In 1994, auteur director Krzyszstof Kieslowski completed his final film Red, the last entry in a trilogy of films based on the colors and values of the French flag: Blue for liberty, White for equality, and Red for fraternity. In Red, Kieslowski attempts to show us fraternity in all its variations: the relationships we share with friends and family members, the undiscovered bonds between ourselves and others, and even connections that don’t yet exist, but might be fated to occur.
Red is set in the city of Geneva, in Switzerland: cosmopolitan, charming, old-world, eerily austere. On a drizzly night, a fashion model, Valentine Dusseau, is commuting home from a runway show. Tired and lonely, her boyfriend off somewhere in Poland for unknown reasons, her eyes not on the road, she hits a dog. This unfortunate run-in leads to the central fraternal pairing in the film: when Valentine returns the dog to her owner, she meets her foil, a bitter old Prospero, the retired judge Joseph Kern, who spies on his neighbors with high-tech radio equipment.
As Valentine and the judge are drawn together, we meet some of the people he spies on. One of them, a young man named Auguste Bruner, appears as a metaphysical shadow of the aged judge. Auguste too is studying to become a judge, and bears more than a passing resemblance to Joseph. In another parallel, Auguste is also betrayed by his girlfriend, just as Joseph had been forty years prior. Most importantly, Auguste is Valentine’s neighbor. Somehow, strangely, they’ve never met, but we sense it is only a matter of time before they do. Like so many other things in Red, their meeting is left to fate. There is something portentous in the air–the characters sense it, catch a whiff, and aren’t quite able to describe what is going on, or what is drawing them together.
After completing Red, and vowing that it would be his last film, fate stepped in and disallowed Kiewslowski from changing his mind. He passed away in 1996 from complications following a sudden heart attack. It was a swift and cutting blow for all who had seen his films. Kieslowski’s death deprived the film world of one of its most insightful observers of the complexity of persons, and the bonds between them.
Kieslowski’s Red, White and Blue, live on the main floor of the library, address PN1997 .T669 2001 DVD.