Fearful Symmetry

Film. Books. Comics. TV. Music.

Three Colours: Blue, Three Colours: White and Three Colours: Red

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Three Colours: Blue had always been for me one of those universally acknowledged film greats that I’d not got around to seeing. In fact watching yet another of those countdown clips show on great movies I was struck by the fact that it was the only movie near the top of the list that I had not seen. So I watched it and was sufficiently impressed to watch the rest of the three colours trilogy. Taken together the films really are a masterpiece – although perhaps harder to analyse than most, as they work in the emotions rather than the intellect. Named after the colours of the French flag they represent the spirit of liberty, equality and fraternity – as well as strongly featuring the colour of its title in its costumes and set design. Each one stars a breathtaking European woman (though the middle film, White is from the perspective of her admirer), who each make brief appearances in the other films.



In Blue, Juliette Binoche tries to overcome the emotional impact of a devastating car accident that left her husband and daughter dead. Her face appears blank but the trauma is etched deep into it; the deep blue of sadness. However out of the dark comes eventual light, as Binoche literally swims up out of her troubles, as she takes up her husband’s work as a composer (or was she the composer in the first place?). This is clearly the highlight of the series but the others should not be dismissed.

White is a lighter film that the other two, supposedly a comedy, though the laughs are not always very obvious and very dark. In fact the whole thing has a rather chilly tone, with its snowscapes and ice. A Polish hairdresser tries to patch things up with his French wife who wants a divorce leading to desperate dealing with criminals. The ending is a very bitter-sweet surprise.



Red is undercut with passion and anger as two stories interact. Irene Jacob, a model in Geneva, comes into the orbit of a retired judge who spends his time spying on people. She begins an odd but deep friendship with him. While in the background two lovers live their own story. The stories intersect with lasting consequences for all concerned. And the whole trilogy is summed up at the end of this film.

These films were Krzysztof Kieslowski’s last works. What a high to go out on.


Written by Fearful Symmetry

June 29, 2009 at 2:48 pm

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