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Location: Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh, India

The permanent temptation of life is to confuse dreams with reality. The permanent defeat of life is when dreams are surrendered to reality.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Destiny and Chance - The Three Colours, Red...not a review

Watching Krzysztof Kieslowski’s the Three Colours trilogy back to back was one of my most satisfying experiences in recent times. Just finished watching the final part, Red, which I believe is the strongest of the trilogy.

How many times have we wondered about destiny and chance, predetermination and randomness and if we really are just playing our parts in a grand script or making it up as we go along.

Trapped in a loveless relationship, Valentina is a model leading a placid life until one day she runs over and injures a dog. The owner of the dog, a retired Judge, tells her to keep the dog if she wants and appears taciturn, blunt and dour. On the day she comes to return the excess money paid by the Judge to treat the dog's injury, she finds out that the Judge spends his time eavesdropping on his neighbour’s phone calls. Though initially repulsed by him, Valentina gradually takes to the Judge and soon they start spending time together and develop a strong platonic bond.

Told in parallel is the story of Auguste, a Law student, and Karin who are apparently in love with each other. Though Auguste is Valentina's neighbour and their paths cross on a number of occasions, they hardly acknowledge each other's presence and are barely aware about the other’s existence, but events transpire that raises questions about chance and destiny.

In one of their last meetings the Judge tells Valentina about his past and how he did love once. He speaks of how he was betrayed and how he humiliated he felt. He never loved again and he tells Valentina, '...I never met another person I could love. You are probably the woman I never met'. He tells about how his anger translated into him giving the wrong judgement to the person his lover went away with and unable to come to terms with it, sought early retirement.

Auguste, who is a Judge now, realizes that Karin is having an affair with another person and he is devastated. It becomes clear that Auguste's life mirrors the Judge's life thirty years ago...and forces are at work...why?

I liked the end where the characters from Blue and White are shown for a brief moment...it certainly brings a closure to what Kieslowski attempted with his trilogy on the three ideals of liberty, equality and fraternity (my mind goes back to my history textbook in tenth standard...where I think we had to learn about the French revolution and about Rousseau, Voltaire and Garibaldi).

This is one of the most 'visual' movies I have watched in a long time. While in Blue, it was music that grabbed hold of you in its soothing embrace, what really blew me over in this was the dark and rich look of the movie with frames saturated in red, there is always something that is 'rouge' in almost each and every frame.

Irene Jacob as Valentina, looking vulnerable and delectable, is just perfect...she is beautiful in a very cute sort of way. But I thought the standout performance was by the guy (I am ashamed to say I didn't get his name) who played the Judge. To play a cold, distant and aloof person but yet bring out a sense of warmth or niceness, if you will, without resorting to histrionics or grandness is quite...quite amazing. Beneath that subtlety there is a hint at something more...as if he is not quite the person he is.

I don't know if it was just me, but I need to watch this one couple of times more...'cause am sure I missed a lot. This is the kind of movie that demands several viewing before you can even try and understand it completely. If you look at it, a lot is thrown around to stimulate you....to make you think. Is Auguste, the Judge himself, albeit in another parallel plane...is the Judge really who he claims to be, because he seems to be moving the pieces. It looks like it is his quest to make sure that Valentina and Auguste meet up and probably complete the story of his (the Judge's) unfinished story. Remember he tells Valentina that she might the person he never met and I have a feeling he is making sure that she ends up with Auguste. Here also there is no evidence of the relationship been anything but platonic and there is not underlying strand of it being anything more than that. Just before they spilt up before Valentina is going on her vacation, he asks to see the ticket...why? Also, it was he who suggested her to take the ferry and not the flight...did he know what was going to happen...did he orchestrate it...if so, is he...? The ending itself can open up a debate on how they all got there in the first place...and what is the significance of only seven people surviving in the boat tragedy and who is the seventh person. Coincidentally the dog that was injured in the beginning of the movie also gives birth to seven puppies...is there a connection, I wonder?

There are more coincidences (?) strewn about in the movie and am sure I will catch some more of them the next time I watch the movie...it may add up to more questions, but what the hell...rarely does anything stimulate you these days and I need my fix.

Red, the third colour on the French flag signifies fraternity.

I am now looking for 'Decalogue' and the 'Double life of Veronique.'

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