Three Colours: Blue

Last updated
Three Colours: Blue
French theatrical release poster
French Trois couleurs : Bleu
Directed by Krzysztof Kieślowski
Written by
Produced by Marin Karmitz
Cinematography Sławomir Idziak
Edited by Jacques Witta
Music by Zbigniew Preisner
Distributed by
  • MK2 Diffusion (France)
  • Rialto Film (Switzerland)
Release dates
  • 8 September 1993 (1993-09-08)(France and Switzerland)
  • 10 October 1993 (1993-10-10)(Warsaw)
Running time
94 minutes
  • France
  • Poland
  • Switzerland
Box office$1.33 million [1]
(United States)

Three Colours: Blue (French : Trois couleurs : Bleu, Polish : Trzy kolory. Niebieski) is a 1993 drama film directed and co-written by Polish filmmaker Krzysztof Kieślowski. Blue is the first of three films that comprise the Three Colours trilogy, themed on the French Revolutionary ideals of liberty, equality, and fraternity; it is followed by White and Red . According to Kieślowski, the subject of the film is liberty, specifically emotional liberty, rather than its social or political meaning. [2]


Set in Paris, the film is about a woman whose husband and child are killed in a car accident. Suddenly set free from her familial bonds, she attempts to cut herself off from everything and live in isolation from her former ties, but finds that she can't free herself from human connections. [3]

Blue received critical acclaim upon release and won several accolades, including the Golden Lion and the Volpi Cup for Best Actress at the Venice Film Festival, and it is among Kieślowski's most celebrated works. [4] [5]


Julie (Juliette Binoche), the wife of the famous French composer Patrice de Courcy, loses her husband and daughter in an automobile accident she herself survives. While recovering in a hospital, Julie attempts suicide by overdosing on pills, but cannot swallow them. After being released from the hospital, Julie, who it is suggested wrote (or helped to write) much of her husband's famous pieces, destroys what is left of them. Calling Olivier (Benoît Régent), a collaborator of her husband's who has always admired her, she sleeps with him before bidding him goodbye. Emptying the family house and putting it up for sale, she takes an apartment in Paris near Rue Mouffetard without telling anyone, her only memento being a mobile of blue beads that is hinted to have belonged to her daughter.

Julie disassociates herself from her past life and distances herself from former friendships, even being no longer recognized by her mother, who suffers from Alzheimer's. She also reclaims and destroys the unfinished score for her late husband's last commissioned work − a piece celebrating European unity following the end of the Cold War. Excerpts of its music, however, haunt her throughout the film.

Despite her desire to live anonymously and alone, Julie is soon confronted by her past. A boy who witnessed the accident meets Julie and gives her a cross necklace found at the scene and asks her about her husband's last words, the punchline of an indelicate joke; Julie allows the boy to keep the necklace. Julie also reluctantly befriends an exotic dancer named Lucille (Charlotte Véry) who is having an affair with one of her neighbors and is despised by most people in the apartment building. The two women would support each other emotionally. While comforting Lucille at the club where she works, Julie sees Olivier being interviewed on TV, revealing that he kept a copy of the European piece and plans to finish it himself; Julie then sees a picture of Patrice with another woman.

Julie confronts Olivier about the European piece and asks him about the woman seen with Patrice. She tracks down Sandrine (Florence Pernel), a lawyer and Patrice's lover, and finds out that she is pregnant with his child; Julie arranges for her to have the family house, not yet sold, and eventual recognition of his paternity for the child. Julie then returns to working on the piece with Olivier and finishes the final part. She then calls Olivier, who refuses to take the piece as his own unless Julie is credited as well, to which Julie agrees. Julie then calls Olivier again, asks him if he still loves her; he says yes, and Julie proceeds to meet him.

In the final sequence, part of the completed Unity of Europe piece is played (which features chorus and a solo soprano singing in Greek the praise of divine love in Saint Paul's first letter to the Corinthians) and images are seen of all the people Julie has affected by her actions. The film ends with a shot of Julie crying before she begins to smile gradually.



Blue was an international co-production between the French companies CED Productions, Eurimages, France 3 Cinéma, and MK2 Productions, the Swiss company CAB Productions and the Polish company Studio Filmowe TOR.

Like the other films in the trilogy, Blue makes frequent visual allusions to its title: numerous scenes are shot with blue filters or blue lighting, and many objects are blue. When Julie thinks about the musical score that she has tried to destroy, blue light overwhelms the screen. The film also includes several references to the colours of the tricolor that inspired Kieślowski's trilogy: several scenes are dominated by red light, and in one scene, children dressed in white bathing suits with red floaters jump into the blue swimming pool. Another scene features a link with the next film in the trilogy: while spotting the lawyer Sandrine, her husband's mistress, Julie is seen entering a courtroom where Karol, the Polish main character of White, is being divorced by Dominique, his estranged French wife.


