Colouring human relationships


Three Colours: Red
Directed by Krysztof Kieslowski
Starring Irene Jacob, Jean-Louis Trintignant
Reviewed by Vannessa Hearman and Karl Miller

The trilogy Blue, White and Red deals with the themes of liberty, equality and fraternity, developed during the French Revolution of 1789. Kieslowski deals with these ideals from an individual perspective, rather than a collective one, particularly in the realm of human relationships.

The last of the trilogy, Red deals with the theme of fraternity, of chance meetings and coincidences. It is set in Geneva and revolves around the lives of four people, which seem at first unconnected.

Valentine is a young student and model with a possessive boyfriend in England. Through sheer coincidence, after running down a dog, she meets a retired judge (Trintignant), the dog's owner. He is a desolate character, living alone and listening in on his neighbours' phone conversations.

Valentine is shocked by his actions, yet she finds herself irresistibly drawn to him. A friendship blooms, an unexpected and unusual fraternity.

Meanwhile, the film also charts the relationship of a young couple, Karin and Auguste. Auguste, who is preparing for his exams to be a judge, lives a stone's throw away from Valentine, but they are unaware of this. They pass each other many times without meeting. Karin lives in a building behind the judge's home and is among a number of his neighbours upon whom he spies. The judge and Auguste have more in common than they realise.

Red is aesthetically and technically flawless. Kieslowski also uses this visual mode to tell the story, using a technique that shows us initially a scene of little significance and returning to it, to reveal its importance later. It is ironic that he is trying to highlight the unknown bonds that we have with people by using a very precise, contrived method of creating "chance" from beginning to end.

The layout of Geneva was important in ensuring that the characters pass each other within a hair's breadth, but do not come into contact. It is interesting to consider the intricate webs that bind people and what could have been. However, whilst Red adds another dimension to the question of human relationships, it is an ephemeral one. The fraternity of Red is that we are all pawns to destiny. However, ultimately, we must actively confront and tackle the circumstances that we find ourselves in.

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