Saturday, October 04, 2014

Three Colors: Red

Directed by Krzysztof Kieslowski and written by Kieslowski and Krzysztof Piesiewicz, Trois Couleurs: Rouge (Three Colors: Red) is the third and final film of the Trois Couleurs trilogy where it explores the three colored symbols of the French flag. The film explores the theme of fraternity as a Swiss model meets a retired judge as she helps him while another story about a young judge is unfolding. Starring Irene Jacob, Jean-Pierre Lorit, Frederique Feder, and Jean-Louis Trintignant. Trois Couleurs: Rouge is a sensationally rich film from Krzysztof Kieslowski.

The film explores a model’s encounter with a retired judge after she accidentally ran over his dog where she deals with his bitter attitude as he often listens to people’s private conversations including a young man who is taking exams to be a judge. While the model Valentine (Irene Jacob) is aghast by his actions, she does help Joseph Kern (Jean-Louis Trintignant) find some redemption in an act of solidarity as Kern begins to reminisce about his own life as he ponders about the life of the young man named Auguste (Jean-Pierre Lorit) and the decisions he will make. All of which would play into the idea of fraternity where a woman helps a man to see the good in the world as he would see a young man who would take on the journey that would lead to regret and torment.

The film’s screenplay by Krzysztof Kieslowski and Krzysztof Piesiewicz doesn’t just explore the concept of fraternity but tell it in a very simple manner as Valentine is living in Geneva as her boyfriend is currently in London. Her relationship with her boyfriend starts to fall apart as she also worries about her younger brother who has been drifting around a drug addict. Upon her encounter with a dog named Rita, Valentine feels the need to help this dog and ensure its owner that the dog will be OK. Yet, the character of Joseph Kern is a man lost his own bitterness as he passes the time by eavesdropping on his neighbor’s phone conversations. Their encounters would have a profound effect on the two where Kern would do something about his illegal activities while Valentine tries to figure out her own life as she finds a companion of sorts in Kern. One aspect of the script that is unique is the dialogue where it adds a rapport to the relationship between Kern and Valentine.

Notably as the former is a man that has become cynical in the world as he starts to notice the life of Auguste which plays into the same scenario that Kern had been through. Kern would eventually tell Valentine the source of his cynicism just as he is starting to embrace a new lease on life and ensure Valentine of a world with new possibilities. The subplot involving Auguste as this young man who wants to become a judge showcases someone a young man who is unaware of being part of the same misfortunes that humiliated Kern yet what the script does is to see how Auguste would react to these situations and how he could move on from them.

Kieslowski’s direction is very entrancing for not just its simplicity in the way he presents the film but also in his approach to style that just makes the film very unique. The film opens with Valentine’s boyfriend calling her from London to Geneva as it features this very stylistic yet very fast shot of phone lines connecting from London to Geneva as it starts off stylistically. Still, Kieslowski manages to keep things simple with some amazing shots of the city of Geneva where he doesn’t go for landmarks but rather places that makes it feel like a community that is intimate but also quite vast. One of the aspects of Kieslowski’s vision that is very intoxicating is his approach to the use of anamorphic lenses where he slowly pans a scene to showcase the home that Kern lives in or the apartment that Valentine lives in.

That use of anamorphic lenses are among some of the stylistic moments in Kieslowski’s direction as it features a few elaborate tracking shots as well as crane shots to play into the drama. Even as it manages to not overwhelm the story while Kieslowski also uses some visual motifs that he would repeat from his previous film to link them for this trilogy. Notably a shot involving an elderly person trying to put a glass bottle into a recycling bin which had been shown in different forms in the previous films while it is shown once again in this one as it plays to the theme of fraternity. The film’s ending not only plays to the impact of fraternity but it would also combine the three themes of the entire trilogy as it would serve as a fitting end to everything that Valentine and Kern would go through. Overall, Kieslowki creates a very intoxicating yet enchanting film about a young woman who helps a reclusive and bitter man find a new lease on life.

Cinematographer Piotr Sobocinski does phenomenal work with the film‘s cinematography not just in its approach to interior lighting for some of the scenes in Valentine‘s modeling job but also in some of the interior settings as well as the use of the color red which becomes part of the film‘s visual motifs as Sobocinski‘s work is a major highlight. Editor Jacques Witta does brilliant work with the editing as it‘s very straightforward in the way it plays to some of the lighthearted moments while using some unique rhythms to play into its drama as the cutting also features bits of style that also plays into the drama. Production designer Claude Lenoir does fantastic work with the set pieces such as the home of Kern that is a bit shambolic in its look as well as the apartment that Valentine lives in.

