Three Colors: Blue | Trois Couleurs: Bleu is a 1993 French film written, produced, and directed by the acclaimed Polish director Krzysztof Kieślowski. Blue is the first in The Three Colors Trilogy, themed on the French Revolutionary ideals; it is followed by White and Red.
According to Kieślowski (in the films Bonus Features: Commentary by Anne Insdorf, A Look at “Blue”) the subject of the film is liberty, specifically emotional liberty, rather than its social or political meaning.
Set in Paris, it depicts Julie, played by Academy Award winner Juliette Binoche (“The English Patient,” Best Supporting Actress, 1996) a young woman left devastated by the unexpected death of her husband and child. Julie attempts to cut herself off from everything and live in isolation from her former ties, but finds that she cannot free herself from human connections.
She sell all of her possessions and moves out of her large country home and retreats into an apartment in Paris where she attempts to disappear into the world around her. The only thing she keeps is her daughter’s blue bead lamp, a colorful focal point in her drab, spartan quarters, and the only reminder of her lost life. At one point in the film she tells her mother: “I don’t want any belongings, any memories. No friends, no love. Those are all traps.”
The film has wonderful cinematography and makes frequent visual allusions to its title: numerous scenes are shot with blue filters or blue lighting, and many objects are blue. When Julie thinks about the musical score that she has tried to destroy, blue light overwhelms the screen. The film also includes several references to the colors of the tricolor that inspired Kieślowski’s trilogy: several scenes are dominated by red light, and in one scene, children dressed in white bathing suits with red floaters jump into the blue swimming pool. Another scene features a link with the next film in the trilogy: Julie is seen accidentally entering a courtroom where Karol, the Polish main character of White, is being divorced by Dominique, his estranged French wife.
Blue won multiple awards:
Venice Film Festival, 1993: Best Film, Best Actress: Juliette Binoche, Best Cinematography: Sławomir Idziak
César Award, 1993: Best Actress: Juliette Binoche, Best Sound, Best Film Editing
Goya Awards (Spain’s Academy Awards): Best European Film
Juliette Binoche as Julie de Courcy (née Vignon)
Benoît Régent as Olivier Benôit
Charlotte Very as Lucille
Emmanuelle Riva as Madame Vignon, Julie’s mother
Florence Pernel as Sandrine
Guillaume De Tonquédec as Serge