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photography and film – facts, ideas, values

Concentrating on Kieslowski: Camera Buff (Amator)



Film info from Kino on Video

Wiki: Camera Buff

Dan Schneider on Camera Buff

James Berardinelli reviews Camera Buff

Barbara Bernstein reviews Camera Buff

Camera Buff by Rahul Hamid in Senses of Cinema

Camera Buff NYT Movies  (may need to register)

Camera Buff (Krzysztof Kieslowski, 1979) blog post  Film at 11

Camera Buff Review from Not Coming to a Theatre Near You (This link is to the reviews of Three Colours)

November 18, 2008 Posted by | film [its techniques], Kieslowski, Krzysztof Kieślowski | | Leave a comment

Concentrating on Kieslowski: man and work


GoogleBook facsimile.  Substantial part of text.

* Discusses of the Cinema of Moral Concern/Cinema of Moral Anxiety/Cinema of Distrust.

Corin Depper in Scope, reviews Kikasola book and explains Kickasola’s use of the notion of liminality in his analysis of Kieslowski’s films.

GoogleBook facsimile. Substantial part of text.

Review of book by Annette Insdorf

2-page review of Three Colours by Brain Udoff

Wim Wenders, Agnieszka Holland, Andres Veiel

by Dave Hall

Before Dekalog, Kieslowski had been first a documentary maker, then a politically-minded feature director in his native Poland: he was also an admirer of both Ken Loach and Ingmar Bergman, which helps point you in the direction of his sensibilities.

By Harvey Weinstein

Short quote

by Tadeusz Miczka
Translated by Andrzej Cimala

From filmreference.com :

When he died in 1996, the Polish auteur left a screenplay. Can Tom Tykwer – young German director of Run Lola Run – do it justice?

  • Richard Williams, in a 2006 Guardian article at the time of a Krzysztof Kieslowski Revisited season at the National Film Theatre, on the 10th. anniversary of Kieslowski’s death, gives many of the answers from Kieslowski himself:

“In the 1960s, 1970s and early 1980s, movies counted. Because everyone was against the communist system, it was easy for us to tell stories the public understood, even during censorship. Now, the audience doesn’t know what it wants to see, and we don’t know what we want to say.”

He decided to walk away to spend his time more constructively, messing about with his collection of power tools. Less than two years after his announcement, he died in a Warsaw hospital during heart surgery.

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By 1984, when he made No End, Kieslowski was already winning prizes on the international festival circuit. This, however, was the first fruit of his collaboration with Krzysztof Piesiewicz, a trial lawyer who, that same year, would successfully prosecute the four state security men accused of murdering Father Jerzy Popieluszko, a young Warsaw priest who had spoken out in favour of Solidarity. Kieslowski and Piesiewicz met in court, while the director was attempting to film cases being tried under martial law; they would go on to create the screenplays for all Kieslowski’s remaining films.

Very helpful essay:

Blue” is a film of an intense subjectivity, where the camera sometimes occupies the body of the actor

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Cinematographer Slawomir ldziak, whom Kieslowski calls upon for his most expressionistic work (A Short Film About Killing, The Double Life of Veronique), shoots with a depth of field so shallow, a focus so precise, that his lens can barely hold a single, small object in clear view.

::

In discussing “The Double Life of Veronique,” Kieslowski makes a distinction between the “synthetic” narrative style of the first, Polish half of the film by which he means a narrative that goes from episode to episode, covering a year or so of the heroine’s life in half an hour of screen time-and the “analytic” style of the French part, which focuses on Veronique’s state of mind as reflected in the nonnarrative elements of the mise-en-scene: camera placement, color, and so on.

The same distinction applies to the French and Polish components of “Three Colors”: Julie lives in a subjective, inwardly focused, visually oriented environment, Karol in an objective, aggressive, action- oriented world.

Website has brief synopses and filmographies of each of Dekalogs

Chris Pizzello reviews Three Colours in American Cinematography :

Kieslowski elaborates on his cinematic theory of “retroactive reasoning,” in which images that seem ambiguous upon first viewing accrue greater depth when revisited later on. In doing this, the director coaxes the viewer’s subconscious into making the connection between the images. A perfect example of this theory is the stunning final shot of Red, in which a seemingly banal image suddenly takes on profound meaning.

YouTube : The Cinema lesson 3/3

Krzysztof Kieślowski analyses scenes from Three Colours, including example of retroactive reasoning.

See also 1/3, 2/3.


* Compares Red cinematography of late Piotr Sobocinski to that of Vittorio Storaro in Bertolucci’s  The Conformist.


