Krzysztof Kieslowski’s Three Colours Trilogy is a stunning cinematic achievement. Named after the colors of the French flag, Blue (1993), White (1994), and Red (1994), are each loosely themed after one of the three political ideals of the French Revolution: “Liberty, equality, and fraternity.” Each film is masterfully shot with a color palette reflecting its title, and the images — rich with visual flourishes and symbolism — are accentuated by composer Zbignieew Preisner’s assured original music. Each movie has a unique tone and they all feature strong performances from their female leads (Juliette Binoche, Julie Delpy, and Irene Jacob). The great Polish filmmaker’s trilogy fully realizes the potential of the medium and it’s a prime example of cinema functioning as art.
In October, it was announced that Black Dragon Press enlisted Los Angeles based artist/illustrator Victo Ngai to tackle Kieslowski’s Three Colours. Her poster for Blue was revealed and it was immediately obvious that this is a special pairing. Her image perfectly captures the movie with an approach and eye for detail that Kieslowski himself would appreciate. BDP is selling the poster individually and as a set, and even though 2 of the images were yet to be revealed the choice to throw down for a set was a no-brainer.
Today, BDP revealed the poster for Three Colours: White and it’s magnificent. Check it out:
***On sale here this Friday, December 9, 2016 at 3pm UK time (9am CST)***
‘Three Colours: White’ by Victo Ngai
18″ x 27″ 7-colour screen print
270gsm Mohawk Superfine White Paper
Hand numbered, gallery stamp on reverse
Printed by White Duck Screenprint
Limited Edition of 160
Once again, Ngai has boiled the themes of the film down to a single image, rich with metaphor and symbolism. The movie stars Zbigniew Zamachowski as Karol Karol, a man so down on his luck one would think his name is Job Job. The film opens in France with Karol’s beautiful wife, Dominique (the effervescently ruthless Julie Delpy) divorcing him due to his inability to consummate the marriage. The Polish citizen is stripped of his identification, money, and possessions, and left to wallow in his own misery while playing a pocket comb in the subway for chump change. Upon hearing a familiar tune, fellow Pole, Mikołaj (Janusz Gajos) approaches Karol and they become friends. In hilarious fashion, they devise an unconventional plan to sneak the deflated man back into Poland — a new, post-communism, pro-consumerism Poland where everything is for sale. Karol sees an opportunity to surmount his rise and he seizes it, despite the venture’s shady nature. He plots his revenge on Dominique in an effort to restore equality to his life and their relationship.
Three Colours: White has a very unique tone. Roger Ebert referred to it as an ‘anti-comedy.’ Kieslowski called it a ‘lyrical comedy’ and a ‘sad comedy.’ Most of the laughs come at the expense of Karol Karol and one can’t help but smirk at the
curveballs bean balls life pitches him. White feels lighter than its bookends, but there is much depth and no shortage of social commentary on the director’s changing homeland. It’s the only film in the trilogy where the male lead has a heftier role than his co-star, and its visuals are certainly less opulent and more bleak than Blue or Red.
After Dominique tells Karol that she’ll never visit Poland, dismissing him and his country, he walks by a shop that is selling a bust of Marianne, the national symbol of the French Republic and an allegory of liberty (a theme of the trilogy). The bust resembles Dominique, and unable to attain the real thing, Karol steals her porcelain doppelgänger and takes it back to Poland. When it shatters, he carefully puts it back together and loves it despite its broken nature.
Victo Ngai’s concepts for the first two posters show an explicit understanding of the trilogy. They’re the first Three Colours posters I’ve seen that aren’t just a photograph of the female star floating over a background the color of the film’s title. For nearly 10 years I’ve had a cheap set of promotional posters (pictured below) hanging on my wall and I’m thrilled to be able to replace them with something more artistic and considered. Props to Black Dragon Press for making this officially licensed set happen and cheers to Victo for making art that is worthy of the legendary filmmaker’s consummate trilogy.
The Three Colours Trilogy is available as a set on Criterion Blu-ray. Highly recommended.
*In the States we refer to it as the Three Colors Trilogy. In the UK they refer to it as the Three Colours Trilogy (with a ‘u’). For the sake of uniformity, I spelled it the same way throughout the article and since Black Dragon Press is based in the UK and their press release uses the ‘u’ I went with their spelling. If that offends you (and I’m sure it offends someone somewhere) sorry, not sorry.
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