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The Roles and Representations of Women in Trois Couleurs

A feminist analysis of Krzysztof Kieslowski’s films can reveal that despite his appreciation of women’s creativity, beauty and complexity (as each one of his heroine are well rounded characters), the Three Colors trilogy retell and enforce the existing order of patriarchy. In each one of these films a woman challenges patriarchy as she chooses to live without a man (in Blue), engage in unauthorized sexual activity (White) or just live far away from the man in her life (Red), but each one of these films concludes with the heroine surrendering her power to men or being forcibly surrender by it.

Each of the three films begins with a challenge to masculinity or patriarchy: in Blue this challenge comes from the fact Julie, who lost her husband, refuse to tie herself to another man, in White the challenge is of Dominique, who humiliates, abuse and chase her husband out of France, and in Red it is the mere fact Valentine lives far away from her boyfriend and from the betrayal and humiliation of August by his girlfriend,, Karin. Kieslowski male heroes do not respond with physical violence to the challenge to their authority/patriarchy but find themselves either actively or passively restoring the patriarchal order by the end of the movies. Oliver tricks Julie into cooperating with him in completing the concerto and she ends up sleeping with him (presumably adopting him as a replacement of her husband), Karol “gets even? with his wife, punishes her for her unauthorized sexuality and thus regain her love, and August (the most passive of the male leading characters) ends up with Valentine as his cheating girlfriend dies in the ferry accident the seals the Three Colors trilogy.

Kieslowski saw his Three Colors trilogy as three stories that deals with the human condition as it reflects in the life of people in Europe of the early 1990’s, but whether he intended to do so or not, his trilogy also carry messages about gender, sexuality and class.

A feminist analysis of the Three Colors discovers this under-layer of meaning, and what it has to say about the relationships between man and woman. The over-arching and repeating theme of each one of the movies separately and all of the movies together is the triumph of white heterosexual patriarchy. Almost every time a non-authorized sexuality appears it is greatly punished, whether it is when the bad woman dies (Red) or locked up in jail (White), when a lower class prostitute sees her father among the audience in a sex show where she performs (Blue) or when extramarital affairs are bringing (or about to bring) death or destruction on families ideal (in multiple examples mentioned above in Red).


I could not disagree more. Very superficial reading of Kieslowski. If you follow his entire career, from his Lodz Film school days, you can clearly seee how he moves from a patriarchal view to one that celebrates the feminist ethic. Valentine is the new Eve of the new Europe, breathing new life, based upon Kristeva's feminist values, into a Europe that has held on to its patriarchial baggage for far too long. The OT judge learns from her. All the characters who learned the lesson of compassion over reason survive, two-by-two, the sinking of the old ark of covenant.