BFI Classics: Three Colours Trilogy

Geoff Andrew is a name that means something to me given the amazing reviews he once wrote for the Time-Out film guide. His ability to analyze a film is around 100 words was at times astounding, if you have a moment just read his review for either The Stud or Perfect for prime examples. To see his name on this book raised my hops to epic levels that this would be something special indeed.

Having just finished the book there is one thing I have no doubt at all about; Geoff Andrew clearly loves the work of Kieslowski and admires him greatly as a human being. The book is essentially a love letter to a creative figure that has clearly left a huge mark on the author’s professional and possibly personal life.

The book itself is cut into three sections that consist of an introduction to the Three Colors Trilogy and the director himself. The second section deals individually with each of the three films. Finally Andrews wraps up the book with an impassioned explanation of why he loves the films and the work of Krzysztof Kieslowski, before we get a short interview between the two done just after Kieslowski announced his retirement.

The book is a total joy to read never straying into the realm of academic nonsense that usually makes books unbearable. Andrew writes from the heart and basically wants people to take a moment to stop and take up the challenge of finding the works of Kieslowski. The opening section deals with his early career and his ground breaking work on the Decalogue series of films.

His analysis of the trilogy is well organized and concise and thankfully is never weighed down with impenetrable nonsense. The essence of what the author is getting at is Kieslowski’s obsession with the individual and that person functions within society. He never had any interest in the whole only the singular. As in the Decalogue films he then draws the lives together over the three films. The decision to end with the boat crash was something Kieslowski had no doubts about. His reasoning is simple in that had he opened with this sequence then the audience would have sat through all three films trying to tie it all together themselves. This would have actually distracted from the emotional experience he was trying to achieve with each individual film.

Another fascinating aspect of the project revealed in the book is the speed at which Kieslowski works in general. This allowed for the films to be released in very quickly as he edited one film and directed the next simultaneously. His speed is oddly reminiscent of Clint Eastwood who never allows productions to run for longer than a set period. The book seems to suggest that Kieslowski was a man possessed during the making of this project, possibly suggesting that it was his ultimate goal.

Not surprisingly Andrew’s book is an emotional journey in itself as he clearly loves the work of Kieslowski. As one of the UK’s most famous critics you expect the writing to be superb and naturally it is. The book has a fan feel rather than academic as Andrew gives an impassioned essay on his admiration for the Polish legend. Anyone who new Andrew’s previous work for Tim-Out will not be surprised by the quality of this book and those previously unaware of him are in for a wonderful surprise.

Aled Jones

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