Three Colors (Trois Coleurs) (1993-1994)

Directed by Krzysztof Kieslowski

As a general rule, trilogies are not good things. They tend to mean redundancy. They’re characterized by excess, repetition, unessential diversions and so on. And all of this tends to translate as dull. But.

There are exceptions. For example, the field of science fiction and fantasy is plagued by trilogies that bore the life out of you. But then there is Lord of the Rings. As Oscar Wilde said, to create a trilogy all that is required is a complete ignorance of art. But … then you get something like Krzysztof Kieslowski’s Three Colours trilogy, Blue, White and Red.

No one could accuse Kieslowski of being ignorant of art. It informs every frame of each of the three films that make up his triptych. The films work are many levels while also informing one another – yet none is dependent on the others. A neat trick, of you can manage it. And he does.

Taken from the colours of the French flag, the movies are about liberty (Blue), equality (White) and fraternity (Red). Yet they are not political films. They’re very intimate explorations of the human condition (apologies for using that horrible phrase).

One of the most pleasing accomplishments of the movies is the way they handle subjects and situations that are quite serious with a wry and dry humor (though sometimes it’s a bit dark). You get a very real sense the director loves his characters even though he’s unwilling to give them easy ways out of their problems.

For me, one of the other delights of the films is playful way Kieslowski handles narrative. There are little jokes hidden with the movies, small referential elements that don’t impede the stories but, for those paying attention, serve as small winks to the audience that say that you (the audience) and the director are involved in the movie together. It’s another way of showing intimacy, this time between you and Kieslowski.

And in the end, the final frames of Red, the last of the three films, Kieslowski returns the characters to us, literally from the sea. It’s almost as if, after such a long and often dark narrative journey, Kieslowski is saying it has all been a winding fable, and they all love happily ever after.

Three Colours Trilogy

© 2002 Piddleville Inc.

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