The costumes by Corrine Jorry are terrific as it plays to the casual look of Kern as well as the more youthful yet fashionable clothes that Valentine wears. The sound work by Jean-Claude Larreux and mixer William Flageollet is amazing for the sound work from the frequency waves that occurs in the car radio and in Kern‘s stereo equipment to some of the sparse moments in the sound. The film’s music by Zbigniew Preisner is just absolutely magnificent for its bolero-inspired score with lush string arrangements and operatic orchestral arrangements as it plays to the drama along with some somber pieces as it is one of Preisner’s finest scores.

The casting by Margot Capelier is excellent as it features some notable small roles from Jean Schlegel as a neighbor of Kern’s, Teco Celio as a bartender at the bar that Valentine goes everyday, Paul Vermeulen as a friend of Auguste’s girlfriend Karin, and Samuel Le Bihan as a fashion photographer who often flirts with Valentine. Frederique Feder is terrific as Auguste’s girlfriend Karin who also does the weather report by phone as she would play a key role into Auguste’s fate. Jean-Pierre Lorit is superb as Auguste as a young man who is studying to become a judge as his personal life starts to unravel as it mirror the humiliation that Kern would go through as a young man.

Jean-Louis Trintignant is incredible as Joseph Kern as a retired judge whose bitterness towards the world has him becoming a recluse as he eavesdrops on neighbors phone conversations as he comes to term with what he lost and the reasons why he quit being a judge. Finally, there’s Irene Jacob in a remarkable performance as Valentine as this young student/model who is very friendly and kind as she tries to help a dog she accidentally runs over and meet its owner in Kern as she pities him for his own cynicism as it’s really one of her finest performances.

The 2003 Region 1 DVD from the Trois Couleurs box set from Miramax presents in its 1:85:1 theatrical aspect ratio in the widescreen format that is enhanced for 16x9 televisions with Dolby Digital Surround Sound in its French language with English subtitles. The DVD features a full-length audio commentary track from Kieslowski historian Annette Insdorf as she talks about the film’s ending as well as its ambiguities and the performances of Irene Jacob and Jean-Louis Trintignant. The DVD also includes the 20-minute featurette entitled Insights Into Trois Couleurs-Rouge where Insdorff is among the individuals who are interviewed along with Irene Jacob, editor Jacques Witta, sound mixer William Flageollet, filmmaker Agnieska Holland, set photographer Piotr Jaxa, and film critic Geoff Andrew about the film and its production plus some of the events that led to Kieslowski’s eventual passing 2 years after the film’s release.

Other features include a 9-minute cinema lesson from Kieslowski about the concept of plot-point where he reveals what to show and what not to show. The 10-minute conversation with Irene Jacob has the actress talk about her collaboration with Kieslowski as well as her own insights on the film. Jacob also participates in a selected-scene commentary where she talks about her scenes with Trintignant and what she wanted to do but ended up going with what Kieslowski wanted. The 11-minute interview with producer Marin Karmitz has him talking about the film and its release where he revealed that Quentin Tarantino wanted to give the Palme d’Or prize to Kieslowski at the 1994 Cannes Film Festival while Karmitz also talked about his experience at the 1995 Oscars where the film was nominated for three awards.

The thirteen-minute interview with editor Jacques Witta explores many of the technical insights into the film plus some deleted footage that was cut where Witta revealed why they got cut. The 24-minute behind-the-scenes documentary on the film reveals a lot of what goes on in the production where Kieslowski directs his actors into a scene as much of it takes place in a theater where the Valentine character is working as a model. The 15-minute segment about the film’s premiere at the 1994 Cannes Film Festival reveals many interviews with the people involved as well as the press conference where Kieslowski announced that the film would be his last as it would hold true upon his death two years later. The DVD also features a flexography section on the works of Kieslowski plus trailers for the other two films in the trilogy and Tom Tykwer’s 2002 film Heaven that was based on a script co-written by Kieslowski.

The 2011 Region 1 DVD/Region A Blu-Ray from the 4-disc DVD/3-disc Blu-Ray for the trilogy from the Criterion Collection presents the film in a new high-definition digital restoration in its original theatrical ratio with remastered Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround Sound in French with English subtitles. The DVD for the film features Kieslowski’s cinema lesson as well as the short documentary on the film’s premiere at the 1994 Cannes Film Festival as well as interviews with editor Jacques Witta and producer Marin Karmitz. On the fourth disc of the DVD/third disc on the Blu-Ray is the 24-minute behind-the-scenes documentary on the film as well as the 15-minute documentary Kieslowski: The Early Years that previously appeared in the 2003 DVD special feature for Trois Couleurs: Bleu.

