Documentary filmmaker by training, Krzysztof Kieslowski had expressed an array of moral themes through female beauty at least since his Decalogue television series (1988). International audiences first saw his eye for detail and its power to render inscrutable concepts in 1991’s The Double Life of Veronique. The film follows the lives of two women at their crossroads, each played by Irene Jacob: Veronique, who makes the necessary compromises and lives, and Weronika, who flies too close to the sun and falls:
In Blue, the fist installment of the three-color trilogy (1993-1994), Kieslowski works with the earthy Juliette Binoche. The hardness of her character lets her survive a horror that would have destroyed a weaker woman, but the story is about her letting go of her pride to find grace in humility:
In White, Julie Delpy’s angelic radiance belies her cruelty. An even more cruel comeuppance makes her a woman again. In this flashback scene, she’s downright beatific:
Red once again features Irene Jacob personifying feminine selflessness. As I mentioned in an earlier post, there is a scene in which Jacob’s character tells her confidante, a cynical retired judge, that her younger brother is a heroin addict and she wants to help. His advice to her: Être. Just be. She’s confused by his answer, so he repeats: être. As I also noted then, this is not over.
Each of the installments of the trilogy focuses on its respective theme liberté, égalité, and fraternité. That said, I see another dimension to Kieslowski’s nominally Revolutionary themes: a vision that a reunified Europe had an opportunity to become whole by reconciling its humane but frivolous half with its spiritually raw, debased other half.
Short-term, things have worked out a bit differently, but the trilogy ends on a prophecy. Foreshadowing the present cataclysm, the events in Red culminate with a tempest and a new day for its survivors.