Monday, March 11, 2013

CANON OF FILM: "RED" (THREE COLORS)


RED (1994)

Director: Krzyszstof Kieslowski
Screenplay: Krzyszstof Kieslowski and Krzyzstof Piesiewicz





The final of the “Three Colors Trilogy,” and Kieslowski’s final film “Red”, earned him his only Oscar nomination for Best Director, and after its premiere at Cannes, Kieslowski, when asked about his next project said he’s going to retire to Poland, his homeland, and smoke and drink until he dies. He died two years later. “Red,” is the best of the trilogy, a film that’s underlying theme is the connections of people, made and missed, coincidental and planned. The movie, begins the way the first three begin, with travel. “Blue” began with a car traveling down the road, “White” began with a suitcase moving along a conveyer belt, this time, “Red” begins with a phone call, and then we travel numerous telephone lines until we see that the phone has been hung up on. There’s lots of talking on the phone in the movie. Valentine (Irene Jacob, who also starred in Kieslowski’s “The Double Life of Veronique”) has a boyfriend who is never seen, but is heard on the phone. Her neighbor Auguste (Jean-Pierre Lorit) also constantly calls his girlfriend Karin (Frederique Feder) as he studies to become a judge. They even go to the same café. Valentine, a model/student in Geneva, Switzerland runs over a dog one day, and decides to nurse it back to health, and return it to his owner. When she does, she finds an old retired judge (Jean-Louis Trintignant), who’s completely disinterested in the health of his dog, and has begun spending his time listening in on the phone calls of his neighbors. After years of making decisions over people’s live, he felt guilty for having that kind of control, and only wishes to observe and listen. This terrifies Valentine, but she becomes fascinated by Joseph, the judge. As they become closer throughout the film, we recognize similarities between Auguste and Joseph. From old stories the judge tells of his youth, we see similar versions of those stories being lived by Auguste. Auguste and Valentine live across the street from each other, but never seem to connect.  She often hears his car alarm go off in his red jeep, and he must’ve seen her picture on the giant billboard, and we wonder whether or not they ever will meet, or whether they should meet, or for that matter are Auguste and Joseph the same person at different points in their lives. If “Blue” is a tragedy, and “White” is a comedy, then “Red” is a romance, but like the other films, it is not a traditional one, (They're so unusual that sometimes the films are referred to as Anti-tragedy, anti-comedy and anti-romance) in either the relationship between Valentine and Joseph or the possible relationship between Auguste and Valentine. Or is Joseph somebody capable of controlling the destiny of other’s lives or is all connective lives a matter of chance, or is it a matter of fate. What form does fraternity, which the color red stands for in the French flag, take or how one must fight for the true personal friendship we need in an electronically-oriented world where contact to the outside world is as easy as picking up the phone, watching television or reading a newspaper. The final images of “Red,” give us hope through tragedy while combining all six major characters through the Three Colors film in a purely coincidental way that challenges our thoughts on whether our lives are ruled through either chance or destiny, or a combination of both. There’s many images that have connect them until now, and it’s these connected images and themes that the movies are essentially all about. Circle motifs, and of course, the colors, which are prevalent in all three films. A famous common image in the “Three Colors Trilogy” has been an old person, who’s trying to recycle a bottle, in a giant green recycling receptacle. The first two times, seen by Julie and Karol, they were ignored. When Valentine see her in “Red,” she walks over an helps her put the bottle in. A symbolic gesture? I think she’s just nice.  



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