The Double Life of Veronique: Kieslowski and Pure Emotion Kevin Pearson

Blog, Mystery man on Film, post: Visual Storytelling – Kieslowski’s “Blue”

YouTube insert with search box.

Kieslowski’s Many Colours

Patrick Abrahamson: Oxford University Student newspaper, June 2, 1995

Interviewed Kieslowski

photography

Alex Waterhouse-Hayward’s blog: October 7, 1994 photo of Kieslowski. Text:

Polish director Krzysztof Kieslowski is best known for his Three Colour Trilogy (Blue-White-Red). My impression of him is based on another colour. To be precise, a deep green. I photographed him for the Globe & Mail on October 7, 1994. I watched gentle Christopher Dafoe (check blog for Saturday, May 27) interview him in the legendary (for me since I have photographed so many people there) Sun Room of the Hotel Vancouver. Kieslowski did not look well and he was chain smoking. I go this impression that he was not going to be around for long. A year later he had a heart attack and barely recovered. He died March 13, 1996. When I pulled out my deep green filter he looked at me and smiled. “I am a photographer, too,” he said to me. “I know what a green filter does, exactly.” And he posed for me and winked. As he looked straight into my camera I saw a man who was preparing to die. And I also knew, he knew, exactly, what the photograph was going to look like.




November 17, 2008 Posted by | film [its techniques], Kieslowski, Krzysztof Kieślowski | | Leave a comment

Concentrating on Kieslowski: Three Colours White



three-colours-white-court-house


I’m not the only one to find White, as part II of the trilogy, a slight disappointment, signified by not being able to watch it again till later. I couldn’t wait for a repeat viewing of the other two.

The connections are there. The old lady is still hunched, and still struggling to put her bottle into the bottle back as in Blue and Red:  Julie in Blue does not see the old lady because she is in a momentary reverie as she catches a patch of sunlight on her face, and Valentine in Red, helps her put the bottle into the container. In White,  Karol Karol just smiles. From what I have read since, the smile has been interpreted as schadenfreude. To me, it seemed to amount to “He’s down, she’s down, and he recognises it”. He’s had quite few mishaps recently. Doing nothing to respond to the old lady hints at the character that will emerge, or be exposed, by his experience of free-wheeling capitalism back in Poland.

Whereas as Karol becomes a wealthy businessman on his return to post-communist Poland, and is seen a tougher character, in Paris he seems vulnerable, the victim of events.  It doesn’t seem possible that the one should change into the other. Maybe that is part of the anti-capitalist message! Although the theme is equality, Kieslowski treated it as unequality and somewhere has said so.

There is a suggestion by some clever clogs that White takes place after the ferry disaster at the end of  Red, presumably on the basis that in Red both Karol and his ex-wife survive the ferry sinking. In Blue Julie looks into a court room through a round window in the door to look at her husband’s mistress, Sandrine, witnessing the divorce scene in White.  A voice speaking in rapidly in French – presumably the translator – asks “What about equality? Is it because I can’t speak French that court won’t hear my case?”

In the Strictly Film School summary of White, there is mention of the achronology.

Maybe more later. White is not a priority in my film viewing/study.



November 17, 2008 Posted by | film [its techniques], Kieslowski, Krzysztof Kieślowski | | Leave a comment

Concentrating on Kieslowski: second viewing of Three Colours Red



This post is not really for someone who hasn’t seen the film.




Kieslowski has failed in his film to show me his object! Even after a second viewing, a week after the first, I can’t honestly say I grasped the full meaning of the story. I’ve had to rely on the extras on disk 4 plus a range of reviews and comments such as these below:

Three Colors Red by Krzysztof Kieslowski

A complex, comprehensive review by Dan Schreider – he covers every angle – weaving in references to other director’s work. He says after summarising the plot: ” Throughout the film there is the sense that Kern is more than mortal.” I didn’t see that at all until the end of the second viewing.  It is not difficult to see, a certain way through the film, that the the young judge might be in some way connected to the past of retired judge Joseph Kerns, but not immediately. This is because the information contained in the conversations that model/student, Valentine, has with Kern are needed to come to this surmise. Part of the films technique is to propel the story of Augustine the newly appointed judge in the present of Valentine, rather than doing it in a past: Auguste drives a modern 4 x 4  and is living in the same street as Valentine. This suggests something akin to what happens in The Double Life of Veronique, where each Veronique/Weronik is aware of the other at a distance. My impression on first watching Veronique was that Kieslowski was trying to use quantum imagery: particles can connect with each other at great distances, which is highly counter-intuitive.

