Krzysztof Kieslowski

Irene Jacob in Red (1994), the final of Kieslowski's Three Colors Trilogy

Irene Jacob in Red (1994), the final of Kieslowski's Three Colors Trilogy

  • Born:  1941
  • Died:  1996
  • Rank:  85
  • Score:  514.75
  • Awards:  LAFC / NBR (both for Foreign Film)
  • Nominations:  Oscar / BAFTA
  • Feature Films:  8
  • Best:  Red
  • Worst:  Blind Chance

Top 5 Films:

  1. Red – 1994
  2. Blue – 1993
  3. White – 1994
  4. The Double Life of Veronique – 1991
  5. Camera Buff – 1979

Top 10 Director Finishes (Nighthawk Awards):

  • 1993 – 6th – Blue
  • 1994 – 5th – Red
  • 1994 – 9th – White

Kieslowski died suddenly in 1996, but he had already announced his retirement from directing after Red.  It’s possible he might have come back, especially to direct his script for Heaven (later directed by Tom Tykwer, who will be on the list in a couple of weeks), but at least he had finished his Three Colors Trilogy.

I had never heard of him before the trilogy, in spite of his documentary film Dekalog, which received numerous accolades and his very good film The Double Life of Veronique, which I saw after I had seen Three Colors.  Kieslowski had made four earlier films (The Scar, Camera Buff, No End and Blind Chance), all of them good, but none of them great.  Then Veronique marked him as a major talent and he capped it off with the trilogy, earning his place in film history.

Red – #8 film of 1994

Aside from the quality of the Three Colors Trilogy (they are all great films and there are endless debates about which one is the best), Red was the one that garnered the most notice, for two reasons.  One, it was the most successful in the United States and ended up being nominated for Best Director and best Original Screenplay at the Oscars.  But that pales to the fact that it most likely got additional support for those nominations when it got caught up in the technical details of what films qualify for the Foreign Film Oscar.

The Academy has long ingrained rules about what films can be nominated and because Red was a co-production of Polish and French filmmakers with French stars and French actors, the Academy refused to recognize it as a film from Poland.  Yet again they showed that their rules were more important than actually honoring the best films of the year (it was a particularly bad year for that as Hoop Dreams was passed up for Best Documentary that same year).

But Red is a great film, was definitely the best foreign film of that year and offers us a great story of an older male retired judge and a younger female model and the relationship that arises between them.  It also, at the end, gives a fitting closing to the entire trilogy, which had only been casually linked before in small scenes, but finally drawn together.  It seemed fitting to be the final scene of the final Kieslowski film.

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