La Double Vie de Véronique

Sunday, 17 April 2011

la double vie de véronique

la double vie de véronique

la double vie de véronique

la double vie de véronique

la double vie de véronique

la double vie de véronique

la double vie de véronique

la double vie de véronique

la double vie de véronique

la double vie de véronique

la double vie de véronique

la double vie de véronique

la double vie de véronique

la double vie de véronique

la double vie de véronique

la double vie de véronique

la double vie de véronique

Anyone who knows me is familiar with my fascination with Krzysztof Kieslowski’s film, La Double Vie de Véronique. I must have mentioned it numerous times on this blog, and I’ve watched it more times. Last night, as I was writing, I was suddenly struck with a detail that revealed to me part of the reason for my fascination with the film.

In my family, there is a type of ritual associated with the process of opening old photo albums and gazing at photographs. The feeling that I have when undertaking such a ritual is similar to the one I feel when watching La Double Vie de Véronique. Only it goes deeper than that, in a curious mix of the personal and the critical. Last night, I found the vocabulary to express this curious feeling when Roland Barthes’s book on photography, Camera Lucida, popped into my mind as I was writing on a completely different topic.

In Camera Lucida, Barthes discusses the difference between what he calls the “studium” and the “punctum” of a photograph. The studium refers to the cultural, ideological, or political level of a photograph, while the punctum refers to the personal, touching and individual aspect of a photograph. To me, watching La Double Vie de Véronique is like feeling the studium and punctum of the imagery within the film collide, intermix and become something completely different through their intermingling. It’s as if the political and national undertones of the film are given such a personal and individual sense of nostalgia, that they create their own cinematic language. Coloured in sepia tones and golden washes, the images of the film already speak of nostalgia and a sense of distance that comes with viewing images within a photo album. Only here, this nostalgia is coupled with unspoken political messages established through Weronika and Véronique’s inexplicable bond across Poland and France.

There is probably no better example of this than the scene where Weronika first views her French double, Véronique, amidst a political demonstration. Somehow, the tone of this revelation of her non-biological twin would not be as deeply touching and strange were it not set against such obvious national and ideological turmoil. This is what moves me about certain photographs and images: the sense of ourselves that is revealed to an imaginary audience as a small piece of history; the idea that even a tiny gesture or glance has significance as a wider narrative. It’s the same type of reflection I enter into when I stare at a particular photograph in a museum for ages, trying to understand why I can’t stop looking at it. So maybe I’ve uncovered a bit of what makes this film so interesting to me. But I suspect there’s more.

P.S. In case you missed it, please vote for me.


jodeska said...

I love this post so much. I haven't heard of Barthes before but I love the idea of “studium” and the “punctum”. This is definitely change the way I look at images and art now.

If Jane said...

ah yes...but love that barthes offers the co-existence of the public and private and the shift between the two. three things: i actually missed a talk with kieslowski, must re-watch this film (haven't seen it in ages!) and now i am inspired to re-read some walter benjamin...;))

Deleilan said...

Isn't it fascinating that we can still discover and understand new aspects of even the most familiar things? It was wonderful to read how you suddenly made connections while writing about something quite different!

(Now I must add this movie to my list...)

MANDY said...

I remember loving this film ... but now I want to watch it again ..... Oh and I just voted for you !!!

Caitlin Rose said...

Oh I'll have to watch this, it looks really interesting. I vaguely remember learning about Bartes theory of in camera lucida in school, but I love how you've applied it so perfectly to this film.

mnemonique said...

this is a cult movie, here in Poland, and you write about it in a beautiful way. I love how you associate this movie with your photograph ritual. I send you hugs!

Tana said...

i love that idea,you wrote such an interesting post. the film is simply amazing!

odessa said...

voting done! best of luck.
i haven't seen this film yet. i really need to. thanks for your beautiful review.

Tracey said...

Oh lovely, a beautifully written and introspective post set against the backdrop of a stunning film.

PS. I hope you win! :D

andrea despot said...

this is definitely one of those movies that i need to watch again! and again and again. that moment when she first sees her double took my breath away... you did a lovely way of describing this aspect of the movie, in a way i hadn't thought of before.

Niina said...