In Red a new life is acting out in every detail what has happened for another person. Kern talks with Valentine about his life near the end of the film. There is no sense in which he is remembering the past based on earlier cues in the film. It is established that they are both judges early on, which allows the guess that Auguste is Joseph Kern. It is finally confirmed in the late scene when Kern explains – and the camera swoops down to illustrate – he too dropped his law book. But even then, knowing The Double Life of Veronique, I was left wondering if this was akin to his notion that music is convergent: that is possible two people could compose exactly the same piece of music in different places or times because as Kieslowki has said, “…the notes are out there.” In Blue, this is toyed with over the tune the street musician is playing being like the concerto. (Though at one point sheet music for the unfinished music is thrown away….)

Kieslowski has said all his films are the same film. This is certainly true of Three Colours and Veronique, where such things as the fictional composer Von Budenmayer in Veronique appearing in Red, which is all explained well by Schreider.

Demystifying Three Colors: Red by Anthony Leong

While Auguste is crossing the street one night, the elastic holding his books together snaps, and the books fall onto the street. One book falls open on a certain page, which he reads, and his subsequent exam asks a question relevant to that material. The same thing happened to the older judge, only thirty-five years earlier and in an auditorium.

Yes, but in the film chronology this is only explained for Judge Kern right at the end of the movie. Until that point the two events have not been conjoined. Not pointing this out does not help in demystifying the film!

Schreider suggests something which helps tie in Blue, White and Red.  We learn from the extras on disc 4 that all three films were made at the same time (though not exactly how and how and when they were edited):

…given the time frames of the three films, the ending of Red could have happened before the ending of White, since that film takes place over the longest span of time — almost two years.

How many people might have seen, after watching all three in the correct order, that our hero went on to divorce his wife in the Paris courts, survive the ferry disaster and go on to success in post-communist Poland.

An Artistic Consideration: Kieslowski’s Judgement in Red

Red is very complex in its construction. I don’t know whether we’ll manage to get my idea across on the screen. [. . .] I’ve got everything I need to put across what I want to say, which is really quite complicated. Therefore, if the idea I’ve got in mind doesn’t come across, it meant that either film is too primitive a medium to support such a construction or that all of us put together haven’t got enough talent for it.
– Krzysztof Kieslowski, June 1993

So that is not too much a love-fest: from a review by Bryant Frazer:

Kieslowski’s harshest critics maintain that the films sap the sympathies of an irredeemably gullible audience. They accuse him of arranging for fashionable Frenchwomen to traipse through his very European landscapes, murmuring New Age platitudes, sleeping with sensitive New Age guys, and pouting for the camera. The director’s newest film, Red, the culmination of his Three Colors trilogy which also includes Blue and White, they insist, is overblown claptrap, substituting notions of Fate and Destiny for credible film-making. The new issue of Film Comment (November-December 1994) juxtaposes a rich essay on the trilogy by New York Daily News critic Dave Kehr with a tirade against it (by Phillip Lopate) which insists that the film’s supporters have been aesthetically “bamboozled.”

Critics have complained that Kieslowski’s films are reliant on coincidence and overblown ideas about Destiny, but it’s a moot complaint when the director is so honest about his role as grand manipulator of his own world, weaving his presence thematically into the work. The culmination of his masterful Three Colors trilogy suggests there is Something Larger than Kieslowski’s characters. Whether that is the Deity or simply the Director is left for us to decide.

There is also, Kieslowsi’s “Three Colors”, by Jonathan Kiefer, which is a detailed commentary/essay on the whole and the parts of Three Colours. Although bits of ideas are to gleaned from many on-line sources, if I had to chose one alone this would be it up to now. His take is both in terms of story, in particular how these three stories integrate, and cinematography. For example, he observes of Blue:

Cinematographer Slawomir ldziak, whom Kieslowski calls upon for his most expressionistic work (A Short Film About Killing, The Double Life of Veronique), shoots with a depth of field so shallow, a focus so precise, that his lens can barely hold a single, small object in clear view. The cut glass hanging that Julie takes from her husband’s studio, or the metallic candy wrapper that her daughter held in the wind just before the accident-these and other emotionally charged objects are allowed to dissolve into shapeless impressions and free-floating clouds of color (blue, of course), hanging over Julie’s world like strange spiritual effusions.

There are more systematic considerations, which anyone wanting to study Kieslowski can benefit from:

In discussing “The Double Life of Veronique,” Kieslowski makes a distinction between the “synthetic” narrative style of the first, Polish half of the film by which he means a narrative that goes from episode to episode, covering a year or so of the heroine’s life in half an hour of screen time-and the “analytic” style of the French part, which focuses on Veronique’s state of mind as reflected in the non-narrative elements of the mise-en-scene: camera placement, color, and so on.

