- The warmest film of Kieslowski’s trilogy and his entire career—both emotionally (the color means fraternity here and that is certainly a match) and visually.
- It is a brilliant film on its own, but also a fitting finale (with a short coda attached) to the trilogy— Kieslowski going Masterpiece, Must-See, and Masterpiece with the trilogy to end his career (and that is after Dekalog and Veronique). He would pass away in 1996 (at age 54)- but he had announced his retirement with this project and film.
- Opens with a color rush of red objects placed (we roll past some red stamps- nothing overlooked in the mise-en-scene for Kieslowski) to some red telephone wire. We wouldn’t know it now, but the phone being tapped is central to the film’s narrative
- Two strangers live a few apartments away near the red Café Chez Joseph – fate (or God) – is about to intervene. Kieslowski will float the camera between their apartments in a nice tracking shot and do it again as the camera rolls from her bowling lane (the whole bowling alley awash in red) to his lane
- Bubblegum modeling shot at 5 minutes
- The frames are just inundated in reds—the Marlboro cigarettes, red jeep, red bowling ball- stop signs, costume work, lighting on the streets
- The visual décor design and use of color ranks among cinema’s best
- Irene Jacob plays Valentine (yep, red)- a genuinely good person (shown by Kieslowski as the only three in the trilogy to help the woman with the glass in the recycling)- she helps a dog and that leads her to a retired judge Jean-Louis Trintignant. He’s cynical. They literally argue and she says “people are good” and he says “no they’re not”. JLT may be sort of a sage or god-like character here as he tells her about her future and knows of the upcoming trip. They form a beautiful platonic friendship.
- A meditation on fate and interconnectedness- falling books opening to certain pages and passages
- The weather forecast is wrong (and that has a biblical meaning)—and that mirrors Dekalog chapter one with the ice—the survivors are the central characters from our trilogy
- A masterpiece- along with the other films in the trilogy one of the towering accomplishments in cinema in the 1990s.
Great review, unfortunately this is where Kieslowski’s study ends, it’s a shame he’s retired at the peak of his powers, although he died shortly after.
Do you consider Kieslowski one of the great directors to die young? (despite being retired unlike someone like Tarkovsky)
Second and last question, do you consider that the trilogy is stronger individually or altogether is stronger?
@Aldo- certainly- a tragedy for him to die (of course death in general for someone that young a tragedy) at the height of his powers. He said he was “retired” but of course he could have come out of retirement (he was working on a Heaven, Hell, Purgatory trilogy as well) if he had lived.
I do consider them stronger together like the work of any great auteur. Not just the director of great movies– but the director of great Kieslowski movies.
He was working on a new trilogy called Heaven,Hell and Purgatory.I wouldn’t have been suprised if he released those films within 2-3 years if he hadn’t died in 1996 at the age of 54.
@Anderson- good work. Man- I would’ve love to have seen those. Tom Tykwer did Heaven and it is a fine film (in the archives)- but is no Blue/White/Red
I think Red is the best (marginally, really) out of the three installments in the trilogy and a film that has a weird way of representing humanity and passing on a very holistic message that transcends the trilogy and mainly concerns morality, love and the interconnectedness of everything.
To be perfectly honest, I believe Blue is visually stronger and more immersive, but Red’s strengths lie not only in its visual aspect but the way that it approaches its themes (not to say that those are absent in Blue, of course). As one would expect, red is everywhere in a consistent and very balanced way – the frames are not exactly drenched in red, but enriched by it. The frames you’ve chosen for this page are all incredible and very representative of the film’s tones and style.
What is very admirable for me is how deeply religious this movie is. Of course, you have the Dekalog so there’s that (I need to watch all the episodes to talk about that one – I’ve only caught up with Love), but Red is pondering on theological themes in a quieter way. There is a sense of devine intervention -obviously- but also some kind of reflection on the devine in general and strong philosophical/existential angst. What is moral and what is not, human nature – innately good or callous/selfish, different views on life and love. Trintignant and Jacob are like two clashing worlds. And much like the film tries to convey, it is Jacob’s approach toward life that wins him over in the end and manages to ingrain a sense of worth and happiness within his soul (Kieslowski seems to dwell heavily on the concept of the human soul).
I wouldn’t exactly describe their relationship as platonic, though it is in reality. Trintignant is the future version of the young man studying law living near Jacob. Their parallel lives -his and Jacob’s- take place in different timelines. I think one could say he is platonically in love with her. The magic of her character lies in her simplicity – she is a kind hearted person, naive and yet so mature at the very same time. Her romanticism and willingness to help others, as well as the heaviness of her existence (she is incredibly aware of the impact of what she says and does and is puzzled by complex ideas and philosophical concepts) are elevated to something to behold and admire. This young woman represents seeing the beauty of life and that is precisely what Kieslowski is trying to say in this brilliant film. Red makes for the perfect climax to his trilogy and puts a beautiful end to the career of an inspired director. I believe it is Kieslowski’s magnum opus. I haven’t watched or studied Dekalog so I could very well be wrong – I wouldn’t call it his best work, since I haven’t watched all of his oeuvre, but it definitely feels like (and practically is) his swansong. I will, of course, agree that it must be one of cinema’s proudest masterpieces.
@Georg– as always- great share. Thank you. As far as platonic– I just mean it as it is defined- of love or friendship, intimate and affectionate– but not sexual. I think it fits.
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