Three Colors: Blue

September 8th, 1993


Three Colors: Blue

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First of a trilogy of films dealing with contemporary French society concerns how the wife of a composer deals with the death of her husband and child.

Release Year: 1993

Rating: 7.9/10 (31,246 voted)

Director: Krzysztof Kieslowski

Stars: Juliette Binoche, Zbigniew Zamachowski, Julie Delpy

Three Colors: Blue is the first part of Kieslowski's trilogy on France's national motto: Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity. Blue is the story of Julie who loses her husband, an acclaimed European composer and her young daughter in a car accident. The film's theme of liberty is manifested in Julie's attempt to start life anew free of personal commitments, belongings grief and love. She intends to spiritually commit suicide by withdrawing from the world and live completely independently, anonymously and in solitude in the Parisian metropolis. Despite her intentions, people from her former and present life intrude with their own needs. However, the reality created by the people who need and care about her, a surprising discovery and the music around which the film revolves heals Julie and irresistably draws her back to the land of the living.

Writers: Krzysztof Kieslowski, Krzysztof Piesiewicz

Juliette Binoche - Julie Vignon - de Courcy
Benoît Régent - Olivier (as Benoit Regent)
Florence Pernel - Sandrine
Charlotte Véry - Lucille (as Charlotte Very)
Hélène Vincent - La journaliste (as Helene Vincent)
Philippe Volter - L'agent immobilier
Claude Duneton - Le médecin
Hugues Quester - Patrice (Mari de Julie)
Emmanuelle Riva - La mère
Florence Vignon - La copiste
Daniel Martin - Le voisin du dessous
Jacek Ostaszewski - Le flutiste
Catherine Therouenne - La voisine
Yann Trégouët - Antoine (as Yann Tregouet)
Alain Ollivier - L'avocat

Release Date: 8 September 1993

Filming Locations: Cité du Midi, Paris 18, Paris, France

Gross: $1,324,974 (USA)

Technical Specs


Did You Know?

During one swimming scene in the blue pool, children in red and white bathing suits run out and jump in the water - another subtle reference to the trilogy (blue, white, and red).

Boom mic visible: When Oliver tells Julie he will not incorporate her changes into the musical score, a boom mic is visible briefly as Julie puts down the phone.

Julie Vignon: Now I have only one thing left to do: nothing. I don't want any belongings, any memories. No friends, no love. Those are all traps.

User Review

Liberty as Freefalling Through Life.

Rating: 10/10

For a film about mourning, there are two moments in Krsyztoff Kielslowski's THREE COLORS: BLUE that seem divorced of anything that is happening at first glance. Both are seen through the impersonal medium of a television. The first occurs early in the film: as she recovers from an automobile accident which claimed the life of her husband, composer Patrice de Courcy, and her daughter Anna, Julie is given access to witness their funeral, but as she turns the channel, there is an image of a man bungee jumping. It will be seen again when Julie visits her mother (played by Emmanuelle Riva) who lives in a home, disconnected from the outside, watching television. This image of a person seen in free-fall against a pale blue sky (blue is indeed prominent in this film) seems to mirror Julie quite well: her loss has given her an empty outlook on life. She wishes to do 'nothing', to just exist, divorced from human contact. However, that same cord which is a life-preserver will eventually pull her back.

It's the slow but sure pull of the cord that Kieszlowski wants to tell in this beautiful but tragic story. In Juliette Binoche he has found his muse. With that face that expresses a complex set of emotions and her internalized body language that at times threatens to break through outbursts (as when she plays a piece of the concerto for the unification of Europe her husband was creating and suddenly slams the piano, or when she leaves her house carrying only a box and almost mauls her first against a stone wall). She cannot feel and is trying to make herself do so, but realizes it is better to just be, without ties, love, meaning.

BLUE is filled, almost drenched, in subtle meaning which grows stronger at every frame. Kieslowszki's bungee cord begins to make its presence at every subsequent scene. The box Julie is seen carrying contains a mobile which formed a blue sphere -- her only link to her daughter. The musical score, which in one scene she had ordered destroyed, makes its appearance in none other than the streets of Paris under the sad flute of a deadbeat who says, "We all must hold onto something." People inevitably come into her life -- for what reason we aren't told up front, but there is the feeling of matters left unresolved and new elements which will force Julie to come full circle and finally open herself to herself.

There are three sequences in which Julie immerses herself in water. Water allows herself to go under, to dive into what she has been avoiding for some time now. In one scene, she is seen in a fetal position as if this is a return to her primal state of floating -- free-fall -- and is "safe". However, the next-to-last time she swims she is confronted by her new friend and neighbor Lucille (Charlotte Very) who is an exotic dancer working in the red-light district in Paris (note the implicit link to RED) and then she, and we, hear the noise of little children who all jump into the pool dressed in reds and whites which make her instinctively recoil and maybe cry. After all, this is an oblique reference to Anna and she may not be ready for this kind of information. The memories come back (even when we do not see them) and even correlate to a decision to have a neighbor's cat kill a litter or mice in her apartment because she needs complete aloneness.

But this will not happen: there are still serious matters which she is about to discover and Lucille, the least involved person in Julie's tragedy but whose progressive insinuation into Julie's life, similar to Valentine's reaching out to the old judge in RED, will be the link to facing them.

Music is also an important part of BLUE, and whenever Julie is about to make a decision that will take the story to the next level we hear the haunting Preisner score which permeates the entire movie as its soul. American films don't seem to give music such a prominent position in a film, quite possibly because there is always the element of consumerism that is at the heart of every movie -- even serious films. European films, I've noticed, have a different approach to storytelling. BLUE is a very oblique mystery contained within itself from WHITE and RED, but one that demands listening to as well as subsequent views: it opens and reveals its petals very slowly and contains a surprise at the center of its bud, one that again, American film-makers would not have known how to resolve unless there was some form of catharsis and maybe even violence. Not here: for a movie that gives music and its relation to a truly spellbinding mystery, BLUE and its score are stunning, particularly at its climactic sequence where all of the people Julie has crossed paths with are seen in one last, flowing shot -- Emmanuelle Riva's being the most emotional, seen reflected twice in what can only be a haunting death scene, or is it? -- and returns, full circle, to another reflection of Julie, and Julie herself, open, and weeping in an enigmatic, Mona Lisa smile, free at last.


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