A "Blue," "White," and "Red" Christmas


Not many shopping days remain for those buying holiday gifts so if you were thinking of getting me a little something, this boxed set of Krzysztof Kieslowki's "Three Colors" trilogy, one of my all-time favorites, would have been a perfect stocking stuffer had the kind Criterion people not already sent me a copy. Money or food would be an acceptable alternative for me, but this item would still be an excellent choice for any special film-lover on your list.

The set offers not just the three films "Blue" (1993),  "White" (1994), and "Red" (1994) but also a generous selection of extras, including the documentary "Krzysztof Kieslowki: I'm So-So,"  some of Kieslowski's student films and early documentaries, a short by a fellow Lodz Film School student called "The Face" starring the 24-year-old Kieslowski as a tormented, narcissistic artist (he looks a bit like a nerdier Jean-Paul Belmondo), and illuminating video essays by three outstanding film writers - Annette Innsdorf ("On Blue"), Tony Rayns ("On White"), and Dennis Lim ("On Red"). I found especially fascinating the "Krzysztof Kieslowki Cinema Lessons" with each film, which provide great insight into the director's intricate  formal strategies, and the "Making Of" mini-documentaries which demonstrate how much of a hands-on director he was; for example, while shooting a storm scene in "Red," Kieslowski stands on a ladder shaking a "windblown" tree branch.

Most affecting, however, are the interviews with Kieslowski's colleagues and friends, including cast members such as Juliette Binoche, Irene Jacob, and Zibigniew Zamachowski and crew members such as his cinematographer Slawomir Idziak and his co-screenwriter Krzysztof Piesiewicz.

In one interview Kieslowski's life-long collaborator, composer Zbigniew Preisner;  recalls a dream he had recently of his friend, who died in 1996 at the age of 54. "I dreamed we were in Paris.  Krzysztof was there. He said, ‘Boys, let's start another film.' I say, ‘Krzysztof, you're dead!' [He says] ‘I know a lot of people say I'm dead. But I'm alive. I'll be around.'" This collection would tend to prove him right.

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