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Critically-acclaimed trilogy of French/Polish drama films directed by Krzysztof Kieślowski (also the director of Blind Chance and The Double Life of Veronique), and released in relatively close proximity to each other in 1993 - 1994.
They are named after the three colors in the French flag; blue, white and red, and each has a corresponding color motif. They are each loosely based on one of the three French revolutionary principles of liberty, equality and fraternity. The trilogy are also interpreted respectively as an anti-tragedy, an anti-comedy, and an anti-romance.
Trzy kolory. Niebieski (English: Three Colors: Blue, French: Trois Couleurs: Bleu) (1993): Based on the principle of liberty. After a famous composer dies in a car crash, his wife Julie (Juliette Binoche) retreats into seclusion, but various contacts and issues in the outside world force her to emerge again.
Trzy kolory. Biały (English: Three Colors: White, French: Trois Couleurs: Blanc) (1994): Based on the principle of equality. After the beloved wife of Polish hairdresser Karol Karol (Zbigniew Zamachowski) divorces him thus rendering him destitute, he makes it back to Poland, manages to make it big by blackmailing his bosses and then schemes to extract revenge on his wife.
Trzy kolory. Czerwony (English: Three Colors: Red, French: Trois Couleurs: Rouge) (1994): Based on the principle of fraternity. College student and part-time model Valentine Dusot (Irene Jacob) runs over the dog of retired judge Joseph Kern (Jean-Louis Trintignant), who spends his days eavesdropping on neighbors' phone calls. The two end up becoming friends.
Blue provides examples of:
- Author Existence Failure: Patrice.
- Babies Ever After: An example with a curious twist, since the pregnant woman is the mistress of Patrice.
- Fade to Black: Used to represent Julie’s difficulty to go on.
- Hooker with a Heart of Gold
- Leitmotif: The piece (supposedly) composed by Julie's husband keeps appearing at different times. Depending on the situation, the music comes different.
- Nice Guy: Julie is a female example. When she lets go of her angst, she helps a lot of people on her way, even providing her husband’s mistress and her unborn baby with Patrice’s old home.
- Playing Cyrano: Though it’s not outright stated, it’s implied that Julie could be the writer of his husband’s music.
- Offscreen Crash: Though we do see the car smashed immediately after.
- Ominous Latin Chanting: Except that it’s greek.
- What Do You Mean It's Not Awesome?: Julie performs a lot of simple actions with bombastic as background.
White provides examples of:
- Batman Gambit: Karol’s plan to take revenge against Dominique.
- Everything Is an Instrument: Comb and paper.
- Girl in a Box: This is how Karol travels to Poland.
- I Cannot Self-Terminate: Mikołaj.
- I Just Shot Marvin in the Face: Karol stares at the inside of a gun’s barrel.
- The Immodest Orgasm: Dominique.
- The Loins Sleep Tonight
- Repetitive Name: Karol Karol.
- Why We're Bummed Communism Fell
Red provides examples of:
- Crazy Jealous Guy: Valentine’s boyfriend. He’s not that crazy to commit a crime, but is very jealous.
- Man Child: Valentine’s boyfriend.
- Not So Different: Auguste’s life is very similar to Joseph. Fortunately for the former, his meeting with Valentine at the end of the film means his life probably won’t be the same as the judge (and maybe will turn out for the best).
- Platonic Life Partners: Valentine and Joseph. The age gap might have something to do with it, although he says to her: “Perhaps you’re the woman I never met”.
- Sliding Scale of Cynicism Versus Idealism: Valentine’s idealism vs Joseph’s cynicism. He ends up moving across the scale at the end, though.
The trilogy as a whole provides examples of:
- Continuity Nod: There are little details telling us the films are part of a same work, like characters from one movie making very brief cameos into another or old people recycling glass.
- Hikikomori: Julie in Blue, Kern in Red.
- Mythology Gag: Van den Budenmayer, a fictitious composer (even though he's treated as a real composer) mentioned in Blue and Red, was mentioned earlier in both The Decalogue and The Double Life of Veronique.
- Rainbow Motif: Blue for liberty, White for equality, Red for fraternity. You know, like in the French flag.
- Rule of Three: Obviously.
- Thematic Series: The series revolves around specific French ideals as opposed to specific characters.