Sadness and love are a pure, strong song in Krzysztof Kieslowski’s first ‘movement’ of the Three Colours Trilogy. The music, scored by Zbigniew Preisner, and based around the Song for the unification of Europe (inspired by the Greek text of the New Testament’s 1 Corinthians 13) cradles Julie’s (Juliette Binoche) emptiness as she grieves the death of her composer husband and their daughter. She is left alone with a wide wound and Kieslowski shows us how she heals.
Julie’s response is to empty herself: ‘I don’t want any belongings, any memories. No friends, No love. Those are all traps.’ Keeping only a blue glass chandelier, she sells their big house and all its possessions. Julie makes love to her musician colleague (a ‘last connection’), and then cuts herself off. She moves into a small apartment in Paris, and remains unknown.
Kieslowski directs Binoche so her sadness echoes in a cave, one that is seemingly endless, with no far wall. Binoche’s performance is majestic, her face showing grief from her heart, and her intellect. Kieslowski’s images, after several viewings, now sit in my mind as a series of spiritual icons, navigating a path for Julie, guiding her through her melancholy. There is the image of Julie’s eye reflecting the TV screen in the hospital, Julie running her hand along the garden wall, the image of her looking at the blue chandelier in her apartment, and sitting in a café, listening to a street-musician play, by some extraordinary coincidence, phrases from the Song for the unification of Europe.
Slowly, through a friendship with her neighbour (a marginalised sex-worker) and meeting her late-husband’s mistress, Julie’s life is resurrected by her compassion and desire to forgive. She finds her freedom, her ‘blue’ in the ‘Tricolour’.
Julie is then ready to seek collaboration and finish the music for the Song for the unification for Europe. The exquisite music, alongside Julie’s journey, is a cinematic psalm to what love can achieve, personally and collectively. A much-needed reminder in these times, too, that living in a collective Europe should concern respect, collaboration and compassion, not just administration and commerce.
Director: Krzysztof Kieslowski