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Three Colors: Blue

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Blue is the English language title of the 1993 French language film, Bleu (available with English subtitles).

Co-written, produced, and directed by Krzysztof Kieslowski, Blue is the first in the Three Colors trilogy, followed by White and Red.

Three Colors: Blue:

STARRING:

  1. Juliette Binoche: "Julie Vignon - de Courcy"
  2. Benoit Régent[?]: "Olivier Benoit"
  3. Charlotte Very[?]: "Lucille"
  4. Emmanuelle Riva[?]: Madame Vignon (Julie's mother)
  5. Florence Pernel[?]: "Sandrine"

AWARDS:

  • Venice Film Festival, 1993: Best Film and Juliette Binoche, Best Actress, Best Cinematography: Slawomir Idziak
  • Cesar Award, 1993: Best Actress: Juliette Binoche, Best Sound, Best Film Editing
  • Goya Awards[?] (Spain's Academy Awards): Best European Film

Writer/director Krzysztof Kieslowski's trilogy was made back-to-back beginning in 1993. Each of the films takes its name from the colors of the French flag and its themes from the ideals represented by those colors as defined during the French Revolution:

  1. Bleu/Blue -- liberty
  2. Blanc/White -- equality
  3. Rouge/Red -- friendship

The motion picture "Blue" is a complex psychological study. In it, the story of liberty is set in Paris where Julie, the wife of famous composer, Patrice de Courcy, must cope with his and their five-year-old daughter's death in an automobile accident, one that she wishes she too had not survived. While recovering in hospital, her initial thought is to take her own life by swallowing a handful of painkillers stolen from the hospital's medicine chest. From that point on, her days are devoted to committing mental suicide, by disassociating herself from all past memories and getting rid of all reminders including the destruction of her late husband's last composition, a piece commissioned for the celebration of the European Union.

Despite her desires to shrink into nothingness, merely existing forces Julie to confront certain elements of her past that she would rather not face. Along the way, she befriends Lucille, a prostitute/stripper who lives downstairs from her; falls in love with Olivier, her late husband's aide (who kept the mattress); and helps Sandrine, her late husband's mistress of whom she knew nothing and who is carrying his child.

"Blue" is a movie that is impossible for most anyone to fully understand with only one viewing. Its many layers force the viewer to think. Visually, the director uses many techniques to portray the sense of loss and Julie's internal conflict. As Julie watches from her hospital bed the funeral for her husband and daughter, the dark shadow of her finger caresses the tiny casket on the screen. Once out of hospital, she begins to swim alone in a darkened pool and each time the pain overwhelms her, she rushes to swim, pushing herself to the limit, trying to force away the memories. The key to understanding the story is the meaning of its color which Kieslowski said in its modern context does not treat liberty in a social or political way, but as the liberty of life itself.

The film sets the story for the remainder of Kieslowski's trilogy by using cross-references to the other "colors." In one scene, children dressed in white bathing suits with red floaters jump into the blue swimming pool while in another, Julie is seen accidentally entering a courtroom where the main Polish character of "White" is pleading his innocence. "Red" is seen in Paris's prostitute neighborhood near Pigalle, a seething neon strip of lurid clubs, run-down shoppefronts and grimy porn cinemas, all flashing brillant red lights, peddling the world's most reliable merchandise - sex.

"Blue" is a powerful motion picture that will dramatically impact most viewers. Through its use of color, in addition to blue filters and blue lighting, many small, almost innocuous objects are blue. By the text of the haunting music around which the film revolves, Julie will heal and events will bring her back to the land of the living. The words to the music by Zbigniew Preisner, are taken from 1 Corinthians 13:1-13 of the Bible. Blue light, representing Julie's past, creeps in around her at several points throughout the film, accompanied by her husband's haunting music that adds something overridingly powerful to the visualizations to create a fourth color: Love.

A number of critics rank this as one of the great motion pictures of all time. Marjorie Baumgarten, of the "Austin Chronicle" said: "Blue is a movie that engages the mind, challenges the senses, implores a resolution, and tells, with aesthetic grace and formal elegance, a good story and a political allegory." Roger Ebert calls "Blue" (and the entire trilogy) a masterpiece.

1 Corinthians, 13:1-13:
Song for the Unification of Europe - Zbigniew Preisner
CHORUS:

Though I speak with the tongues of angels,
If I have not love...
My words would resound with but a tinkling of a cymbal.

And though I have the gift of prophecy...
And understand all mysteries...
and all knowledge...
And though I have all faith
So that I could remove mountains,
if I have not love...
I am nothing.

Love is patient, full of goodness;
Love tolerates all things,
Aspires to all things,
Love never dies,
while the prophecies shall be done away,
tongues shall be silenced,
knowledge shall fade...
thus then shall linger only
faith, hope, and love...
but greatest of these...
is love.



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