Three Colours trilogy

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Three Colours trilogy
Three Colors trilogy poster.png
Directed by Krzysztof Kieślowski
Written by
  • Krzysztof Kieślowski
  • Krzysztof Piesiewicz
Produced by Marin Karmitz
Edited by Jacques Witta
Music by Zbigniew Preisner
Distributed by
  • MK2 Diffusion (France)
  • Rialto Film (Switzerland)
Release dates
  • 8 September 1993 (1993-09-08)(Blue)
  • 26 January 1994 (1994-01-26)(White)
  • 8 February 1994 (1994-14-08)(Red)
Running time
288 minutes
  • France
  • Poland
  • Switzerland
  • French
  • Polish (White)
Box office$6.1 million (total)

The Three Colours trilogy (French : Trois couleurs, Polish : Trzy kolory) 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 (with story consultants Agnieszka Holland and Sławomir Idziak), produced by Marin Karmitz and composed by Zbigniew Preisner.


White received generally positive reviews, while Blue and Red garnered widespread acclaim from reviews, with the latter receiving nominations for Best Director, Best Original Screenplay and Best Cinematography at the 67th Academy Awards.


Blue, white, and red are the colours of the French flag in hoist-to-fly order, and the story of each film is loosely based on one of the three political ideals in the motto of the French Republic: liberty, equality, fraternity. As with the treatment of the Ten Commandments in Dekalog , the illustration of these principles is often ambiguous and ironic. As Kieślowski noted in an interview with an Oxford University student newspaper, "The words [liberté, egalité, fraternité] are French because the money [to fund the films] is French. If the money had been of a different nationality we would have titled the films differently, or they might have had a different cultural connotation. But the films would probably have been the same". [1]

The trilogy has also been interpreted by film critic Roger Ebert as, respectively, an anti-tragedy, an anti-comedy, and an anti-romance. [2]

Connections and patterns

A symbol common to the three films is that of an underlying link or thing that keeps the protagonist linked to their past. In the case of Blue, it is the lamp of blue beads, and a symbol seen throughout the film in the TV of people falling (doing either sky diving or bungee jumping); the director is careful to show falls with no cords at the beginning of the film, but as the story develops the image of cords becomes more and more apparent as a symbol of a link to the past. In the case of White the item that links Karol to his past is a 2 Fr. coin and a plaster bust of Marianne [3] that he steals from an antique store in Paris. In the case of Red the judge never closes or locks his doors and his fountain pen, which stops working at a crucial point in the story. [4]

Another recurring image related to the spirit of the film is that of elderly people recycling bottles: In Blue, an old woman in Paris is recycling bottles and Julie does not notice her (in the spirit of freedom), in White, an old man also in Paris is trying to recycle a bottle but cannot reach the container and Karol looks at him with a sinister grin on his face (in the spirit of equality) and in Red an old woman cannot reach the hole of the container and Valentine helps her (in the spirit of fraternity).

In Blue, while Julie is searching for her husband's mistress in the central courthouse, she accidentally steps into an active court trial and is immediately turned around by security. While Julie is peeking into the courtroom, Karol from White can be heard pleading to the judge in a scene that begins his chapter of the trilogy.

Each film's ending shot is of a character crying. In Blue, Julie de Courcy cries looking into space. In White, Karol cries as he looks at his wife. In Red, the judge Kern cries as he looks through his broken window out at the camera.

Many main characters from Blue and White, including Julie and Karol, appear at the ending of Red as survivors of a ferry accident.

Principal cast

Three Colours: Blue
Three Colours: White
Three Colours: Red


Three Colors (soundtracks)
Soundtrack album by
Released1993 - 1994
Genre Soundtrack, Classical
Label Virgin
Capitol Records

Music for all three parts of the trilogy was composed by Zbigniew Preisner and performed by Silesian Philharmonic choir along with Sinfonia Varsovia.


