“Bleu” (1993) dir. Krzysztof Kieslowski
The first in Kieslowski’s trilogy, the film revolves around the first in the French national motto, the idea of “liberté”. It is a strange liberation…caused by the death of her daughter and husband. Julie wishes to leave behind all she knows of life, after the tragic accident, and cease all connection with others, but is that clean-cut escape merely a delusion? Perhaps Kieslowski is hesitant to believe in a complete, pure and isolated (regarding an influence on others/by others) liberté.
One of my favorites scenes is the one(s) where Julie swims alone in an illuminated pool.
There is a scene in which Julie sees a television show about bungee jumpers hesitantly jumping off the edge of a tall bridge or building but being held, obviously, by the springy wire that eventually pulls them back up and doesn’t allow them to fall ‘all the way’. It is a simple depiction of Julie’s crisis: attempting to fully fall and detach herself from everything she knew of life before the accident. However, other people continue to disrupt her attempt at isolation and nothingness.
There is also a lot of focus on sound, especially as the film points to the soundtrack with blackouts and other plays of the camera. To tie in with the story, Julie’s late husband had been a composer but his unfinished latest work had actually seem to be composed by her, and it is this piece of music that haunts her throughout the film, and is one of the ways that she is unable to cut the cord from her ‘previous’ life.
I’m still finishing up watching the rest of the trilogy, there are several ongoing motifs and scenes that connect the 3 films. The trilogy is a new favorite of mine, and a modern French/Polish classic. They’re on Youtube! :p
is one of my favorite directors known for “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” and “Science of Sleep”, and his latest film appears to be an even bigger dosage of his familiar surrealism and theatrical visual effects. It will be released in the U.S. this summer…
“L’ecume des Jours”
Some who have seen it already claim that the effects are too much this time and drown out the story, but I would think that most of Gondry’s dreamlike scenes and magical quirks and props are not supposed to be ‘relevant’ to a cohesive plot, but stem from the idea of playing with surrealism and visual gimmicks for the sake of the childlike wonder with blending imagination and reality…for the sake of playing with film itself. That’s the way I read Gondry’s style, which is much like the theatrics of early films from the 1910’s and 20’s. I still have to wait to see it when its released soon, but so far, I like his work.
Gondry, like a few other notable filmmakers, started out, directing music videos for musicians like Bjork, the White Stripes, Radiohead, etc. In case you haven’t seen his feature films yet, you can get an idea of his innovation with dream-like effects and motion in film, and a love of theater-stage-like-settings and props. Here’s one he did for Bjork in 1993:
was to go see “The Artist” at a cute little theater at 10:30 p.m. a few nights ago. Aside from the magical feeling of going to an empty theater at that time, the film itself, a modern-day version of the silent film, took me by surprise with how well the filmmakers imitated the older style of cinema AND captured my undivided attention for the entire film. What’s interesting is how the film is a inner-commentary on sound in cinema; both the style and substance of the film are driven by the “silent era”.
(that’s Berenice Bejo as Peppy Miller)
This lady, Berenice, was so adorably funny and got to wear some fantastic 20’s-era costumes! Her character, Peppy, becomes a sort of symbol for the transition out of the silent era and into the genre of “talkies”. I really liked how she doesn’t forget her roots in silent cinema and her start with the help of George Valentin, the main character; Peppy parallels the entire film in paying homage to the silent era.
One of the elements that I enjoyed the most was actually the lack of sound! (Except for background music as soundtrack) The occasional caption cards/intertitle cards are perfectly placed within the plot, but most of the film is so easily understandable and directs the audience’s attention and emotions with the acting and soundtrack. I can totally see this film being used as a study for sound in cinema in future years. Heck, if I ever get to teach a film course, I would definitely assign this film!
(that’s Jean Dujardin as George Valentin)
This guy plays the main character, whom I both laughed and cried along with during the film. The story mainly follows his career as a silent film actor in the 1920’s and how it begins to spiral downwards with the advent and popularity of “talkies”. (I won’t say anything more because I don’t want to spoil it!)
This film was just so surprisingly captivating and I highly recommend going to see it, preferably in a cute little empty theater! (it’s the only way I’m going to watch films at the theaters now :))
Oh, and if it helps at all, this film was written and directed by this cool French dude (Michel Hazavanicius):