,How often does someone set out to make a trilogy nowadays? Like, “right, here I am, making 3 films that act as one.” You don’t. If you’re lucky, you get great trilogies that just so happened to work well even though the two films following on weren’t originally on the cards. You get double bills like Kill Bill Vol. 1 & 2 (2003 and 2004) that were supposed to be one long movie and therefore of course work well as a duo. But it wasn’t intentional. What I’m trying to say is that they don’t make ’em like this anymore.
Trois Couleurs, or The Three Colours Trilogy, is a Polish-French co-production. You will have to excuse it’s entry as ‘Polish’ in my Blind Spot Series, the beauty of not having seen the films before, I assumed they would be more on the Polish side, but I digress… Blue was released first in 1993, and White and Red followed the next year respectively. I watched all the films separately, but in order. Like the rule-follower I am.
Blue follows Julie, a woman who recently lost her husband and child. She isolates herself from the rest of the world and takes ownership of her own suffering. She does not allow herself to be manipulated a certain way by revelations or events outside her control. White is about a Polish gentleman, Karol, who is embarrassed and emasculated when his French wife divorces him in a French court because he had never managed to consummate the marriage. Furthermore, this is made worse by the fact he can’t speak French and required the help of a translator. And thus seeks to exact his revenge. Finally Red is about a young student and part time model, Valentine, who meets a retired judge with an interesting hobby.
The most interesting thing I discovered about the films was the simplicity of their titles and how this mirrored with the simplicity of the visuals. Throughout Blue, I allowed myself to be mesmerised by the blue light. It was everywhere. Coming from the TV screens. In the swimming pool Julie liked to frequent in (another layer of her staying focused and controlled). The light fixtures and hec, sometimes even the sunshine looked blue.
The film put the word in my head, and I couldn’t get it out. It affected how I viewed the whole film. In White, the exact opposite yet the same thing happened. “Where is all the white?” I thought. “Were the filmmakers afraid of making everything look too washed out?” And I couldn’t get Julie Delpy and her skin out of my head. I concluded that the main source of the colour white in this film was her Porcelain complexion.
Red was more obvious than White, but much more subtle than Blue. I found that more items within the world of the film were red (like Valentine’s kitchen units, cars, her ad poster) rather than visual effects as in Blue. Let’s face it, there’s no way the swimming pool is GENUINELY that blue. And the colour of each of these films were kept in the back of my mind constantly. Like a like psychological pull that was making me say BLUE BLUE BLUE over and over again.
The films obviously have a great connection to France and the French flag. And, despite Karol being the protagonist in White, the films were very female focused. They focused on how women react to certain environments and situations. I found Julie in Blue incredibly strong, yet unstable and slightly scary. I found Valentine in Red independent, kind with an enviable balance of looks and brains. Yet, her dependence on her no-good boyfriend made her seem worse than helpless. I would probably go so far as to say pitiful. And Dominique in White? Well, let’s just say shallow, blatantly-obvious gold diggers get there’s eventually.
The films were worked as themselves and together. They are works of art and can be enjoyed individually and as part of a whole. I personally like the order they were released in, however there’s no reason why they can’t be enjoyed in alternative patterns. Though, I like the little tidbits here and there that reveal themselves as you work through the series. I’m mostly pleased that all three films offer a distinct and refreshing view on several faces of the human condition and were all an absolute joy to watch.
Have you ever seen the Trois Coleurs Trilogy? Did you think it was beautiful like me?