Three Colors: Red (Revisited)


I’ve written some naïve things on these pages in the past. Part of the joy of building your life with art is going back, re-living, and finding new ways to express what you could not before. I usually brush superficially on some films when I am in a hurry, or feel a sense of disregard. But I also do the same when I experience something so subtle that I do not feel it touch my essential bone.

I wrote about this film in a superficial and vague manner. The writing was disparate as much as the references and the article lacked a rhythm. What can I say. You read, you grow, you learn, you re-do.

Now I want you to see this movie, really. And I want to make a real case for it. I think we have one of the most beautiful films ever made here, in terms of what it intends, the value of that intent, and the mechanics working towards that intent.

Kieslowski is the most benevolent friend you will ever have if you take on his Colors trilogy. But don’t receive it within the framework it is commonly presented in: that thing about the French flag. No, instead, see it as a meditation on change in the context of the personal, what is called “growth” in the context of the human experience. But that term bothers me, it implies a linear chronology, which conflicts with the nature of the reflection that brings about change. In reality, change is as much moving forward as going back.

In “Blue” we have our character go back. “Red” is about going forward. And “White” is the mediation between the two.

I used to rank “Blue” the highest, but that honor now goes to “Red”. Here we have overlapping realities and the flows between them are more fluid than anything in the unfolding of “Blue”. Although “Blue” is a beautiful broken vase put back together, “Red” is that same vase, except red and in the midst of its conceiving.

I study storytelling techniques that increase or shorten the distance between the audience and the story. The art of screenwriting relies on those techniques to determine how much the audience can engage itself in the story.

Kieslowski is a smart man, so he knows how and where to place his camera to match the level at which the screenwriter has placed the audience. But part of being intelligent about this is injecting threads in the story that mirror this stance. So Valentine is a model and we see her at the runway and on billboards, both instances where ‘watching’ is implied. Our judge ‘monitors’ his neighbors, listening in private phonecalls, and shares this experience with Valentine. A parallel story is the implied past of the main story–and those two main threads ‘watch’ each other.

But why ‘watching’ you ask? Well, because we are watchers ourselves. Because it is a sublime notion that of spectatorship. Because Kieslowski himself is a lifelong watcher, and if you are interested in film then you are one yourself.

As for the rest, I will not bother writing about it. Those are things of the soul. Although, it could be mentionned that the greatest art has as its base notion the problem of the personal and how it relates to the universal. How to touch the rest of the world apart from yourself?

And I imagine you could say that ‘watching’ is part of an answer.


Categories: Notes

1 reply »

  1. i need to re-visit this film myself. at this point, i rate blue as my favorite in the trilogy (the direction in blue is out of the park).

    actually, i need to revisit the entire trilogy. its been a while for me

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