Blind Chance, 1987

Blind Chance opens to a dissociated close-up shot of an anxiously screaming seated passenger named Witek (Boguslaw Linda): a jarring and ominous episode that is further reflected in a subsequent chaotic scene as bloodied casualties from an undetermined catastrophe are transported – often, haphazardly but swiftly – through the cold, antiseptic halls of a hospital emergency ward. The unsettling and turbulent images then give way to the fragmentary and more tranquil memories of a stern father overseeing his son’s math homework exercises, the parting of childhood friends, an encounter with a genial family friend during an administrative meeting, and young lovers, Witek and Czuszka (Boguslawa Pawelec), walking alongside an isolated highway as revelers from a passing motorcar spout indelicate remarks at the unsuspecting couple. Years later, Witek, now a medical student, appears to have a brief moment of connection with a fellow student, Olga (Monika Gozdzik), before being thrown into personal crisis by the death of his emotionally estranged father. Unreconciled with the ambiguity of his father’s parting words, Witek asks his instructor for a leave of absence in the belief that his father’s enigmatic message has absolved him from following in his footsteps to become a physician. Now liberated from a sense of familial duty and unburdened by romantic entanglements, a hurried Witek purchases a last-minute student ticket at a station and frantically attempts to catch the departing Warsaw-bound train – an impulsive, yet seemingly innocuous act that would prove to have overreaching consequences and propel the adrift young man’s ambivalent future.

Krzysztof Kieslowski creates a structurally bold and challenging, yet visually elegant and innately lucid exposition on fate, chance, and coincidence in Blind Chance. Kieslowski experiments with elliptical, parallel narratives that depict seemingly mundane and anecdotal near encounters and synchronicity that would pervade his later work, most notably in The Double Life of Veronique and Three Colors: Red (note the image of matched hands separated by a window that prefigures the indelible image – and interconnected, but temporally non-coincident destinies – of Valentine and Joseph in Red) in order to create a thoughtful and provocative portrait on the malleability of fate. Note the literal and figurative divergence of Witek’s existential paths after attempting to catch the train, and Witek’s passing encounters with Czuszka, Werka (Marzena Trybala), and Olga during his youth that will be modulated by the consequences of Witek’s actions to shape the course of his intimate relationships. Moreover, Witek’s situational convergence at an international airport further implies a governing element of predestiny in everyday life. By presenting the mutable interconnection of fate, circumstance, and individual will, Blind Chance traces the complex and undefined, but ultimately inalterable trajectory of human destiny.

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