THE SCAR / BLIZNA
(1976; 104 minutes)
Bednarz (Franciszek Pieczka) is aware that the site for the factory he is taking over is a bad one, and that this huge combine will pose a real threat to the environment. On the other hand, new jobs are in the offing and the area's standard of living will improve markedly. Despite his good intentions, Bednarz is ultimately defeated by the terrible abyss between reality and desire. One critic of Kieslowski's first feature wrote that "THE SCAR is not...about mistakes.... it is basically...about the maturation process of a society towards profound, intelligent, and human socialism."
POINT OF VIEW OF THE NIGHT WATCHMAN/
Z PUNKTU WIDZENIA NOCNEGO PORTIERA
( 1977; 18 minutes)
The nightporter's POV is fixed, inflexible--he is a fanatic on the subject of rules and regulations, at work and off duty., whether fishing with friends or admonishing kids trying to play hooky.
CAMERA BUFF / AMATOR
(1979; 112 minutes)
Father of a brand-new baby girl, factory-worker Filip Mosz buys an 8mm camera to make home movies and finds himself slowly but surely metamorphosing into an artist. An avatar of Kieslowski, Mosz embarks on a journey into the nature of filmmaking, learning along the way--from no less a guide than Krzysztof Zanussi--how much the man behind the camera must lose in order to frame truth and beauty. "CAMERA BUFF," writes Jim Emerson, "is a celebration of the glories of the cinema, and a vivid examination of its perils. [It] plays with the reflexive properties of the 'supreme art': the cinema as vehicle for fantasy-fulfillment and 'record' of reality; as a way of avoiding and distancing oneself from reality; as powerful political tool and medium for personal expression; as memory and imagination."
NO END / BEZ KONCA
(1984; 107 minutes)
The ghost of a young lawyer observes the world as it is after martial law. Three motifs are interwoven in his vision: A worker accused of being an activist with the opposition and whom the young lawyer was to defend, is now being defended by an older, experienced colleague resigned to a degree of compromise. The lawyer's widow realizes only after her husband's death how much she loved him and tries to come to terms with her emptiness. And there's the metaphysical element, according to Kieslowski: "That is, the signs which emanate from the man who's not there anymore, towards all that he's left behind."
The THREE COLORS
Trilogy is titled in the hues of the French revolutionary flag, the Tricolor, and the films constitute ironic and mysterious meditations on the three ideals of the French Revolution: liberty, equality and fraternity. Set in Paris, Warsaw and Geneva, BLUE, WHITE and RED are not obviously connected in matters of plot or characters, until almost all the principals appear together at the conclusion of RED. Kieslowski testifies that he and co-writer Krzysztof Piesiewicz "looked very closely at the three ideas, how they functioned in everyday life, but from an individual's point of view....When you deal with [the ideas] practically, you do not know how to live with them. Do people really want liberty, equality, fraternity?"
In BLUE, a young woman (Juliette Binoche) loses her conductor-husband and daughter in a car accident, and subsequently enters a strange, rarefied zone of loss and liberty. There, she re-examines truths about husband, self, and every aspect of their lives together. Kieslowski has compared himself to a physicist looking at the microscopic elements of life, and in this voluptuously melancholy film, he's clearly after nothing less than the anatomy of a damaged soul. Winner of the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival. (98 minutes)
WHITE's "hero" is an endearlingly Chaplinesque schlemiel who adores his beautiful wife (Julie Delpy) with such passion that he's sexually impotent in her arms. After his cold sweetheart strips him emotionally and materially, Karol returns to Poland, where a series of darkly droll and highly lucrative events permits him to turn the tables on--and achieve a weird equality with--the woman forever imprisoned in his heart. A black comedy, winner of the Golden Bear at the Berlin Festival. (90 minutes)
Blind chance, fate, random accidents, coincidence, fragile patterns--these are the magical ingredients of the THREE COLORS trilogy, but they especially dominate the deeply moving and richly satisfying RED. A beautiful model named Valentine (Irčne Jacob) crosses paths with a retired judge (Jean-Louis Trintignant), whose dog she has run over with her car. The lonely judge, she discovers, amuses himself by eavesdropping on all of his neighbors' phone conversations. Near Valentine's apartment lives a young man (Jean-Pierre Lorit) who aspires to be a judge and loves a woman who will betray him. From these characters' proximity, and the exquisitely mysterious textures of cinematic singularity and connection, Kieslowski draws an astonishing affirmation of life--and art. Jacob is mesmerizing, but Trintignant transcends his role, becoming an arresting projection of the director, a deus ex machina. (95 minutes)
BLIND CHANCE / PRZYPADEK
(1981; 122 minutes)
Young Witek Dlugosz, the sum of his father's expectations, family traditions, and environmental pressure, suddenly throws everything over: he quits medical school, catches a train out of town, and eventually becomes a leading light in a Communist youth group. Or: he misses the train and finds God plus the love of a complicated Jewish woman. or: perhaps he resumes his medical sutdies. Witek's life changes utterly, depending on whether he catches the trains and planes that carry him into possible futures. Posing alternate realities, Kieslowski delicately probes the elusive mysteries of character and fate.
THE DOUBLE LIFE OF VERONIQUE
(1991; 96 minutes)
This lovely, mysterious work is about two linked Veronicas, one Polish, the other French, both played by the luminous Irčne Jacob. The first part of THE DOUBLE LIFE gives us glimpses of a young woman in Cracow: singing in the rain and in a professional setting, making love with her boyfriend.... Once, in a city square, Veronika catches sight of a face that mirrors her own, and, in that moment, some kind of mystical circuit fires. The second half of this sublime film focuses on the French Veronique's life, through which the "ghost" of Veronika weaves. Critic Henry Sheehan claims that THE DOUBLE LIFE turns on "a profound Christian mysticism in which the dualism of things--the immanence of lovemaking and the transcendence of music--is contained within a single spiritual system."
KRZYSZTOF KIESLOWSKI: I'M SO-SO
Krzysztof Wierzbicki, Denmark/Poland, 1995; 56 minutes,
"When Americans asked me, 'How are you?,' I said 'So-so.' It was enough for me to say 'So-so' and they immediately thought something tragic had happened. You can't say 'So-so.' You have to say 'Well' or 'Very well.' The most optimistic thing I can say is 'I'm still alive.'" "It's difficult, so soon after Kieslowski's death, to watch this short film about the director without being shocked once again at the cruelty of fate, but one is nonetheless glad to have it. The post-retirement Kieslowski was such an oddly comforting figure--happily chain-smoking, his back turned forever on the big-money boys, busy doing nothing--that one is surprised to find it only partially borne out by the facts. Though pleased to recall past glories, the Kieslowski of Wierzbicki's interviews is by no means resting on his laurels. Plans for future projects are clearly bubbling beneath the surface, though his characteristic lack of gung-ho enthusiasm means we might still be waiting, even had he lived. For cinéastes and Kieslowskians this film is essential, but who wouldn't want an extra hour in the company of a great man who was also such a cool guy?"