The occasional fade-outs and fade-ins to Julie's character are used to represent an extremely subjective point of view. According to Kieślowski, "at a certain moment, time really does pass for Julie while at the same time, it stands still. Not only does her music come back to haunt her at a certain point, but time stands still for a moment."[ verification needed ]


Three Colours: Blue received widespread acclaim from film critics. On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 98% based on 46 reviews, with an average rating of 8.5/10. [6] The website's critical consensus reads, "Three Colors: Blue contains some of director/co-writer Krzysztof Kieslowski's most visually arresting, emotionally resonant work—and boasts an outstanding performance from Juliette Binoche in the bargain." [6] On Metacritic, another review aggregator, the film has a weighted average score of 85 out of 100, indicating "universal acclaim". [7]

Marjorie Baumgarten of The Austin Chronicle said:

Blue is a film that engages the mind, challenges the senses, implores a resolution, and tells, with aesthetic grace and formal elegance, a good story and a political allegory. [8]

Derek Malcolm of The Guardian wrote:

Blue remains an intense and moving tribute to the woman at its centre who, in coming back from tragedy, almost refuses, but ultimately accepts the only real love that's on offer. [9]

Year-end lists


Awards and recognition

In 2007, the film was ranked at No. 29 by The Guardian's readers poll on the list of "40 greatest foreign films of all time". [14] The film ranked 64th in BBC's 2018 list of The 100 greatest foreign language films. [15]

Related Research Articles

Juliette Binoche French actress, artist and dancer

Juliette Binoche is a French actress, artist, and dancer. She has appeared in more than sixty feature films and has been the recipient of numerous accolades, including an Academy Award, a British Academy Film Award, a Silver Bear, a Cannes Film Festival Award, Volpi Cup and a César Award.

Krzysztof Kieślowski Polish film director and screenwriter

Krzysztof Kieślowski was a Polish film director and screenwriter. He is known internationally for Dekalog (1989), The Double Life of Veronique (1991), and the Three Colours trilogy (1993 –1994). Kieślowski received numerous awards during his career, including the Cannes Film Festival Jury Prize (1988), FIPRESCI Prize, and Prize of the Ecumenical Jury (1991); the Venice Film Festival FIPRESCI Prize (1989), Golden Lion (1993), and OCIC Award (1993); and the Berlin International Film Festival Silver Bear (1994). In 1995, he received Academy Award nominations for Best Director and Best Writing.

<i>Three Colours: White</i> 1994 film

Three Colours: White is a 1994 comedy-drama film co-written, produced, and directed by Krzysztof Kieślowski. White is the second in the Three Colours trilogy, themed on the French Revolutionary ideals, following Blue and preceding Red. The film was selected as the Polish entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 67th Academy Awards, but was not accepted as a nominee.

Zbigniew Preisner Polish film score composer

Zbigniew Preisner is a Polish film score composer, best known for his work with film director Krzysztof Kieślowski. He is the recipient of the Gold Medal for Merit to Culture – Gloria Artis as well as the Knight's Cross of the Order of Polonia Restituta. He is a member of the French Film Academy.

Irène Jacob French-born Swiss actress

Irène Marie Jacob is a French-Swiss actress known for her work with Polish film director Krzysztof Kieślowski. She won the 1991 Cannes Film Festival Award for Best Actress for the Kieślowski film The Double Life of Veronique, and was nominated for the BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role for her 1994 film Three Colours: Red. Her other film appearances include The Secret Garden (1993), Beyond the Clouds (1995), U.S. Marshals (1998), and Eternity (2016).

Julie Delpy French-American actress, director, screenwriter, and singer-songwriter (born 1969)

Julie Delpy is a French-American actress, film director, screenwriter, and singer-songwriter. She studied filmmaking at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts and has directed, written, and acted in more than 30 films, including Europa Europa (1990), Voyager (1991), Three Colors: White (1993), the Before trilogy, An American Werewolf in Paris (1997), and 2 Days in Paris (2007).

<i>Three Colours</i> trilogy 1993 French psychological drama films

The Three Colours trilogy is the collective title of three psychological drama films directed by Krzysztof Kieślowski: Three Colours: Blue (1993), Three Colours: White (1994), and Three Colours: Red (1994). The trilogy was a co-production between France, Poland and Switzerland, in French language, with the exception of White in Polish and French. All three films were co-written by Kieślowski and Krzysztof Piesiewicz, produced by Marin Karmitz and composed by Zbigniew Preisner.

<i>The Double Life of Veronique</i> 1991 film

The Double Life of Veronique is a 1991 drama film directed by Krzysztof Kieślowski and starring Irène Jacob. Written by Kieślowski and Krzysztof Piesiewicz, the film explores the themes of identity, love, and human intuition through the characters of Weronika, a Polish choir soprano, and her double, Véronique, a French music teacher. The two women do not know each other, and yet they share a mysterious and emotional bond that transcends language and geography.