Blue holds a 98% rating on the Rotten Tomatoes website, based on 45 reviews. [5] The second part of the trilogy, White , was ranked with 87% based on 46 reviews, [6] while its final film, Red , was certified "Fresh" on the same website and received 100% based on 53 reviews. [7]

The entire trilogy topped The San Diego Union-Tribune 's list of the best films of 1994, [8] was ranked number three on San Jose Mercury News writer Glenn Lovell's year-end list, [9] ten on a list by Michael Mills of The Palm Beach Post , [10] and was also on unranked top-tens list by Tulsa World 's Dennis King [11] and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution critics Eleanor Ringel and Steve Murray. [12] Roger Ebert ranked the trilogy as a whole at No. 5 on his list of the "Best films of 1990s". [13] He also included the trilogy in its entirety to his "Great Movies" list. [14]

Ranked #11 in Empire magazine's "The 33 Greatest Movie Trilogies" in 2010. [15]

Ranked #14 in Empire magazine's "The 100 Best Films of World Cinema" in 2010. [16]

Related Research Articles

<i>Three Colours: Blue</i> 1993 film

Three Colours: Blue 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.

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.

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>Dekalog</i> 1988–1989 Film cycle directed by Krzysztof Kieślowski

Dekalog is a 1988 Polish drama series of films directed by Krzysztof Kieślowski for television and co-written by Kieślowski with Krzysztof Piesiewicz, with music by Zbigniew Preisner. It consists of ten one-hour films, inspired by the decalogue of the Ten Commandments. Each short film explores characters facing one or several moral or ethical dilemmas as they live in an austere housing project in 1980s Poland.

<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.

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.

The 19th Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards, honoring the best in film for 1993, were given on 11 December 1993.

The 29th National Society of Film Critics Awards, given on 3 January 1995, honored the best filmmaking of 1994.

Jean-Pierre Lorit is a French actor.

<i>Three Colors: White</i> (soundtrack) 1994 film score by Zbigniew Preisner

White is the soundtrack to the film Three Colors: White by Polish composer Zbigniew Preisner and performed by Silesian Philharmonic choir along with Sinfonia

<i>Three Colors: Red</i> (soundtrack) 1994 film score by Zbigniew Preisner

Three Colors: Red is the soundtrack album to the award-winning film Three Colors: Red, with music composed by Zbigniew Preisner. The music is performed by the Sinfonia Varsovia.

<i>No End</i> (film) 1985 Polish film

No End is a 1985 film directed by Krzysztof Kieślowski and starring Grażyna Szapołowska, Maria Pakulnis, and Aleksander Bardini. The film is about the state of martial law in Poland after the banning of the trade union Solidarity in 1981. Kieślowski worked with several regular collaborators for the first time on No End.

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.

<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.

Requiem for My Friend is a major and the first non-film musical work composed by Zbigniew Preisner. The composition was meant to honour the composer's late friend, the director Krzysztof Kieślowski, with whom he collaborated while working on a number of films, including the famous Three Colours trilogy. The album was released in 1998 although some parts of the work must have been ready upon Kieślowski's passing as Preisner asserted in an interview that "the Requiem had accompanied Krzysztof in his last journey".

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.


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  2. Ebert, Roger (9 March 2003). "Three Colors Trilogy: Blue, White, Red".
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  9. Lovell, Glenn (25 December 1994). "The Past Picture Show the Good, the Bad and the Ugly -- a Year Worth's of Movie Memories". San Jose Mercury News (Morning Final ed.). p. 3.
  10. Mills, Michael (30 December 1994). "It's a Fact: 'Pulp Fiction' Year's Best". The Palm Beach Post (Final ed.). p. 7.
  11. King, Dennis (25 December 1994). "SCREEN SAVERS in a Year of Faulty Epics, The Oddest Little Movies Made The Biggest Impact". Tulsa World (Final Home ed.). p. E1.
  12. "The Year's Best". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution . 25 December 1994. p. K/1.
  13. "Ebert's 10 Best Lists: 1967–present". Chicago Sun-Times. Archived from the original on September 8, 2006.
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  16. "The 100 Best Films of World Cinema". Empire.