Three (Cheers) for the Quad!
When Krzysztof Kieślowski died in 1996 he left behind a huge body of work that was quirky, deep, original, and often—like the Cold War Poland in which he had learned and practiced his art—darkly funny and forever mysterious. Of all his films, it is his Trilogy (Blue, White, and Red) that remains a landmark of European cinema. The colors are those of the French flag, and the films’ themes express liberty, equality, and fraternity in ways that only Kieślowski could imagine them.
Often the Trilogy is shown on the fly, one third at a time. So we owe a debt of gratitude to the Quad Cinema for not only booking all three, but scheduling them so that they can be seen in sequence, the way Kieślowski intended. It’s what cinema is all about, and thrillingly rich enough to warrant an all-afternoon binge. Even better: the Quad is offering a Trilogy special of $24 for all three films. It’s booked to run from August 17-23, so grab it! http://www.quadcinema.com/
The films are loosely linked, and each is, in a way, about love, but each has its own cast and character: Blue, starring Juliette Binoche (as a widow who has lost both husband and child in an accident), follows her through the pain of grief and isolation, shadowed by her husband’s music. Her liberty is to be won only by navigating a complex tangle of conflicting relationships, memories and, ultimately, emotional transformations. Kieślowski loved music, and it defines the story as much as the actors, the décor, and the cinematography.
White is funny—at times hilariously so—but is also a sly commentary on Poland’s swift embrace of capitalism after its years of domination by the Nazis and the Communists. Its hero has himself smuggled back to his native Poland in a suitcase after losing everything in Paris, intending to start over, while carrying out a revenge fantasy against his unfaithful French wife. Kieślowski proves himself as adept at comedy as he is at the somber depths of grief, and as ingenious at its complications as well.
Red (God, it’s satisfying!) is a masterpiece; Kieślowski’s last film, and the one in which he effortlessly considers all life’s big questions while wrapping up the Trilogy in a cunning and shamelessly romantic finale. We won’t give it away, but you will find it hard not to cheer even as tears run down your cheeks. But that’s Kieślowski for you.
If you want to sustain the mood after the screen goes dark and the lights come up, stroll over to some of the East Village’s Polish restaurants for the real thing. Sweet, sour, light, heavy. And there’s Polish vodka aplenty to help you channel the filmmaker in retrospect.