Trois Couleurs: Bleu

Monday, 21 November 2011

trois couleurs: bleu

trois couleurs: bleu

trois couleurs: bleu

trois couleurs: bleu

trois couleurs: bleu

trois couleurs: bleu

trois couleurs: bleu

trois couleurs: bleu

trois couleurs: bleu

trois couleurs: bleu

trois couleurs: bleu

trois couleurs: bleu

trois couleurs: bleu

trois couleurs: bleu

trois couleurs: bleu

trois couleurs: bleu

trois couleurs: bleu

trois couleurs: bleu

trois couleurs: bleu

trois couleurs: bleu

trois couleurs: bleu

I realise I do go on about my favourite director, Krzysztof Kieslowski, quite a bit. But yesterday, when I was re-watching Trois Couleurs: Bleu, it occurred to me that I've never actually reviewed it, which is odd. I think there are certain films that you just love so much, and have so much to say about, that it seems impossible to explain your fervour. Something sort of clicked in my brain yesterday, which I have to attempt to put into words.

If you're unfamiliar with Kieslowski's Three Colours Trilogy, Trois Couleurs: Bleu explores the concept of freedom, following the symbolism of the colour blue borrowed from the French flag, which represents Liberté. One of Kieslowski's gifts as a director is his ability to personalise and individualise political, collective and national concepts. In Bleu, freedom is explored through the narrative of a woman who loses her family. Julie, the wife of a French composer, is involved in a tragic car accident that kills her husband and daughter. After unsuccessfully trying to commit suicide, she decides that the only way she can cope with life is by attaining "freedom". She cuts herself off from all the people and places she has known, and seeks to become free of emotional and personal ties.

Julie's problem is that she fashions freedom as a loss. While this is governed by her grief, Kieslowski demonstrates that such an insular concept of freedom is ultimately unattainable and unrealistic. Life connects you with the people around you, whether you like it or not. Friends, family, lovers all creep under your skin, forming your sense of self. Julie cannot escape attachment to people, no matter how hard she tries. Rather, what she learns by the end of the film is that freedom is actually about being tied, wholeheartedly and sincerely, to people.

As I was thinking about this yesterday, Miranda July came into my head. Or, more precisely, the criticism which is heaped upon her. I know a lot of people find her unbearably pretentious, representing a type of boho preciousness. I obviously don't feel that way myself, and I'm quite baffled by the level of vitriolic hate she seems to attract. To me, July's work represents a search for connection and an authentic sincerity that I know makes a lot of people uncomfortable. It's this same sincerity that I think is at the heart of Bleu. In fact, I think these words about July seem to sum up what Kieslowski attempts to do in Bleu:

It’s odd that she has come to represent, for some, a kind of soulless hipster cool, because in July’s work, nobody is cool. There’s no irony to it, no insider wink. Her characters are ordinary people whose lives don’t normally invite investigation. So her project is the opposite of hipster exclusion: her work is desperate to bring people together, forcing them into a kind of fellow feeling. She’s unrelentingly sincere, and maybe that sincerity makes her difficult to bear. It also might make her culturally essential. (Quote from The New York Times profile.)

I have to agree. It is almost unbearable to be confronted with such a sincerity, with such an absolute probing of how and why we connect with other fellow beings. It's much easier to retreat into Julie's self-contained blue washes of cool cynicism. But Kieslowski shows us that such a "coolness" is brittle, and ultimately collapses under the weight of our needs as human beings. The true beauty of Kieslowski's films is their kindness.


Nancy Baric *negfilm said...

oh i haven't thought about this film in ages...and i love kieslowski...thanks for the reminder...;))

Melancholy Swan said...

I loved the series, but blue was the one that stayed with me.

Ana said...

I love that trilogy and your review made me want to see it again.

I've just saw Miranda July's The Future and liked it btw.

Have a nice day Hila! x

Sam said...

I am, unabashedly, a Miranda July fan. I think that her sincerity is especially uncomfortable because it's combined with the participatory nature of her writing style and art projects. She often writes with the "you" tense, right down to her titles (Me and You and Everyone We Know, ect), and projects like "heavy things" at MOCA.

I'm always reminded of her when people say they dislike someone because "they can't actually be THAT nice."

I've head a lot about 3 colors. I'll have to rent it. Another great interdisciplinary connection, Hila.

Hotly Spiced said...

I love that trilogy of movies. Studied them in film school. Brilliant!

hungryandfrozen said...

I actually am not familiar with Miranda July's work, although I know who she is, so I couldn't really say. The screencaps look beautiful though...

Maša said...

I must admit I don't remember the coffee scenes. It's been years since my last watch but it surprises me all the same. :)

KAAM {hand-made} said...

after this post I will have to watch Niebieski (blue in polish) tonight!

Alexandre Fabbri said...

Kieslowski's films mean something different everytime they are viewed because, in between viewings, one's life has changed and the way one perceives life.

Alexandre Fabbri

Diana Sudyka said...

Thank you for posting about Bleu. It's a very favorite film that still haunts. I've wondered about its power to linger, and I think you pointed it out beautifully. It's Kieslowski's kindness and humanity. Julie's Binoche's luminous performance doesn't hurt either. Thanks again. Fantastic blog.

Amelia said...

I am so adding this to my to watch movie list. I don't know if you watched I am love, but it also deals with freedom in some ways. It's a beautiful movie and I truly recommend it.

Sasha said...

Intriguing. I must admit I've never heard of this film. It sounds like it would be worth a watch!

BK Punia said...

