Blue, 1993

Blue is a work of such eviscerating intensity that it is almost impossible to describe with words. For this reason, I cannot imagine anyone but Juliette Binoche playing the part of Julie Vignon de Courcy, the lone survivor in a car accident that claimed the lives of her husband, a renowned composer, and their young daughter. This is a devastating film that is not based on contrived dialogue, but on subtle actions. Julie’s grief is so profound that she cannot cry, nor even feel. She seems cold and silent, indifferent to her loss. Yet her body language tells us that she is in pain. The corner of her mouth slightly quivers as she traces her daughter’s casket through a television set. Her body goes limp when she approaches the doorway of her husband’s study. Her gaze turns protective and territorial when a neighbor touches a blue crystal mobile that once hung in her daughter’s room. Unable to live in the country estate with her painful memories, she abandons all of her possessions to start a new life. But physical distance cannot sever her from her past, withdrawing further into her grief, locked in enigmatic silence. Her husband’s business partner, Olivier (Benoit Regent), searches for her, offering a means of paying tribute to her husband’s legacy by collaborating on his unfinished reunification symphony, and attempts to bring closure. Blue is a beautifully realized, intimate, and intensely personal film on the process of healing and catharsis.

The use of blue imagery in the film is, paradoxically, the most elemental and most abstract of the colors in the trilogy. Indeed, blue is the color associated with grief. However, Kieslowski uses suffering as a means to illustrate the theme of cathartic liberation. Julie’s periodic swims in the pool (which appears blue at night), completion of her husband’s unfinished symphony (with a blue pen), and transfer of their country estate to his mistress (who is expecting a boy) are all symbolic acts of closure. Blue stands for liberté in the French flag. There is freedom in having nothing. There is also freedom in losing everything.

© Acquarello 1997. All rights reserved.

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