Wednesday, February 27, 2013


WHITE (1993)

Director: Krzysztof Kieslowski
Screenplay: Krzysztof Piesiewicz and Krzysztof Kieslowski

Established in “Blue” are both the obvious motif, of color, and also a circular object motif that will be transcended through the entire trilogy. Yet, when it comes to white and circular, I don’t think anyone would’ve seen “Blue” and immediately thought the next film, would start with our protagonist vomiting into a toilet bowl. “White” is the comedy of the trilogy, and also the weakest of Kieslowski’s “Three Colors Trilogy”, but don’t take from that, it’s still a masterpiece. Each of the three films of course, named after the colors of the French flag, standing for Liberty for “Blue” first, fraternity for “Red,” third, and “White,” stands for equality. It begins in Paris courtroom where a divorce proceeding is being heard. A Polish hairdresser, Karol Karol (Zbigniew Zamachowski) is being accused by his beautiful French wife Dominique (Julie Delpy) that since their marriage began, he has yet to consummate it. She is correct, and she humilates and embarrasses him numerous times financially, emotionally and sexually, until he resorts to playing a comb for money at the train station, with nothing but a suitcase full of diplomas. He eventually befriends a fellow Polish man (Janusz Gajos) who sneaks him into Poland by plane, by having him hide in his suitcase. The suitcase, when it arrives in Poland, is then stolen from the airport. Battered and bruised he arrives in what is now a Capitalist Poland, no longer under Russian-Communist rule, and restarts his career at his family’s salon/barbershop, with his brother (Jerzy Stuhr, who played brothers with Zamachowski in“Decalogue 10”). I should mention that the name Karol in Polish, is the American equivalent of Charlie, and that is symbolic. (Think of the most famous Charlie in cinema, and you’ve got who they’re alluding to.) He also gets other work doing security work, and eventually saves enough money to buy land and expand his businesses excessively, making himself a rising entrepreneur. It’s from here that he starts a very elaborate plan to get his wife back, which starts first with getting his French wife to Poland. How he does this I will not even begin to explain; it’s way too complex, but in gaining monetary superiority in Poland, he could than take a dominant position in his relationship with Dominique, which is what she constantly had in France. Home-field advantage plays a role in this plan. She owns the salon, controls the money, and knows the language in France and it isn’t until he’s producing equal power to her in Poland, does he get the equality to win her love back. What a strange definition of equality, from both a socioeconomical, political, and most importantly, a personal level, insinuating that equality is not only rooted in the everchanging roles of dominance and submission and more importantly the needs of the characters to fulfill desires and the ability of those characters to fulfill those desires, and extract appropriate revenge. I think what’s portrayed most vividly in Kieslowski’s work are these basic human emotions which are completely universal, but the entirely complex ways in which humans actually deal with them, which Kieslowski knows are almost completely random whether they’re instantly felt or lingered over long periods where one’s thoughts are given time to analyze, understand, and plan their one’s overcoming of them, through typical or atypical means. Kieslowski was born in Poland and spent most of his life there. “White would become the final film he made in Poland, and the only time he would make a film that showed the true differences between pre and post-Communist block of the nation. 

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