Directed by: Krzysztof Kieslowski | 100 minutes | drama, music, romance | Actors: Juliette Binoche, Benoît Régent, Florence Pernel, Charlotte Véry, Hélène Vincent, Philippe Volter, Claude Duneton, Hugues Quester, Emanuelle Riva, Florence Vignon, Daniel Martin, Jacek Ostaszewski, Catherine Therouenne, Yann Trégoët, Alain Ollivier
‘Trois Couleurs: Bleu’ is the first film in a trilogy by Kieslowski entitled the colors of the French flag, which deals with the French national slogans freedom, equality and brotherhood. While freedom generally has a positive connotation, Kieslowski has opted for a negative approach to the concept in ‘Bleu’: freedom that is sought by cutting off all emotional ties. The traumatic event of the loss of husband and daughter in an accident does not leave Julie (an impressive role by Juliette Binoche) in the cold clothes. She feels that life has abandoned her and in turn turns her back on her life. Although she doesn’t opt for the physical form of suicide, she does kill her past and the life she led by cutting all ties.
However, the past cannot easily be sidelined. Slowly but surely, her history forces itself back on Julie. Sounds, events, objects and loves from the past are re-emerging. It doesn’t help, of course, that her husband was a famous composer, whose music can be heard everywhere after his death. The music is a character in itself in Bleu. Her late husband’s compositions act as a voice from the past, a reference to the future and at times as the song of the sirens who want to lure her to the rocks of her past.
In a subtle way Kieslowski shows that Julie, despite her apparently convincing chosen isolation, gradually has to make a choice for or against her past. This past presents itself subtly, then again it imposes itself on her in a stubborn way and tries to break through the wall that she has built around herself.
Julie is always seduced by the call of the love and beauty of the life she has left behind. Love and beauty that have also caused her the grief she flees from. Kieslowski poses the question in ‘Bleu’ what exactly freedom is. Is it the ability to go through life with complete independence and commitment and the possibility of being hurt or disappointed? Or is freedom precisely the courage to dare to take the risk of loving and being able to lose? The message Kieslowski has with ‘Bleu’ is that freedom comes in many forms. A beautiful puzzle, a beautiful soundtrack, a strong cast and everything portrayed with patience, craftsmanship and love. A masterpiece.