The Double Life of Veronique :: The Art of Visual Poetry | REVIEW


Welcome to the show. My name is Charles Kincaid, and we’re glad to have you. Before we begin we caution our viewers that we will be seeing doubles today, your eyes I’m not failing you. Unless your seeing four. I’m seeing double here for I’m seeing double here. Four Krustys! The Palme D’or goes to… Pulp Fiction In 1994 Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction Took the Palme D’or The top prize at cannes film festival over Red the last film by Krzysztof Kieslowsi Superficially Pulp Fiction even resembled Red and the other two films in Kieslowski’s Three Colors trilogy but ultimately despite their similarities with regard to interconnected narratives pulp fiction was unconcerned with anything metaphysical never vearing far from a kind of naturalism the idea that only that that can be verified empirically exists. Now that’s a little different from realism which was a tenant of many of the Hollywood New Wave films that Tarantino loved. And you can see the distinction in ever greater numbers every passing year and things like fantasy films and superhero movies where now even the supernatural must be accounted for. Tell me. Do you bleed? That brings me back to Kieslowski. This is a picture called the Double Life of Veronique. Maybe the finest example of Kieslowski as the director most apt to unravel the threads that compose and order the world. A director not satisfied only showing us what, but inviting us to question why. Double Life is a film about two women, both played by Irene Jacob, that have never met but a drawn inexplicably to one another. Each are introduced via flashbacks in the opening scene. So from the onset, as Christopher J Knight wrote, the film’s very first images recall to us the thought of both birth and rebirth of Christmas and Easter Weronika and Veronique are, vis-a-vis, one another, emblematic of birth and rebirth punctuated by death. Kieslowski, though himself not religiously affiliated, borrows these Christian doctrines not just to associate these two girls but to illuminate the workings of some higher cause. And as the film continues that idea is explored more in the film’s narrative style which is broken into two sections, the first exploring the Polish Weronika, and the second exploring the French Veronique. Kieslowski said the Polish part of the film was narrated synthetically, focusing on only the short episodes that build her ultimate death. These events layout the important groundwork for the Veronique in the French portion, which, on the other hand was narrated analytically, with long scenes meant to analyze her state of mind. This isn’t a film dedicated to events subservient to plot. Which isn’t to say it’s events are not saturated with purpose, but much is in life there is no sense of movement toward a goal. It’s only later that the moment seemed to fit if they do it all. So few of the actions taken at any given moment seem important but they build exponentially as it with perfect orchestration to reveal hidden realities. Visually this is accomplished with the film’s most obvious trait, the golden green filter that saturates every frame; an effect that artificially beautifies the settings of Krakow and Paris, and like black-and-white favors abstraction, giving power to the otherworldly greens and cautionary yellows. From there Kieslowski weaves together a multitude of visual and internal rhymes Again, it’s like poetry… connecting moments, scenes characters and ideas. In doing so he reflects on reality, linking nature with its double. Beyond that there’s Preisner’s music the spirit of the picture. Kieslowski and Preisner worked closely together to make music that along with the images created something that wasn’t there before. Unlike music in American movies which tend to heightened emotion the music in “Double Life” acts as another character, interacting and influencing the other characters. Music by nature is abstract and lends itself to portraying shades of divinity. In the Screwtape Letters by CS Lewis, for example, the demon Screwtape writes to his nephew that heaven is the region where there is only life and therefore all that is not music is silence. The opposite of this he argued is noise which is the power of Hell. Double Life has no time for noise, its only concerned with silence and music. While Kieslowski was editing Double Life he had in his mind the question what makes the film a film? He said why can’t we say the film is handmade and every version is going to be different? There was a plan to make as many cuts of the picture as they were theaters in Paris but due to time restrictions there are only two versions the main version and an American version with an alternate ending. Nevertheless what Kieslowski had in mind almost recalls the great oral tradition of antiquity the same tradition that produced the for Biblical Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John a process that could alter structure provide new episodes create new emphasis, but remain the same story. As it is remnants of other sides of Double Life find their way into the final film, like here for instance when Veronique agrees to aid her friend during her divorce trial. It’s played as an aside in the film and a peculiar too, but it’s the presence of those abandoned subplots and disconnected vignettes that provide more emotional complexity more connection to its heroine then it possibly could otherwise in a story like this. Kieslowski’s work was motivated to try to understand and see why things are the way they are because. But Kieslowski doesn’t know he’s only searching. The last concern the film has is building exposition and unloading superfluous information. Kieslowski doesn’t care about that and audiences don’t really either. Instead he leaves room for contemplation and for mystery. The mystery of the soul the mystery of God. For a film like this about emotions hard to explain, it has to be. To simplify and tell what it’s about is to lose its power, because human experience can’t be explained by details or biology. And Kieslowski senses this when he said to name them would make them seem trivial and stupid. He senses supervision in a physical world seeing and wondering about the connections and invisible threads that order the world and sensing something greater given the statistical improbability that anything happens at all. To do this in a film, as Kubrick said of Kieslowski’s work he doesn’t just talk about his ideas, he dramatizes them. Maybe he never answers his own questions, but he does the next best thing he posits them. Thank you all very much for watching. The Double Life of Veronique is one of my favorite movies, and Kieslowski might be my favorite director. He’s certainly right up there at the top. Anyway, I had a blast making this video and I look forward to making more. And hey you enjoyed it too, remember to like it, subscribe to the channel, and even share it. It would all be very much appreciated. My name is Charles Kincaid, thank you very much for watching.

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