My Thoughts on Kieslowski’s “Three Colours” Trilogy

An iconic image from the third instalment of Kieslowski's trilogy

I’ve always been interested in French cinema, from the comedic and sweet (Amelie) to the disturbing and tragic (Irreversible). I thought it was finally time I catch up with some more, and decided to acquaint myself with Kieslowski and his famous Three Colours (or Trois Couleurs, if you prefer) trilogy.

For those of you who are unaware of the trilogy, it is a series of three seemingly unrelated films named for the colours of the French flag (Blue for Liberty, White for Equality and Red for Fraternity)  which study contemporary French society through the eyes of a lonely widow, a desperate hairdresser and a curious model, respectively. It is an excellent and intriguing trilogy which kept my full attention the whole time, and after Red’s fabulous final scene, I wanted to go back and watch the whole trilogy once more. Which I did.

Blue tells of the sad, lonely woman (Juliette Binoche) whose husband and daughter have just died in a tragic car accident. Binoche’s character is confused, alone and estranged amongst society, at first repressing emotions and struggling to figure out what to do. However, a few chance encounters with a few certain people change the way she thinks about her husband and herself.

White tells of the homesick Polish hairdresser Karol Karol, whose wife has just divorced him simply because he can’t get it up. He is alone and questioning; without his wife his life means nothing. His wife frames him for burning down a building, and so, with the police searching for him and without a passport, he very creatively sends himself back to Warsaw. It is a common love story, but a unique and touching one.

Red tells of the model (Irene Jacob) who, after running over a dog stumbles into the world of a lonely, voyeuristic old man who eavesdrops on his neighbour’s conversations. Their quirky but poignant relationship leads them along an unpredictable plot; a journey of discovery, whilst simultaneously we are presented with the story of a young law student who discovers his girlfriend is cheating on him. Red is certainly stronger and more powerful than the others, and that’s not just because of the final scene, but rather because of the way it presents us with its story, which is unique and unlike its predecessors. There is some sort of magic in the air here, faint but strong, which leads us along a magical path to the other side, a mixture of utopian fantasy and dystopian reality.

Disaster strikes in some form at various moments without the trilogy, and forces us to step back and examine the wreckage (whether real or metaphorical), and contemplate on how this affects us, how these films have affected us, and how these films could affect others. Kieslowski certainly knows how to tell a story, and we have him to thank for this amazing, enduring tale.

About Tyler

Patient observer of all things film and music, from Béla Tarr to Boards of Canada. Foul mouthed and clinging to the edge of sanity.

Posted on March 10, 2011, in Filmmakers, Movie Reviews, Movies and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. I absolutely LOVE these films! Red was the first of the trilogy that I saw and I remember being riveted from start to finish. The story, the acting, the cinematography, and even the music all worked in perfect harmony. Kieslowski is a fascinating filmmaker. I am amazed at how he can do so much with so little. He can tell a complete story in under 2 hours and with minimal dialogue. There are no wasted moments in any of his films. If I had to rank these films, I would say that White is my least favorite (yet it’s still excellent!) while Red and Blue would be tied for first. Have you seen The Double Life of Veronique or The Decalogue? They are also well worth watching. It’s a pity that Kieslowski died at such a relatively young age. Much like Scorsese or Eastwood, it would have been interesting to see how his films would have evolved as he matured.


    • I have yet to see The Decalogue, but I have seen Veronique. It was excellent. When I reached the end of “Red” I almost cried, partly because it was so perfect, and partly because I knew that such a talented guy would never make another movie. RIP, Kieslowski.

  2. If you get a chance, try to track dowm Kieslowski on Kieslowski. Very good read!

  1. Pingback: My Top 100 Favourite Movies (80-61) « Southern Vision: A Blog About Movies

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