Scenes I Go Back To: Blue

Borders on something transcendental and spiritual.

Blue was the first Krzysztof Kieślowski film I ever saw, and it’s still my favorite film of his. While its two companion films in the “Three Colors” trilogy — Red and White — are excellent in their own way, Blue resonates with me in a way that they don’t, and few other films do.

Juliette Binoche gives a career best performance as Julie, a woman who has begun cutting herself off from human contact following the death of her husband and young daughter in a car accident. Julie spends her days lounging around Paris and living as a hermit in her apartment, avoiding anything above the most fleeting of interactions. However, her repressed grief won’t stay that way, and neither will the music her husband — a famous composer — wrote remain silent.

In the film’s most arresting scenes, Julie suddenly finds herself overwhelmed with emotions long fought against. Kieślowski allows us to enter her experience as her husband’s music comes crashing over her while delicate blue lights — a recurring visual motif — dance across her face.

This happens several times throughout the movie, but the one I often think about takes place as Julie swims in an empty, cavernous pool. As if she prefers drowning to facing her grief, she stays underwater as long as possible while the camera pans across the now-still surface of the pool. She bursts from the water, and suddenly, the light and music overwhelm her once again, crying out for her to face her grief and return to the world of the living.

It’s a beautiful scene, one in which the visuals, the sounds, and Binoche’s performance are absolutely in tune with one another, and the result borders on something transcendental and spiritual.

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