30 October, 2004


I think we can state with certainty that I don't "get" films; not even when they're praised by religious types.

Encouraged by several reviews I've read, including some Catholic reviews, I watched Krzysztof Kieszlowski's Blue. It stars Juliette Binoche as the widow of a composer who left a major work unfinished at the time of his death ("for the Concert of the Unification of Europe"). Grief overwhelms the woman, and she withdraws from the world, trying to shut off all her emotions. Over time, she gradually emerges from her shell... but to what end?

The Catholic bishops' review refers to the film as having a hopeful ending, but I didn't think it was particularly hopeful. Okay: the musical work was completed, by the person who probably started it, no less. (This is something of an understated surprise.) That's hopeful?

Consider this: the last image I remember of Juliette Binoche, was her face pushed up repeatedly against glass, looking as though she was having no thoughts at all. I'm not sure what the point of that was, but I understand "what was going on at the immediate moment," and the image appalls me.

To me, the film depicts a bleak, godless world barren of any hope beyond this theme: I do it because I like to. I think everyone likes to. (Probably not a verbatim quote, but close.) Maybe I misunderstood, but that's pretty much the only thing I understood about anyone's actions in the film. Even the supposed generosity of Juliette Binoche's character: she is praiseworthy because your husband told me that's the person you are: generous and kind, the sort you can depend on — in other words, she only came back to the person she originally was; she didn't become someone new.

Obviously, I came to the film with preconceived expectations. That's a preconception with which I'm approaching a lot of films and books these days: will it challenge me to go outside of who I am normally? I need something to inspire me. These expectations went unfulfilled; as a result, I'm being unfair to what is at least a well-made film. I only wish I understood his point.


jack perry said...

Elliott: if you read this far, it's still my plan to watch Kieslowski's Heaven, as you recommended. I'd forgotten which film you'd recommended, and Blue leapt out at me from the store shelf.

Anonymous said...

I haven't seen Blue yet, myself.

"Heaven," also, is at first a little puzzling from a Christian standpoint. There is an odd confession scene, though, that nearly brought me to tears the first time I saw it.

This article on Kieslowski has some insightful film criticism, and includes a few words on Blue:


jack perry said...

Thanks :-) I hadn't thought that the recurring music might be the gentle, insistent voice of God. It's a little too obscure for me.

If you ever watch it, tell me what you think, and if you think that last scene with Juliette Binoche negates what Kieslowski is trying to say (as I think) or reinforces it.