Appreciate the Poetic Cinematography in Trois Couleurs : Bleu

Experience watching a movie without the sound, relaying only on visuals: you’ll start to see new layers of comprehension, association of ideas… This is why Trois Couleurs : Bleu is such a meaningful movie to me. Directed by Krzysztof Kieslowski in 1993, it is the first part of the three-color triptych blue/white/red that successively explores France’s motto: “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity”. Its cinematography is signed by Slawomir Idziak.

After the death of her husband, an acclaimed composer and her young daughter in a car accident, Julie de Courcy (Juliette Binoche) destroys what is left behind of them, and starts living in solitude in the Parisian metropolis, isolating herself from her ties. A very intimate journey, where she will find that she can’t free herself from human connections.

What seems to be a story about death, actually turns into an affirmation of life, and all along the movie the presence of that soft and delicate light caressing the characters helps to convey this feeling, reminding you the fragile nature of life. Idziak’s use of color and light, combined with his great filter work, serves to further explore Julie’s character. None of the close-ups fully illuminate her face, hinting her vulnerability, as the delicate eye-lights bring alive her emotions. I would mention also the importance of the music which strikes at key moments throughout the film, suffusing Julie in blue light.

There are many references to the three colors of the flag, and in this episode obviously, the blue’s idea of freedom is widely represented. As Julie seeks to erase all traces of her life, the image of her daughter’s hand holding a sheet of creased blue tinsel out of the car window while looking curiously out the back window as the car enters a tunnel keeps hunting her. Then, the deep blue swimming pool is like a sanctuary for Julie. A subtle painting that makes reference to the structure of the three colors when children dressed in white bathing suits with red floaters jump into the blue swimming pool.

The final shot of Binoche staring directly at the camera with a tear running down is truly heartbreaking, gazing right at us, right into our soul. This amazing performance by Juliette Binoche was rewarded with a César for best actress in 1993. It is definitely a must-see [for photographers], that you can watch several times to look at subtle nuances and appreciate its cinematography.

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