Among the new features in the third disc of the DVD is a 22-minute video essay by film critic Dennis Lim about the film. Lim talks about the theme of fraternity as well as the themes of miscommunication and disconnection which is prevalent in the film as Lim also talks about the film’s place in the entire trilogy. Notably in its look and visual motifs where Lim talks about the film’s cinematography and it’s music as it’s an amazing visual essay about the film. A new 16-minute interview with Irene Jacob has the actress talk about her collaboration with Kieslowski as well as his approach to directing actors and to stage a scene. Jacob also talks about some of her own interpretations of the film while also talking about working with Jean-Louis Trintignant who had a blast working on the film and admiring Kieslowski.

The fourth disc of the DVD (that also appears in the third disc of the Blu-Ray) focuses on the trilogy such as the 55-minute 1995 documentary Krzysztof Kieslowsk: I’m So-So. Directed by Kieslowski’s longtime assistant director Krzysztof Wierzbicki, the film is an unconventional portrait of the filmmaker as he discusses about his life as well as some of his film. Even as he talks about a few of his methods and his decision to move from documentary to fictional narrative forms of filmmaking as it’s a must-see for any fan of Kieslowski. The fourth disc also features a trio of short films directed by Kieslowski as the he first is the six-minute short The Tram that is a simple story of a young man meeting a young woman on a bus.

The second is the 16-minute documentary short Seven Women of Different Ages which is about a week in the life of a ballet school as young ballerinas train where some manage to do performances while some are rehearsing. The third and final short is the 15-minute short doc Talking Heads which is an intriguing documentary short that has Kieslowski asking people their names and what to do as he asks an infant to a 100-year old woman these questions in a fascinating short.. Another short film that appears in the fourth disc includes a short Kieslowski is in called The Face which is a thriller of sorts that is inspired by the story of Dorian Gray. The fourth disc also includes trailers for all three films as they’re played back-to-back-to-back.

The DVD set also includes a 78-page booklet that features essays and other text pieces relating to the film and the trilogy as a whole. The first essay is from University of Cambridge lecturer Georgina Evans entitled A Fraternity of Strangers discusses not just about the film and its relation to the trilogy. It also talks about many of its themes as well as ambiguity in its story. Especially in its narrative where it plays to the idea of connection and disconnection as it’s a very engrossing essay. Another piece relating to the film is a brief interview with cinematographer Piotr Sobocinski entitled Show First, Explain After where the cinematographer talks about many of the shooting set-ups and some of intricacies that Kieslowski wanted. Even as he talks about some of its complicated set-ups as well as some of its simpler moments.

Two more text pieces emerge in the booklet as it relates to the entire trilogy as the first entitled A Hymn to European Cinema by University of Pittsburgh English/film professor Colin MacCabe. The essay talks about the trilogy and its importance to European cinema in the aftermath of the fall of Communism. MacCabe talks about some of its themes as well as Kieslowski’s determination to create something that was a hymn to Europe at a time when the continent was still trying to find itself in the three themes that Kieslowski would explore in the trilogy. The second and final text piece that relates to the trilogy is a 1993 interview with Kieslowski from a book of interviews with Kieslowki on his work at the time Bleu was in post-production as he was getting ready for the next film. Kieslowski talks about the trilogy as a whole as well as all of the stories as well as what he hopes to do. Even as he talks about a lot of things he plans as well as the images that are in the works for the upcoming films as it’s an interesting interview with the director.

Trois Couleurs: Rouge is an astonishingly enchanting and evocative film from Krzysztof Kieslowski that features great performances from Irene Jacob and Jean-Louis Trintignant. Not only is it a fitting end to the trilogy but also as a defining final statement from Kieslowski about humanity and the themes of the French flag. Even as it is a film that can stand on its own while also being part of something that will never be equaled or topped. In the end, Trois Couleurs: Rouge is a tremendously powerful and triumphant film from Krzysztof Kieslowski.

Krzysztof Kieslowski Films: (Personal) - (The Scar) - (Camera Buff) - (The Calm) - (Short Working Day) - Blind Chance - (No End) - (A Short Film About Killing) - (A Short Film About Love) - The Decalogue - The Double Life of Veronique - Trois Couleurs: Bleu - Trois Couleurs: Blanc

© thevoid99 2014

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Brilliant film, and easily my favorite of the trilogy, which is altogether quite marvelous. Nice review here too!