BLU-RAY Three Colours White
Released as part of The Three Colours Trilogy Blu-ray set, which also features Three Colours Blue and Three Colours Red.
Part two of the Three Colours trilogy is Three Colours White. A very different beast to the first part, Three Colours White does not deliver the same level of beauty, depth or impact as its predecessor. While it remains an enjoyably character-driven romp, which includes attempts by Kieslowski to question wider themes alongside some enjoyable cinematography, the film does lack the clarity and poignancy of some of the great director’s more celebrated works.
The film begins with Polish immigrant hairdresser Karol Karol (Zbigniew Zamachowski) pleading with a judge in Paris, as his wife Dominique (Julie Delphy) has begun divorce proceedings claiming she no longer loves him. The reasons for the divorce are particularly embarrassing for Karol; the wedding was not consummated as a result of Karol’s inability to perform his husbandly duties. Despite still loving his wife, the divorce is granted.
Wifeless, homeless and penniless in a foreign country, Karol is forced onto the street and begins busking to obtain some extra cash. It is while performing that he meets a fellow Pole, Mikolaj (Janusz Gajos), who offers to smuggle Karol back to Poland in a suitcase as well as providing a job: to kill a man who wants to die but doesn’t have the courage to do it himself…
The trilogy is a homage to France, to the red, white and blue of the French flag, and the country’s motto of Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité (liberty, equality and fraternity (brotherhood)). Three Colours White explores equality and attempts to analyse the apparent hypocrisy which exists when the actions made by individuals, under the auspice of gaining equality, are actually more akin to gaining the upper hand on others. As the George Orwell classic Animal Farm pointed out, “All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others.” Such actions, while prevalent today in a capitalist society, were also evident, more hypocritically, within the Soviet Union during its existence, hence the motivation to stage a large portion of the film in the former communist country, Poland.
Employing a similar use of colours to Three Colours Blue, this time white takes centre stage, although it is less noticeable and prominent compared with the use of blue in the first of the trilogy. Nevertheless, we are treated to some magnificent snow and ice covered landscapes along with a consistently white skyline. Despite the bright colours and use of the word ‘white’ in the title, this is a very dark comedy. The comic situations are not born out of slapstick and more out of the absurdity of situations, the tragedy that befalls the mains characters and the, at times, unbelievable nature of what comes to pass on screen.
There are plenty of Polish vistas and wintery landscapes to enjoy which are only enhanced by the new Blu-ray release.
The plot within White is much more linear and straightforward, making it far more akin to a mainstream movie than Three Colours Blue. This is not a film which attempts to reach out for the same lofty heights as Blue in terms of themes, and a criticism that could be levied is that the introduction of the equality theme does leave the film suffering somewhat from a lack of clarity when trying to wrap things up. As Kieslowski admitted himself, when discussing the fact that he’d decided to cut some 10 minutes from the end of the film, “I agree with those criticisms that say that the ending is not clear, but, nevertheless, I did not think it worthwhile burdening the viewer with a long story – for it went on for at least another ten minutes that in effect said the same thing.”
However, the journey to get to the end remains and enjoyable one, with Kieslowski again showing his ability to explore wider themes through his films. In this instance, he takes aim at capitalism, the lead characters pennilessness in France, and subsequent rise to affluence in Poland representing the different paths of each nation in the expansion of the European Union. The film also presents the idea of rebirth, with the suitcase in which Karol stows away representing his coffin in Paris before becoming his womb in Poland as he is given another chance and reborn to a new life.
Mention should also go to the relationship between Karol and Dominique. More often than not, films will paint loving relationships as simplistic and easy to understand when, in reality, they can be the exact opposite. Love does not always equate to kindness, something these two show emphatically with their battles for and against equality mirroring the battle of the sexes that all too often is evident in real life relations.
Three Colours White may not reach the same heights of cinematographic beauty as the first part of the trilogy; however, there are plenty of Polish vistas and wintery landscapes to enjoy which are only enhanced by the new Blu-ray release. Polish composer Zbigniew Preisner’s superb score also benefits greatly from the new format.
Three Colours White is a marked contrast to Kieslowski’s work in Three Colours Blue, as he employs a much lighter touch in presenting a movie of less depth. While it may be the weakest film of the trilogy, and question marks abound with regards to whether the end hangs together, this does not stop it being an entertaining film in its own right with some comic moments and plenty of examples of Kieslowski’s magnificent use of symbolism, imagery and metaphor.
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