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Krzysztof Kieślowski: Three Colours, 54 Moments, A Thousand Times Goodbye

Early in Three Colours: Red, as he prepares to take his dog for a walk, behind Auguste the picture on the wall shows a dancer. An exact pose we see Valentine’s upper torso perform just scenes later. One of the more subtle cues to their paths crossing.

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Directly below Valentine’s apartment you may or may not notice the name Joseph on the cafe, the same name as the retired judge fate would soon have her meet. In White, Karol arrives at his brothers place, also called Karol – but that is their surname. Yep, Karol Karol.

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The beautiful Valentine, as enticingly portrayed by Irène Jacob, shows a rare moment of pride and joy in her work as a model. Seconds before being asked to look sad for the photograph now synonymous with the movie.

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Valentine refreshes with a huge amount of water, then turns to someone off shot and wishes them “bonne journée” before leaving. A spontaneous, unscripted moment that Kieślowski left in the final cut. Of course he did, it fits perfectly with Valentine’s endearing nature.

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A blink and you’ll miss it chance to see various Valentine poses, before she selects the illustrious photo. The visual presentation of choice.

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Outside of the Judge’s house, Valentine has a should I stay or should I go moment. She eventually enters the house, choosing in some way her short-term fate.

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As the spying and prying becomes all too intriguing and involving, Valentine succumbs to her own personal urges and the Judge’s reasoning. This shot shows them on the same team, his brief glance at her when she approaches is priceless.

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Perhaps a little too much for Valentine, having crossed something of an ethical line and broken down part of her emotional wall, she weeps privately in her car as she drives home. A beautifully real moment.

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At a red light, Auguste is faced with the huge banner of Valentine’s face from the earlier shoot. The ill-fated neighbors still have not actually met, but he clearly is somewhat enraptured by what he sees.

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The Judge has to replace a table lamp bulb with one from the main light. Obviously far too bright for Valentine’s eyes, until he returns the lamp shade, but the impact of the shot is illuminating both literally and aesthetically.

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As Valentine and the Judge share a semi-celebratory drink, unifying them, a rock comes crashing through the window. Another broken window, this time suggesting heavily that someone is onto his intrusive hobbies.

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Going to extreme, but necessary, lengths to see with his own eyes that his girlfriend is sleeping with another man, Auguste climbs the window ledge and gradually peers in to see what he was hoping not to.

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At the film’s climactic fashion show, there’s a beautiful moment as Valentine peers around the curtain as a child perhaps would to see if their parents have shown up for their play.

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Physically and work-wise, this could well be Valentine’s glory moment, adrift from the usual, timid persona, she is literally center stage amidst the applause and flash photography. This scene was used for Piotr Sobocinski’s Best Cinematography nomination clip.

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To her pleasant surprise, Valentine sees that the Judge has attended the show after all, making one of his rare ventures out into the real world. Her infectious influence is thicker than his skin.

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As the judge and Valentine part, she places her hand on the glass over his at the other side in the car he is about to leave in. A completely appropriate and mutual respect.

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Showing up, and struggling, in the first two Three Colors movie, Blue and White, the hunched over old lady finally gets some assistance from the good-hearted Valentine. While Julie and Karol were distracted, perhaps Valentine represents a kind of closure and awareness of what’s around them.

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At the film’s final hurdle, a remarkable sequence has us meet some familiar faces as survivors of a ferry accident. First, with the blue sky behind her, we see Julie, and Olivier, (from Blue) being escorted from the scene.

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Next making it safely to land is Dominique, as well as Karol (from White), once again incredibly pitched against a partial background of white.

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And finally, as we and the Judge anxiously watch on, Auguste and Valentine are also safe. And for the first time they have actually, finally met. The image, too, as the frame freezes, with the red in the background, is an astute but direct reference to the now classic photo of Valentine.

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Knowing Valentine is safe, and likely finding it hard to have warmed so much to her, the Judge looks through the broken window (why fix it, indeed?). The wry smile on his face is truly a poignant and fitting close to a wonderful movie. As they run down the Judge’s face, that makes it three-for-three as each film in the trilogy closes with tears.

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< < < < < THREE COLOURS: BLUE

< < < < < THREE COLOURS: WHITE

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