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Three Colours Trilogy (Blue/White/Red) [UK] Blu-ray Review

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The Films

[Rating:4.5/5]

I don’t know that I can describe Krzystof Kieṡlowski’s (The Double Life of Veronique) Three Colours (Trois couleurs) as eloquently as our very own Chris Chiarella did in the TheaterByte Holiday Gift Guide 2011 and as Lawrence Devoe did in his review of the Criterion Collection release of Three Colors Trilogy, but I shall try my best.

A symphony of post-cold war European life taking as its inspiration the tri-color of the French flag, blue, white, and red, symbolizing liberty, equality, and fraternity or brotherhood, Three Colours: Blue, White, and Red is probably the greatest cinematic achievement of the late 20th century. As far as trilogies go, no other trilogy is as artistically cohesive, as moving, and as inherently European as Three Colours. From the moving musical score, so reminiscent of the classical greats by Zbigniew Preisner, to the mixture of Euro cultures in White, Kieṡlowski modeled a fragment of continental life, the good, the bad, and mundane, that is honest and intriguing. Each film’s color palette is dominated by its symbolic color, most difficultly captured in White, where each scene contains a white object.

True to its name, Blue is a film drenched in melancholy and grief, following the life of Julie (Juliette Binoche) who has suffered the tragedy of losing her husband, a famous composer, and daughter in a car accident and is now trying desperately to liberate herself from her previous life. She moves out of her house into an apartment in the suburbs of Paris, but memories of her old life make it difficult for her to throw off her old life and start anew.

White finds the Polish hairdresser Karol Karol (Zbigniew Zamachowski) thrown out of his home and divorced by his French wife Domique (Julie Delpy), leaving him destitute and begging for money in the Paris subways. When a compatriot named Mikolaj (Janusz Gajos) approaches him with an unusual job back home in Poland, Karol is smuggled back into his homeland in his suitcase. There, he begins building up a business and becomes a successful businessman, but he cannot get over the memory of his ex-wife. Soon he begins plotting a complex plan to get Dominique to Poland and make her pay for breaking his heart.

Finally, with Red,  the trilogy wraps up with the story of fashion model Valentine (Irène Jacob) who accidentally runs over a dog, which leads her to the owner, a retired judge (Jean-Louis Trintignant) who spies on his neighbors’ phone conversations and wants to be done with life. Valentine slowly builds a friendship with the cantankerous old judge. Meanwhile his neighbors’ lives play out in ways that will have connections to Valentine that are not obvious at first glance.

Video Quality

[Rating:4.5/5]

These AVC/MPEG-4 1080p/24 transfers from Artificial Eye look rather strong and filmic with beautiful flesh tones and good reproduction of grain. Contrast is strong, but could possibly have been just a bit better, as darks don’t always look quite as deep as I would like them to be and the overall image sometimes flattens, but shadow details are greatly extended and I see no evidence of edge enhancement or compression artifacts.

Audio Quality

[Rating:4/5]

Two acceptable audio tracks are provided for each film, one in LPCM 2.0 Stereo (48kHz/24-bit) and one in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.0 (48kHz/24-bit). The 5.0 surround mixes, more subtle and ambient than full-on and bombastic, seem to allow more breathing room. They have more dynamic range and slightly more subtle high frequencies across the board. The stereo mixes, on the other hand, seem to be generally louder and have sound effects pushed forward a bit more in the mix with less range and a slightly more jarring high frequency response. Both mixes, however, have some crackle in the dialogue on occasion, particularly when voices rise.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:3.5/5]

Each film in the trilogy is provided with a “Masterclass” by Kieṡlowski in which the director discusses filming a particular scene from the film. There are also interviews with the cast and crew, “making ofs” with behind-the-scenes footage and interviews, plus the original theatrical trailers duplicated across each disc. Nothing here seems to be original content for this new Blu-ray release, however, and is entirely in standard definition PAL.

The supplements:

Blue:

  • Krzystof Kieṡlowski’s Masterclass (1994) (1.33:1; SD/PAL; 00:07:30)
  • Interviews (1.78:1; SD/PAL):
    • Juliet Binoche
    • Jacque Witta, Editor
    • Main Karmitz, Producer
  • Theatrical Trailers (1.33:1; SD/PAL):
    • Three Colours Blue
    • Three Colours White
    • Three Colours Red

White:

  • Krzystof Kieṡlowski’s Masterclass (1994) (1.33:1; PAL; 00:10:45)
  • Interviews (1.33:1; SD/PAL):
    • Julie Delpy
    • Marin Karmitz, Producer
  • The Making Of (1.33:1; SD/PAL; 00:17:13)
  • Theatrical Trailers (1.33:1; SD/PAL)
    • Three Colours Blue
    • Three Colours White
    • Three Colours Red

Red:

  • Krzystof Kieṡlowski’s Masterclass (1994) (1.33:1; SD/PAL; 00:08:39)
  • Interviews (SD/PAL):
    • Irène Jacob
    • Jacques Witta, Editor
    • Marin Karmitz, Producer
  • The Making Of (1.33:1; SD/PAL; 00:23:23)
  • Kieṡlowski, Cannes 1994 (1.33:1; SD/PAL; 00:15:08)
  • Theatrical Trailers (1.33:1; SD/PAL)
    • Three Colours Blue
    • Three Colours White
    • Three Colours Red

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:4/5]

I was a bit late to the DVD scene, not getting my first player until 2005, but one of the first titles I picked up was the Miramax release of Three Colors Trilogy. Each film in the set was instantly among my favorites from the moment I first saw them. I still own that original DVD set, and I now own the Criterion Blu-ray set and this Artificial Eye set on Blu-ray. I highly recommend this to everyone; it will move you in ways you never thought possible.

Additional Screen Captures

Blue

White

Red

[amazon-product region=”uk” tracking_id=”bluraydefinit-21″]B005EYJV70[/amazon-product]

 

 

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