<i>A Short Film About Love</i> 1988 Polish film

A Short Film About Love is a 1988 Polish romantic drama film directed by Krzysztof Kieślowski and starring Grażyna Szapołowska and Olaf Lubaszenko. Written by Krzysztof Kieślowski and Krzysztof Piesiewicz, the film is about a young post office worker deeply in love with a promiscuous older woman who lives in an adjacent apartment building.

Zbigniew Zamachowski Polish actor (born 1961)

Zbigniew Zamachowski is a Polish actor.

Jacques Witta is a French film editor who began working in motion picture editing in the late 1950s. During his career, he has edited more than 60 feature films and has worked with noted French film directors such as Claude Berri and Jean Becker but is best known for his collaboration with Krzysztof Kieślowski which began with The Double Life of Véronique, and continued on Three Colors: Blue and Three Colors: Red. He was also the editor of Harrison's Flowers, which was released by Universal Pictures in the US theatrically.

Florence Pernel French actress (born 1962)

Florence Pernel is a French actress.

The 19th César Awards ceremony, presented by the Académie des Arts et Techniques du Cinéma, honoured the best French films of 1993 and took place on 26 February 1994 at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in Paris. The ceremony was chaired by Gérard Depardieu and hosted by Fabrice Luchini and Clémentine Célarié. Smoking / No Smoking won the award for Best Film.

The 20th César Awards ceremony, presented by the Académie des Arts et Techniques du Cinéma, honoured the best French films of 1994 and took place on 25 February 1995 at the Palais des Congrès in Paris. The ceremony was chaired by Alain Delon and hosted by Jean-Claude Brialy and Pierre Tchernia. Wild Reeds won the award for Best Film.

The French Syndicate of Cinema Critics has, each year since 1946, awarded a prize, the Prix Méliès, to the best French film of the preceding year. More awards have been added over time: the Prix Léon Moussinac for the best foreign film, added in 1967; the Prix Novaïs-Texeira for the best short film, added in 1999; prizes for the best first French and best first foreign films, added in 2001 and 2014, respectively; etc.

<i>Three Colours: Red</i> 1994 film

Three Colours: Red is a 1994 romantic mystery film co-written, produced and directed by Polish filmmaker Krzysztof Kieślowski. It is the final installment of the Three Colours trilogy, which examines the French Revolutionary ideals; it is preceded by Blue and White. Kieślowski had announced that this would be his final film, which proved true with the director's sudden death in 1996. Red is about fraternity, which it examines by showing characters whose lives gradually become closely interconnected, with bonds forming between two characters who appear to have little in common.

50th Venice International Film Festival 1993 film festival

The 50th annual Venice International Film Festival was held on 31 August to 11 September 1993.

Julie Bertuccelli French film director

Julie Mathilde Charlotte Claire Bertuccelli is a French director born February 12, 1968, in Boulogne-Billancourt.

Elżbieta Towarnicka Polish soprano

Elżbieta Towarnicka is a Polish operatic soprano who made an international career based at the Opera Krakowska. She is also known for singing for films, especially with music by Zbigniew Preisner including the theme song of Avalon.


  1. "Trois couleurs: Bleu (1993)". JPBox Office. Retrieved 2017-05-01.
  2. Three Colours: Blue, Bonus Features: Commentary by Anne Insdorf, A Look at "Blue".
  3. Kieślowski, Krzysztof. Kieślowski on Kieślowski. Edited by Danusia Stok. London: Faber and Faber, 1998, p. 212.
  4. "Krzysztof Kieslowski's Acclaimed Films". They Shoot Pictures, Don't They. Retrieved October 22, 2016.
  5. "Votes for Three Colours Blue (1993)". British Film Institute. Retrieved October 17, 2016.
  6. 1 2 "Three Colors: Blue (Trois Couleurs: Bleu) (1993)". Rotten Tomatoes . Retrieved 2017-11-14.
  7. "Three Colors: Blue Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved October 17, 2016.
  8. Baumgarten, Marjorie. "Calendar: Film Listings - Blue", The Austin Chronicle, March 18, 1994. Accessed May 21, 2007.
  9. "Derek Malcolm". Derek Malcolm. 14 October 1993. Retrieved November 3, 2014.
  10. Berardinelli, James (January 2, 1995). "Rewinding 1994 -- The Year in Film". ReelViews. Retrieved July 19, 2020.
  11. "Three Colors: Blue". NW Film Center. 2019-03-18. Retrieved 2020-12-08.
  12. "Three Colors Blue (1993)". Swedish Film Institute. 23 March 2014.
  13. "Chicago Film Festival 1995". Mubi.
  14. "As chosen by you...the greatest foreign films of all time". The Guardian . 11 May 2007.
  15. "The 100 Greatest Foreign Language Films". bbc. 29 October 2018. Retrieved 10 January 2021.