Monday, September 24, 2007

Trois couleurs: Bleu by Krzysztof Kieslowski

"Blue", the first movie in the Three Colors Trilogy by the Polish director Kieslowski, is, in the words of the director, about the liberty of "life itself". The three colors, Blue, White and Red, are the colors in the French flag, symbolizing respectively Liberty, Equality and Fraternity.

The motion picture "Blue" is a subtle masterpiece of cinematography and is, in essence, an enquiry into freedom from one's past, so that life again has a chance to function without being repressed. Social, cultural and economic freedom is not the subject of this movie and those freedoms are assumed to be present.

The film begins with a car speeding down a highway, through tunnels and through nights, and is a metaphor for life itself. The landscape is merely a blur, which is an apt commentary on the self-immersion of the modern human being. This emphasizes that this will be a personal story, that the story will not have a big canvas.

The car stops by the side of the road, and we see something dripping on a pipe in the innards of the car. Not all is well inwardly, even though the car is outwardly shiny and modern. No matter what seeming perfection is achieved by technology and civilization, the possibility of faultlines always exists, and that is why even in the most advanced societies, human tragedies continue to happen. No system can take away the inherent fallibility of the natural world. It is also an apt metaphor for troubles which exist in our unconscious, which are not visible to us, which we have no way to examine, which exist unknown to us.


It is an extremely modern motion picture. Almost everybody is economically free and secure, even a streetside flute player who sleeps on the pavement has no fear of his flute getting stolen when he takes off for a night, leaving his flute behind.

In this milieu of freedom and aloneness and security and anonymity, where affairs can go on without anyone noticing, where nobody knows where you live, and nobody asks, where you have no real friends, and violence, birth and death are seen coldly, with detachment, there is a certain aseptic sterility to life. This is a very "cold" movie, accentuated by the proliferation of the colour blue throughout.

A woman who works as an erotic dancer and as a prostitute is free to do what she pleases in life. There is a threat to her freedom, but in a very modern statement, the threat, unless it is unanimous and endorsed by all, is not valid. This is the freedom to be unpopular, and not the democratic freedom of the twentieth century. But her freedom is deceptive. She can't sleep alone, by herself, and is tormented by the sight of her father at the erotic dance bar.

The unrelatedness of the inmates of the apartment complex is striking. Nobody really knows anybody there. The self-immersion is brought into sharp focus when a helpless man, being kicked by thugs, knocks on many doors but none opens. Like Julie, everybody must have been awake, but nobody chooses to open their door. When in trouble, we have nowhere to turn to. We expect the system to take care of sorrow and loneliness, but that never works. The mother of Julie is probably living in some retirement community, and she spends her time watching adventure sports on TV. The sterility and dispassion of the world makes people indulge in bungee jumping and drag racing just to get their blood to flow, for their blood to turn red from its bluish lack of life.

There is a boy who is spending his time playing with a balancing toy, and just as he manages to balance it, something much bigger crashes nearby. He is alone, and he also searches for Julie, to return her necklace. But Julie doesn't take it, it is worthless to her now. And he , in love of her, wears that feminine necklace on his neck. We live with our memories and the symbols of past or imagined happiness when we are alone. Julie has a lover, who keeps a discarded mattress on which he first made love with her. As long as we have a symbol of a relationship, the relationship is alive, if only in our hearts. That is why Julie, to start a new life, sells or throws away everything she owns, except a blue hanging lamp. She tries to destroy it first, by pulling on one of the strings. But keeps it in the end. It is this last remnant of her old life which keeps her alive, it is as if her life is in those blue crystals. Why does she keep that memento? What does it signify?

We are always afraid to completely let go of something, and there is a part of us which can never completely get over any experience in our lives, we never seem to die in our lives, we are shaped by what we have been. Julie is alone, she is determined, but she keeps a vestige of her past with her. As the Zen koan says: "A bull crashes through a window. Its head, body and legs come crashing through, but not its tail. Why?"

(to be continued)

Recommendation: Must see.

1 comment:

Katarzyna said...

Quality review and some really deep thoughts...Thank you for that..."Blue" has always been a sort of a mirror I would watch myself in and reflect on...
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