Krzysztof Kieslowski

The Three Colors Trilogy

Finally, the crown jewel of great Polish director Krzysztof Kieslowski life’s work has been released in DVD format, with loads of extras for the fanatical viewer. In these final three movies (made before he retired in 1994 and died two years later), the masterful director uses themes represented by the three colors of the French flag (Blue for “liberty,” White for “equality” and Red for “fraternity”) to tackle philosophical ideas and personalize them with mesmerizing, symbolic storytelling that combines the director’s hard-edged cynicism and fascination with accidents and fate with his profound humanity.

All three interweaving films are gorgeously shot and powerfully acted. Juliette Binoche is a grieving widow of a famous composer in the haunting Blue (one of the most emotionally complex representations of mourning I’ve seen on film); Julie Delphy plays a knockout French wife who leaves her husband in White (the darkly comic tale of a Polish barber’s revenge); and Irene Jacob carries Red, as a Swiss fashion model who finds herself in an intriguing relationship with a retired judge after hitting his dog with her car.

There’s a lot going on in all of these films—too much to address here—but let’s just say the DVDs offer the definitive versions, complete with fascinating extras. We get discussions from the actors on the collaborative nature of working with Kieslowski, cinema lessons with the director (who melded visual/audio elements and recurring symbolism almost seamlessly), numerous Kieslowski student films (Trolley, The Face, The Office), and poignant interviews with close friends and associates. Each disc features thoughtful, full-length commentary from Annette Insdorf, who has written a book on Kieslowski’s films and worked with him as a translator for years. There are behind the scenes films on the making of each movie and the usual host of audio commentary options.

As expected, the audio and picture quality are excellent throughout, extremely important when you consider how much the director used manipulated images and sounds to achieve desired effects. Taken as a whole, the Three Colors trilogy is undoubtedly a masterwork (while critics might argue that his earlier Decalogue remains his definitive series). Still, the ever-pondering Kieslowski left us with a lasting reminder of his artistic vision with these lush, deeply personal films that are a great addition to any film lover’s collection.