Trois Couleurs: Blanc | Three Colors: White (Polish: Trzy kolory. Biały) is a 1994 Polish-film co-written, produced, and directed by Krzysztof Kieślowski.
White is the second in The Three Colors Trilogy, themed on the French Revolutionary ideals, following Blue and preceding Red.
This film illustrates the second theme of the Three Colors trilogy, equality, through the two desires of the protagonist Karol Karol: improving his station in life, and revenge.
In contrast to the introspective, melancholy, and eventually hopeful stories of Blue and Red, White is a black comedy.
The story begins in a Paris divorce court where Karol Karol (Zbigniew Zamachowski), a Polish immigrant, is pleading with the judge to save his marriage. (Side note: this is the same legal proceedings that Juliette Binoche’s character briefly stumbled upon in the film Blue.)
The grounds for divorce are humiliating: Karol was unable to consummate the marriage. Along with his wife, he loses his means of support (a beauty salon they jointly owned), his legal residency in France, and the rest of his cash in a series of sad mishaps. Soon he tries performing songs in the Paris Metro station to earn spare change. It is here where Karol meets and is befriended by another Pole, Mikołaj (Janusz Gajos). While Karol has lost his wife and his property, Mikołaj is married and successful.
Mikołaj helps Karol return to Poland and he goes back to working as a hairdresser with his brother. Eventually, Karol takes a job as a bodyguard in a seemingly innocent cash exchange office, and using his position as a deceptively foolish bodyguard, Karol spies on his bosses and discovers their scheme to purchase different pieces of land that they knew were going to be targeted by big companies for development and resell for large profits.
Karol beats them to it, and with the money he gained from this scheme and with money from Mikołaj, the two go into business together. Karol becomes ruthlessly ambitious, focusing his energies on money-making schemes while learning French and brooding over his wife’s abandonment.
He uses his new financial influence in a world where, as several characters observe, “you can buy anything” to execute a complex scheme to first win back Dominique, and then destroy her life by faking his own death after which she is imprisoned for his ‘murder’.
Like Blue, the film’s cinematography makes heavy use of the title colour: the sky is almost always white, and a scene in Poland is filmed in a white snowscape. An explosion of white is also the colour of the long-awaited orgasm.
White has been interpreted as an anti-comedy, in parallel with Blue being an anti-tragedy, and Red being an anti-romance.
Co-written, produced, and directed by Krzysztof Kieślowski