The same distinction applies to the French and Polish components of “Three Colors”: Julie lives in a subjective, inwardly focused, visually oriented environment, Karol in an objective, aggressive, action-oriented world.




November 17, 2008 Posted by | film [its techniques], Kieslowski, Krzysztof Kieślowski | , , | 2 Comments

FILM A first viewing of Krzysztof Kieślowski’s Three Colours Trilogy





fo_bednarski_nagrobek_kieslowskiego_1997__h170

These remarks and those in Kieslowski posts to come are best addressed to someone who has already seen the films. If you haven’t, it might be better to do so before having your viewing experience ruined by these ruminations, which let slip here and there details you might prefer to watch first.

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The package came in the last post before the weekend: accidental, fortuitous, perfect timing.  When the cellophane sleeve came off and the four disks* were laid bare, it was obvious – knowing something about Three Colours – there might be a delicious prevarication (a) over whether to watch them in the order most people do and (b) one after another in quick succession or with sufficient gaps – days even – to let each one soak in.

* Number four in this Artificial Eye set includes a 1994 Documentary, I’m So-So, by Krzysztof Wierzbicki {1} {2} , in which you see Kieslowski smile. I have wanted to know if he always kept a straight face since watching the interview he gave which came with the Artificial Eye two disk set of The Double Life of Veronique: the film that was my introduction to Kieslowski. A few commenters have suggested I’m So-So doesn’t tell you much, but I think it does. If you think you might be into Kieslowski, don’t skip it.   I won’t give away what the title is about, except to say my version is “As well as can be expected under the circumstances.”

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Some might chose Decalogue first, but I felt, on balance, watching the ex-Poland films first, then some of the earlier Polish stuff, might be more instructive. Maybe it doesn’t matter either way. Decalogue was, if my memory serves me well, shown on British TV some years ago, and I think I saw one or two, which I found a bit heavy going, despite Decalogue being generally considered his masterpiece. In any case,  watching Kieslowski as a film student might ( Amator next….), whether I enjoy his films is irrelevant.  And of course, it can be a pleasure to watch a film without the subject matter being pleasurable. I want to know how he made them, why he made them, what it took to do it, and why he is considered a master.

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After watching Blue,  I felt it such an impressive film it would be a kind of sacrilege to watch one of the others until the buzz wore off.   In any case, thinking and reading about Blue afterwards took so much time, it was the next day before White.  Having watched White, it seemed a good idea to have kept it separate from Blue by a day. After White, which did not hold me as much as Blue,  I did not feel the same inclination to wait for Red, watching it the same evening. After Red,  I wished I had left it to another day! (For the re-match, it seems as if it might be Blue followed by Red and then White.

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There are many reviews and essays on Three Colours. This by Paul Newall is good, as is Reading Three Colours:Blue by Richard Rushton in Senses of Cinema. There is long academic paper by Tammy Clewell, The Shades of Modern Mourning in Three Colours Trilogy, which is not my favourite type of reading, but there are snippets here and there on various themes within mourning, which can be useful.

Wiki:Krzysztof Kieślowski gives the background.

kieslowski-tombstone

Sculptor: Krzysztof Bednarski

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The web is full of Kieslowski, so not too many links here, for those who might be coming to him, or like me, part of the way in. later, I might add a few more if I find any particularly good ones.

Senses of Cinema: Krzysztof Kieslowski by Doug Cummings

Culture.pl has a long profile on Kieslowski, with an annotated filmography

An interview with Kieslowski which covers Three Colours. It is not clear who the interviewer is or whether this is a transcript from a filmed interview.

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After some posts on watching Three Colours a second time there will one or more on Amator, or in its English rendering, Camera Buff.  There will be a good set of links to Amator because this is a film not much watched and which few would probably chose to buy if they were collection Kieslowski: it’s considered to be a weaker specimen of the species.  I haven’t watched Amator – on its way – but in debates with others about the nature of film and in particular the ins and outs of videoing someone you know in detail, it has come up as a way of helping to examine questions such as whether making a documentary of someone is by its nature exploitative and /or manipulative. I have already posted on Operation Filmmaker, a film by Nina Davenport, but have not really exhausted my thoughts on what that film might tells us about documentary: might bring some of it into the Amator post.

November 15, 2008 Posted by | film [its techniques], Krzysztof Kieślowski | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment