. Thus, Julie doesn't suppress her urge to compose and decides to help Olivier to finish the concerto.

Julie composes again.
To settle everything with her past, she gives her old house to Patrice's mistress and expresses her wish that the baby would be named after Patrice. Julie now is ready to accept her humanity and Olivier's love. 
Kieślowski shows that personal freedom is impossible and Three Colours: Blue celebrates Julie's acceptance that she needs love and other people, after all as Kieślowski said, "'Love is a much more human emotion than the desire for freedom.'" (The 'Three Colours' Trilogy)
Consequently, Julia now is ready to live again and face her past and future, thus in a way she has achieved some kind of freedom. She finally is free to grieve and accept love.

In the same way the film started it ends - a non-narrative shot sequence with all the major characters, the camera slowly moves from one image to the other and we finally hear the whole chorus of the concerto.
Though I speak with the tongue of angels, if I have not love, I am become as hollow brass. Though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have enough faith to move the mightiest mountains, if I have not love, I am nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind. It bears all things, it hopes all things. Love never fails. For prophecies shall fail, tongues shall cease, knowledge will wither away. And now shall abide faith, hope and love; but the greatest of these is love. (The 'Three Colours' Trilogy)
The final sequence: liberty and love.
Three Colours: Blue is the emotionally deep study of loss, grief, solitude and liberty. The film is shot, scored, scripted and performed with an admirable sensitivity. Out of all three films, Blue is the most dramatic, and my personal favorite.

For those who are amazed by Kieślowski's trilogy as I am, below is his cinema lesson on Blue, where he explains his obsession with close ups and why they are so important, as well as his idea of unity. Enjoy the words of true and pure talent!

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