Colour Me Kieslowski

Krzysztof Kieslowski (27/6/41 – 13/3/96)

For anyone who’s ever seen a Krzysztof Kieslowski film, it’s an experience they won’t likely forget. His style was idiosyncratic, full of tantalising visual clues, metaphors and references (think of the use of reflection and distortion in Double Life Of Veronique); his films were full of coincidences, parallel lives and recurring motifs, from the physical (the old lady who struggles to deposit her glass bottle in the recycling bin in both Double Life Of Veronique and, again, in Red – both starring Irene Jacob) to the metaphysical (the clash between cynicism and idealism and the passage from despair and solitude to redemptive compassion). He was a film-maker who, though often noted for being dour in person (one Guardian interviewer likened him to Samuel Beckett’s Vladimir – and to a Rubic Cube), was characterised by a supreme generosity in his work – the generosity of the film-maker who, rather than offering explanations for every action, allows the viewer to interpret for themselves – handing the film over, relinquishing authorship/ownership, inviting the audience to participate, to penetrate, to give and to take.

When he announced at 52 that he was retiring from the film-making world, he stated that he felt film was not only a dishonest profession, but that it had not the requisite intelligence to properly capture and portray the inner life: “Literature can achieve this, cinema can’t,” he said, “It’s not intelligent enough. Consequently, it’s not equivocal enough. Yet, at the same time, while being too explicit, it’s also too equivocal” (Danusia Stok (ed.), Kieslowski On Kieslowski). His films are rarely explicit, but rather they carry a transcendent sense of the bittersweet that stays with the viewer until long after the film is done.

Kieslowski died in 1996 at 54. Today he would have been 70. Here are some of his greatest – and most beautiful – works:

The Double Life Of Veronique (1991)

Winner of Best Actress and the FIPRESCI Prizes and nominated for the Palme d’Or at Cannes


Three Colours Trilogy (1993-94)

Red: Nominated for the Palme d’Or at Cannes

Blue Trailer:

White Trailer:

Red Trailer:

Short Film About Killing (1988)

Winner of the FIPRESCI and The Jury Prize and nominated for the Palme d’Or at Cannes


Kieslowski’s top ten films (in no particular order), as requested by Sight and Sound:

La Strada by Fellini; Kes by Ken Loach; Un Condamné à mort s’est echappé by Robert Bresson; The Pram by Widerberg; Intimate Lighting by Ivan Passer; The Sunday Musicians by Karabasz; Ivan’s Childhood by Tarkovsky; Les Quatre cents coups by Truffaut; Citizen Kane by Orson Welles; The Kid by Chaplin.

Guardian interview:

posted by Dixie Turner

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1 Comment

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