Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Three Colors: Blue
Blue is the English language title of the 1993 French language film, Trois Couleurs: Bleu (available with English subtitles). Co-written, produced, and directed by Krzysztof Kieślowski, Blue is the first in the Three Colors trilogy, themed on the French Revolutionary ideals, followed by White and Red.
- Juliette Binoche: "Julie Vignon-de Courcy"
- Benoît Régent: "Olivier Benoit"
- Charlotte Very : "Lucille"
- Emmanuelle Riva : "Madame Vignon" (Julie's mother)
- Florence Pernel : "Sandrine"
- Venice Film Festival, 1993: Best Film and Juliette Binoche, Best Actress, Best Cinematography: Slawomir Idziak
- Cesar Award, 1993: Best Actress: Juliette Binoche, Best Sound, Best Film Editing
- Goya Awards (Spain's Academy Awards): Best European Film
Blue is a complex psychological study of emotional liberty. It is set in Paris, where Julie, wife of the famous composer Patrice de Courcy, must cope with his and their five-year-old daughter's death in an automobile accident, one that she wishes she too had not survived. While recovering in hospital, her initial thought is to take her own life by swallowing a handful of painkillers stolen from the hospital's medicine chest. From that point on, her days are devoted to committing mental suicide, by disassociating herself from all past memories and getting rid of all reminders including the destruction of her late husband's last commissioned work, a piece for the celebration of the European Union.
Despite her desires to shrink into nothingness, merely existing forces Julie to confront certain elements of her past that she would rather not face. Along the way, she befriends Lucille, a prostitute/stripper who lives downstairs from her; falls in love with Olivier, her late husband's aide; and helps Sandrine, her late husband's mistress of whom she knew nothing and who is carrying his child.
Visually, the director uses many techniques to portray the sense of loss and Julie's internal conflict. As Julie watches the funeral for her husband and daughter from her hospital bed, the dark shadow of her finger caresses the tiny casket on the screen. Once out of hospital, she begins to swim alone in a darkened pool and each time the pain overwhelms her, she rushes to swim, pushing herself to the limit, trying to force away the memories. The key to understanding the story is the meaning of its color which Kieślowski said in its modern context does not treat liberty in a social or political way, but as the liberty of life itself.
Like the other films in the trilogy, Blue makes frequent visual allusions to its title: in addition to blue filters and blue lighting, many small, inconspicuous objects are blue. Blue light, representing Julie's past, creeps in around her at several points throughout the film, accompanied by the haunting musical theme around which the film revolves. The words to this theme, taken from 1 Corinthians 13:1–13 of the Bible, suggest the means by which Julie will heal and return to the land of the living:
Though I speak with the tongues of angels,
If I have not love...
My words would resound with but a tinkling of a cymbal.
And though I have the gift of prophecy...
And understand all mysteries...
and all knowledge...
And though I have all faith
So that I could remove mountains,
if I have not love...
I am nothing.
Love is patient, full of goodness;
Love tolerates all things,
Aspires to all things,
Love never dies,
while the prophecies shall be done away,
tongues shall be silenced,
knowledge shall fade...
thus then shall linger only
faith, hope, and love...
but greatest of these...
The film also includes several references to the other colors in the trilogy. In one scene, children dressed in white bathing suits with red floaters jump into the blue swimming pool while in another, Julie is seen accidentally entering a courtroom where the main Polish character of White is pleading his innocence. Red is seen in Paris's red-light district near Pigalle.
A number of critics rank this as one of the great motion pictures of all time. Marjorie Baumgarten of the Austin Chronicle said: "Blue is a movie that engages the mind, challenges the senses, implores a resolution, and tells, with aesthetic grace and formal elegance, a good story and a political allegory."
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