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Three Colors: Blue, White, Red (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]

Three Colors: Blue, White, Red (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]

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    This boldly cinematic trio of stories about love and loss from Krzysztof Kieślowski (The Double Life of Véronique) was a defining event of the art-house boom of the 1990s. The films were named for the colors of the French flag and stand for the tenets of the French Revolution—liberty, equality, and fraternity—but this hardly begins to explain their enigmatic beauty and rich humanity. Set in Paris, Warsaw, and Geneva, and ranging from tragedy to comedy, Blue, White, and Red (Kieślowski’s final film) examine with artistic clarity a group of ambiguously interconnected people experiencing profound personal disruptions. Marked by intoxicating cinematography and stirring performances by such actors as Juliette Binoche (Summer Hours), Julie Delpy (Before Sunset), Irène Jacob (The Double Life of Véronique), and Jean-Louis Trintignant (Z), Kieślowski’s Three Colors is a benchmark of contemporary cinema. Blue In the devastating first film of the Three Colors trilogy, Juliette Binoche gives a tour de force performance as Julie, a woman reeling from the tragic deaths of her husband and young daughter. But Blue is more than just a blistering study of grief; it’s also a tale of liberation, as Julie learns truths about her late composer husband’s life and attempts to free herself of the past. Shot in icily gorgeous tones by Sławomir Idziak (The Double Life of Véronique) and set to an extraordinary operatic score by Zbigniew Preisner (The Secret Garden), Blue is an overwhelming sensory experience. 1993 98 minutes Color 2.0 surround In French with English subtitles 1.85:1 aspect ratio White The most playful but also the grittiest of Kieślowski’s Three Colors films follows the adventures of Karol Karol (The Pianist’s Zbigniew Zamachowski), a Polish immigrant living in France. The hapless hairdresser opts to leave Paris for his native Warsaw after his wife (Julie Delpy) sues him for divorce (her reason: he was never able to perform in bed) and then frames him for arson after setting her own salon ablaze. White, which goes on to chronicle Karol Karol’s elaborate revenge plot, manages to be both a ticklish dark comedy about the economic inequalities of Eastern and Western Europe and a sublime reverie about twisted love. 1993 91 minutes Color 2.0 surround In French and Polish with English subtitles 1.85:1 aspect ratio Red Krzysztof Kieślowski closes his Three Colors trilogy in grand fashion with an incandescent meditation on fate and chance, starring Irène Jacob as a sweet-souled yet somber runway model in Geneva whose life intersects with that of a bitter retired judge, played by Jean Louis Trintignant. Their blossoming friendship forces each to open up in surprising emotional ways. Meanwhile, just down the street, a seemingly unrelated story of jealousy and betrayal unfolds. Red is an intimate look at forged connections and a splendid final statement from a remarkable filmmaker at the height of his powers. 1994 99 minutes Color 2.0 surround In French with English subtitles 1.85:1 aspect ratio .com ---- Even though one can view each segment of Krzysztof Kieslowski's Three Colors trilogy on its own, it seems absurd to do so; why buy the slacks instead of the entire suit? Created by Kieslowski and his writing partner Krzysztof Piesiewicz for France's bicentennial, the titles--and the themes of the films--come from the three colors of the French flag representing liberty, equality, and fraternity. Blue examines liberation through the eyes of a woman (Juliette Binoche) who loses her husband and daughter in an auto accident, and solemnly starts anew. White is an ironic comedy about a befuddled Polish husband (Zbigniew Zamachowski) who takes an odd path of revenge against his ex-wife (Julie Delpy). A Swiss model (Irène Jacob) strikes up a friendship with a retired judge (Jean-Louis Trintignant) who eavesdrops on his neighbors in Red. The trilogy is a snapshot of European life at a time of reconstruction after the Cold War, reflected through Kieslowski's moralist view of human nature and illumined by each title's palate color. The DVD set has numerous extras spread throughout the three discs; the end result is a superior collection. Each disc has a short retrospective, culled together from new interviews with Kieslowski's crew, plus film critic Geoff Andrew, biographer Annette Insdorf (who also does the commentaries), and fellow Polish director Ageniska Holland. Producer Marin Karmitz also reminisces about the experience. There's an exceptional effort to show the magic of Kieslowski (who died two years after the trilogy) through a discussion of his various career phases, interviews with the three lead actresses, four student films, and archival materials including simple--and wonderful--glimpses of the director at work. Excellent insight is also provided by Dominique Rabourdin's filmed "cinema lessons" with Kieslowski. Without viewing any of his other films, this set illustrates the uniqueness of Kieslowski. --Doug Thomas
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    Three Colors: Blue, White, Red (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]



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