I also love this film and specifically the color has something to do with that.
your recipe "a curious mix of the personal and the critical" is something I wish people would write more about, it´s difficult but gratifying. I have also read Barthes (mainly The Pleasure of the Text) lately because I think it has something to do with my masters´thesis and because I love that book. And if you like meaningful glances, have you seen Ingmar Bergman´s Persona? For some reason it popped into my mind while reading your text :-)

tc said...

my goodness! i am most humbled by your kind comment on my blog... thank you thank you!!

i've have not seen this film but have studied barthes a little and you've made such a interesting case for the film ... i must rent it! as always, thanks for posting!

naomemandeflores said...

I recently watched this movie for the second time and it made so much more sense to me now than when I watched for the first time, when I was only 17. Great movie.

I remember reading Roland Barthes in the university and loving it. At that time, the book (A Câmara Clara, in portuguese) was sold out, so I scanned the whole thing and printed. I still have that "copy".

Oh, and I just voted for you. Good luck!

Camila F.

Molly said...

Ah… astounding. I am always so intrigued by your film reflections, and this one especially as you share your newfound discoveries in one so well known to you. This concept of certain emotional attachments to photographs is new to me, and the way you've applied them to the film and everyday life is truly fascinating! Thank you for this. And the stills are simply gorgeous. :)

PS. Thank you for the birthday well wishes! And I just voted, best of luck!

Olga said...

I like it when you return to certain subjects again. For me, it's a sign that you don't put and to a subject, but you continue exploring it. We change as people, and our points of view on these subjects also change. It's a wonderful post.

Siubhan said...

How interesting. I love the idea of breaking down a photograph in that way.

This film pops up every so often, and I always think I would like to watch it, but I haven't got any further than that yet! The screengrabs are beautiful though, so I really ought to try.

Julie Khuu said...

Owow these stills are stunning! Something so hauntingly magical about the relationship between the two...I have never heard of the film but will definitely look into it...Thanks for sharing!

Btw, Haute Khuuture just turned 1 so in honour of the birthday I'm hosting my first HUGE giveaway! Would love for you to stop by when you get the chance :D

Happy Tuesday!


Haute Khuuture Blog

Ella said...

your reviews are always so promising! must watch!

fauns and ferns said...

this is my favorite film, absolutely favorite. this and 'blue' make for a perfect rainy afternoon. thanks for reminding me*

hila said...

Thank you for the votes everyone, please do keep them coming!

jodeska: glad you like it! you should give Barthes a go, he's one of the more lucid french critics, in my opinion.

if jane: yep, barthes always sees things in all their connectedness. and you actually had a chance to see kieslowski speak?!! I would have loved to see him, he's my favourite director.

deleilan: I love it when random things pop into my head when I'm writing. I always forget to write half of them down though, and I end up kicking myself.

mandy: thanks for the vote! and I think most people love this film :)

caitlin rose: it's one of my favourite books on photography.

mnemonique: thank you! I imagine it must be a huge cult movie in Poland, it's also a cult movie amongst anyone who has studied European Studies at university, including me :)

tana: thank you!

odessa: thanks so much for voting, and it's my pleasure!

tracey: thanks! and I hope I win too, although realistically, I don't think I will (my competition is actual famous people). Still, fingers crossed :)

andrea: thank you! I've seen this film so many times, and I still find new things about it.

niina: I saw persona a really long time ago, I think I need to revisit it, so thanks for reminding me. What's your masters' thesis on? and also, I do find that a lot of people are reluctant to talk about the relationship between the critical and the personal, mainly because we're still holding on to the fiction of "objectivity". I think it's an interesting topic too.

tc: my pleasure, I meant it, I always mean what I say :) and yes, do watch it when you get the chance.

camila: we've all done that with books at uni, mainly when we're broke. but shh, don't tell the librarians ;) and I agree, this is definitely a movie that is better understood the second time round - I didn't get it at all on my first viewing, and like you, I was very young too (18).

molly: thanks so much for saying so molly, I often wonder if my reflections are too obscure or strange to share with people, but this kind of feedback makes me feel better. and thanks for the vote!

olga: I so agree, and I'm a little surprised whenever I discover that I have changed a bit, that my perspective has shifted.

siubhan: yes, do give it a try, it's one of the best films out there in my opinion.

julie: thank you!

ella: aw, thanks :)

fauns and ferns: mine too, my absolute favourite, ever. I love 'blue' too, but my favourite from the 'three colours' trilogy is 'red'.