Thursday, June 12, 2008


Blanc (in English, White) is easily the film lacking layers in Kieślowski's Trois Couleurs trilogy. Though interestingly it is the film having the most rich storyline out of the three. Both Bleu and Rouge have stories that are simple if you consider a story by the number of events that happen and the number of twists that the tale takes. Yet, both are exceedingly rich in metaphors, in cinematic challenges achieved, in the psychological depths that they enter into through their characters and of their characters, and both are extremely thought-provoking.

Not so the case with Blanc. It is kind of a very black comedy, and a complete inverse interpretation of the old phrase, "Everything's fair in love and war". Instead of the camera hiding layers this time, it's the protagonist, the inscrutable, calm, seemingly coward but clinging-on kind of person, Karol Karol, the Polish hairdresser, who hides layers, who makes the viewer queasy right from the start that something is up in this brain, this is no ordinary person who will take his destiny lying down. And the object of his love and lust is so typically the Parisian dumb gorgeous model, Dominique Vidal, that you feel hate for Karol Karol for having a noble sentiment for such a woman, and at the same time you yourself would like to strike down that vindictive woman who is so fair otherwise, and to the world.

The real charm that Kieślowksi manages to weave into the movie is the absolute "whiteness" of the character Karol Karol. He doesn't seem to ever have any semblance of dignity. He happily becomes a beggar, is packed in a trunk, beaten up by thugs, beaten up by the real estate scamsters later, and fakes his corpse; and has impotent sex with Vidal; and yet, he never fails, he just moves on. The lack of dignity does not bother him at all, he has accepted it already as part of his bargain. Except an inordinate lust for Vidal, he does not show any emotions on his face, and just cooly bargains through everywhere - whether it be the number of heads he has to do, or the plot to sell to the scamsters. Spotless white, even though he crosses borders with fake passports. He makes a lot of money, maybe from something illegal, but he uses it all not for himself, but for a very 'white purpose'. Many people search for the "whiteness" in this film in the same way they have looked at Bleu's blue and Rouge's red. But instead here we have the stunning reclining figure of Vidal in red silken sheets, the neon sign that blazes happily for a new Poland though the village seems to be as sleepy as it ever must have been (brilliant political satire by Kieślowski over the failure of any good times turning up in the aftermath of cold war), and a lack of any uniform color scheme if you except the drabness. And yes, it strikes me then, except Vidal, everything in the film is so very drab. The village, the hairdresser pal who takes Karol in, the enigmatic friend Mikolaj who wanted to kill himself (is he a toned-down version of the Judge of Rouge?), the railway station where Karol begs or the railway station where Karol meets by appointment to take the life of Mikolaj, the prison to which Karol slips in at the end - yes, the whiteness is in the drabness, the single-minded intents of all the characters. Karol is after revenge, Vidal after easy money and easy men, Mikolaj after forgetfulness that never comes, and the hairdresser pal after customers. White of purpose!

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