How interesting! I must watch. Freedom is a concept that I have been trying to define for many years, and at first I thought that isolating myself from others would make me happier, but that didn't work - of course. Certainly, I am expecting to see some of my personal truths reflected in this film and in Julie's revelations. Thank you for another interesting review.

odessa said...

i have yet to watch all 3 -- and i have them, because i'm "babysitting" a friend's DVD collection while she is out of the country. this will be on my list for winter break, for sure.

also, i love miranda july and i never knew that she's been a target of these negative comments lately. hmmmm...that is very interesting.

heleen said...

Your movie reviews are always such a delight to read. I think it's beautiful how you're able to sketch the visual qualities of a film with mere words, as well as summarize its content AND offer a more in-depth analysis of philo- or ideological themes that run beneath the aesthetic surface. I also read your article on female abuse on the internet, and I think it's an utter disgrace that women with strong opinions are still criticised and, even worse, physically threatened. It's seems medieval, almost, to express crude judgment based solely on gender distinction... Anyway, that brings me to another topic: I still need to thank you FROM THE BOTTOM OF MY HEART for the response my e-mail. It's already been of tremendous help. My library had a copy of Mellor's book to offer so I'm entirely immersed in that right now. We never encountered the term 'domestic sublime' in class which means there's a collosal scope of information has opened up for me, and the available material is almost too much to deal with. I'm a bit upset I need to have this paper ready in exactly one week from now, because I feel like there are so many sub-themes and sidepaths I'd like to explore with it and the time limit just leaves me too little possibility to act accordingly. But, anyway, thank you again -- I might email you again later on, when I've advanced some more with my paper and the research and more questions have rised.
Take care! H

Satin and Souffles said...

I just rented the films haha!

Satin&Souffles xx

hila said...

nancy: go forth ad watch ;)

melancholy swan: it's one of the best representations of grief on screen, in my opinion.

ana: I can't wait to see The Future, it hasn't been released here in perth yet.

sam: I'm a fan too, I just don't get the hate. And plenty of people I know are that nice. Bilieve it or not, such people do exist :)

hitly spiced: yep, it seems like everybody studied this trilogy at university.

hungryandfrozen: then you have a whole new world to discover.

masa: the coffee scenes are actually the most memorable for me.

kaam: watching it in polish seems appropriate with kieslowski :)

alexandre: I totally agree.

diana: yes, Juliette Bincohe doesn't hurt at all!

amelia: I've watched I am Love, and I also reviewed it here.

sasha: it's definitely worth a watch.

bk punia: it usually doesn't work, no matter how hard we try.

odessa: have fun watching them, you'll love each film. Yeah, Miranda July has been getting quite a lot of hateful comments, plus I think there's a blog devoted to people who "hate" her. It's all a bit pathetic.

heleen: I'm so glad my email helped, and good luck with your paper! If you have any more questions, I'm happy to answer them. Thank you for your kind words too.

satin and souffles: have fun watching them.

Siubhan said...

Fascinating thoughts. Bleu is the only one of the trilogy I've seen (mainly because I love Juliette Binoche) but it was a while ago, so I should watch it again. I like what you say about freedom from everything being impossible, because you have to connect one way or another.

I recently watched Me, You and Everyone We Know, and I liked it, but what you (and the NYT) say about Miranda July trying desperately to connect things and people together in a really basic way, really makes me think about it in a different way.

MANDY said...

I adore this film and the whole trilogy ... Juliette Binoche is one of all time favorite actresses ... we saw her dance at The Sydney Opera House a few years ago and I was quite starstruck !!!
I really must watch this again

Maša said...

hila, do you drink coffee? I've been thinking ... maybe I didn't memorize them because I didn't drink coffee when I was younger and I couldn't relate in the same way I could today. :)

yelena bryksenkova said...

when i first watched the trilogy, i remember that "blanc" charmed me the most, but "bleu" stayed with me visually more than the other two. i should watch them again to see how my perception might have changed.

lovely review, hila. you write like flowing water. you said that recently somebody said that you speak like you write, and i think that was definitely a compliment.

from a smelly bus on its way to new york city,


hila said...

siubhan: yeah, I guess that's how I ultimately view July's work: as a desire for connection. And I'm so annoyed that she's targeted for so much vile hate. Of all the people in the world to rant about, seriously.

I loved Binoche in this film too, I think it's one of her best performances.

mandy: really? I had no idea she did that, sounds amazing. What did she dance?

masa: coffee and I have a lifelong love affair :)

yelena: hope you're enjoying iceland, now that you're no longer on a smelly bus to New York :) and thanks so much for the compliment.

Caro said...

I so want to watch these. Too many beautiful films, such little time.

hila said...

that's pretty much my motto at the moment caro.

Katarina said...

This has always been my favourite from the trilogy, and one of my fav films of all times. Thanks for reminding me, I might re-watch it tonight :)

hila said...

katarina: it's one of my favourite films of all time too.

andrea despot said...

I know I'm behind in commenting, but I took a break from blogging and now I'm back trying to catch up. Your blog is actually my very last one to catch up on and it's because it's my favorite (yes, really) and I feel that I always need to savor your words and images; save the best for last. I need to give myself time to enjoy them rather than rushing through to just get through.

Anyway, I watched "Bleu" a few months ago after seeing you mention the trilogy on here. I watched all three actually and every time I try to decide which is my favorite, I can't. There was so much I loved about all three. I loved the women, their stories, the styling, the colors. Which is odd. I'm usually very good at picking out my favorite of things, but this is impossible.

And I love your screen captures! So much bleu! Gosh, you're making want to watch them all over again...

hila said...

andrea: oh thank you! that's so sweet :)