Three Colors Blu-ray review

            Certain filmmakers will forever be synonymous with their home country, almost as though they are ambassadors of the arts for their native home. Even when they leave to make films elsewhere, they shine like international stars but are forever tied to the country they came from. Ingrid Bergman will forever be tied to Swedish cinema, exalted for the way he elevated films both nationally and internationally. The same can easily be said of Krysztof Kieślowski and Polish cinema, and the Three Colors trilogy was his crowning achievement in a flawless career.

            After tackling the Ten Commandments in his 10-part TV film series, The Decalogue, Kieślowski was no stranger to themed narratives which also connect with each other. His decision to end his career with three films with themes based on the three colors of the French flag was a much simpler endeavor, though this merely allowed the filmmaker more freedom for attention to detail. The magnitude of detail already found in The Decalogue is astounding and endlessly thought-provoking, and Three Colors is nothing short of a masterpiece.

            Loosely based on the three colors of the French flag; red, white and blue, each of the colors has a national meaning. Blue stands for liberty, though the context is quite unexpected in the film Blue (1993). Liberty comes to our protagonist Julie (Juliette Binoche) when she loses her husband and child in a tragic car accident, surviving herself with healable wounds and a freedom to start her life over again. Visually stunning and immaculately acted, Blue is a brilliant piece of cinema.

            The second film, White, is a revenge comedy with unexpected and delightful twists and turns. While not directly political, White also has an interesting message with the theme being equality. Our protagonist is Karol Karol (Zbigniew Zamachowski), a Polish hairdresser who has married a French woman and moved to France only to find that he has become impotent and ridiculed by his wife. After she throws him out on the street, Karol desperately finds a way back to his home country with the intention of building himself a new life for a way to get back at his French wife (Julie Delpy). 

            The final film in the trilogy also ends in a way which ties all three together and suggests a happy ending for each. Red stands for fraternity, and it is a film about unlikely friendships. Valentine (Iréne Jacob) is a runway model with a jealousy driven long-distance relationship and endless work responsibilities. When she runs over a dog and takes him to the owner, Valentine makes an unlikely friendship with a retired judge (Jean-Louis Trintignant) with the habit of eavesdropping on his neighbors.

            All three films have been put together in a box set for the Blu-ray release, along with a spectacular booklet with essays by film critics Colin McCabe, Nick James, Stuart Klawans and Georgina Evans. There is also an excerpt from the book “Kieślowski on Kieślowski” and reprinted interviews with the cinematographers, Idziak, Edward Kłosiński and Piotr Sobociński. The special features on the discs include three spectacular cinema lessons with Kieślowski, new interviews with longtime writer/collaborator Krystof Piesiewicz, composer Zbigniew Preisner and actors Julie Delpy, Iréne Jacob, and Zbigniew Zamachowski. Blue also has select scene commentary with Juliette Binoche. More than the discussion of the film by those involved, there are many features with others praising them, including video essays for each of the films and a full-length documentary featuring Kieślowski. Three of the filmmaker’s short films are also included; The Tram (1966), Seven Women of Different Ages (1978) and Talking Heads (1980).

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