Sunday, 5 September 2010

Do The White Thing

Trois Couleurs: Blanc
1994 Poland/France/Switzerland
Directed by Krzysztof Kieslowski
Artificial Eye DVD Region 2

White is the most conventional of Kieslowski’s classic trilogy... certainly in terms of narrative structure it’s the most up front and least ambiguous of his movies. Basically it’s a romantic movie which has equal parts of buddy comedy movie mixed up with a little revenge.

Visually, too, although still very interesting and wonderful to behold, there seems to be just generally less going on in this movie. Kieslowski, for the most part, seems to have abandoned his method of concentrating on just the little details like he did in the first part of this trilogy, and instead focusses on the character arc of the main protagonist in a more visually direct mode as he goes from being a man in love, bitterly divorced and also outlawed by his wife, to a popular barber and then, due to some shenanigans with land ownership, to being a wealthy businessman.

This also tells the story of the recovery of his sexual potency... his wife's reasons for divorcing him are on the grounds of being unsatisfied in bed... an unconsummated marriage is not what she wants from him. Later, as he is about to have revenge on his wife by clever manipulation and after faking his own death, the two of them make love and it is quite clear that he has regained the confidence to fulfil what she sees as his carnal duties to her.

There is obviously a fair amount of white in the shots... as you would expect from Kieslowski after the first part... but this is mostly not achieved through filters but through quite stark lighting in some shots... so white neon lights reflect white off of shiny surfaces, for instance. And some of the movie is set in Poland in the snowy landscape... so he doesn’t need to do too much work there ;-)

The music, again by Preisner, is quite nice but nowhere near comes through as potent as his score for Blue... I guess it’s not meant to. This is, after all, the Kieslowski spin on a light, fluffy comedy.

Like the Decalog before it, he film gently rubs against the situations and characters from the other two parts, although I can’t remember the overlaps from Red and so am waiting to watch that one again... I’ll leave about a week before I rewatch it. Certainly there’s a shot of Juliette Binoche in long shot which is a reverse shot of one we see from her point of view (more or less) in Blue. And there’s a sequence with a throwaway character of an old lady trying to recycle a bottle which viewers will get a sudden realisation from if they’ve seen the first part.

The only real ambiguity in the film is the final couple of shots... something is about to happen between the main protagonist and his wife... you just don’t know what... although if memory serves these characters, along with the characters from the first part, will get a resolution of sorts at the end of Red.

The film, for me, is the least interesting of the Kieslowski films I’ve seen and, therefore, it’s my least favourite of his popular trilogy... but you know what? If it’s a minor work by Kieslowski then that’s still pretty much a major piece of art compared to most other director’s works. Still essential viewing... but make sure you see all three in order.

1 comment:

  1. An informative view on one of a classic of 1990's cinema,