THREE COLORS: WHITE (1994) C widescreen 91m dir: Krzysztof Kieslowski

w/Zbigniew Zamachowski, Julie Delpy, Janusz Gajos, Jerzy Stuhr, Grzegorz Warchol, Jerzy Nowak, Aleksander Bardini, Cezary Harasimowicz, Jerzy Trela, Cezary Pazura, Michel Lisowski, Piotr Machalica

From the Turner Classic Movies website, this article about the film by Margarita Landazuri: "Krzysztof Kieslowski's Three Colors trilogy--shot successively in one nine-month burst of creativity--is his final work as a director. The titles of the three films reflect the colors of the French flag, and their themes are loosely based on the founding principles of the French republic: 'liberte, egalite, fraternite"' (liberty, equality, brotherhood). If the first film, Blue (1993), is the trilogy's tragedy (at least in the beginning), the second, White (1994) is its comedy, albeit a black comedy.

"White's hapless protagonist (Zbigniew Zamachowski), a Polish hairdresser living in Paris, is whimsically named Karol Karol. Karol is the Polish name for Charles, and Kieslowski admitted that the character was inspired by Chaplin's Little Tramp. White begins with a shot of a large suitcase on an airport luggage carousel, then moves to a Parisian courtroom, where Karol's French wife Dominique (Julie Delpy) is divorcing him because he is unable to perform sexually. Homeless, broke, rejected and scorned by his ex-wife, Karol ends up playing a comb kazoo in the Metro, begging for coins. There, he meets a fellow Pole who agrees to help smuggle him back to Poland in that oversize suitcase. All does not go as planned, however, and one of the funniest moments in the film comes when Karol finds himself beaten and bloody, dumped in a snowy, desolate Polish field. Looking around, he happily exclaims, 'Home at last!'

"Poland had traded communism for democracy in 1989, and by the early 1990s was transitioning to a western-style economy, where anything is available for a price. Karol sees opportunities everywhere, and shrewdly takes advantage of them. Before long, he too has transitioned, from a Chaplinesque sad sack to a savvy businessman in a cashmere coat with slicked-back hair. But he's still longing for the ex-wife who rejected him, and now that he's achieved 'egalite,' proving himself her equal and more, he's determined to win her back, and to get revenge.

"French actress Julie Delpy had auditioned for Kieslowski's The Double Life of Veronique (1991), but even though she was wrong for that part, he remembered her when he was casting White. 'He was very controlling,' she later recalled, without rancor. 'He was always sitting right under the camera, watching, smoking. That nice diffused lighting was smoke!' She found this way of working especially disconcerting when shooting a sex scene. Kieslowski sat under the camera inches away from her, timing her moans with his watch. When he wanted her to escalate the moans, he would gesture frantically.

"Delpy also revealed that after the film wrapped, Kieslowski called her back to shoot a new ending. During editing, he had realized that the film needed closure between Karol and Dominique. 'Kieslowski wanted to give my character a little more warmth, he wanted to give her a chance to say something.' He also wanted to add 'a glimpse of hope,' she said.

"White premiered at Berlin Film Festival in February of 1994, where it won the Silver Bear for directing. Variety critic Lisa Nesselson called it 'involving, bittersweet and droll.' Other critics considered it the weakest film of the trilogy, perhaps because it's a comedy. But for Caryn James of the New York Times the opposite was true. 'Anyone who has seen the austere, pretentious Blue ... will scarcely believe that the witty, deadpan White was made by the same man,' she wrote, calling it 'a rich, light-handed marvel.' British critic Geoff Andrew agreed: 'It's often cruel, of course, and cool as an ice-pick, but it's still endowed with enough unsentimental humanity to end with a touching, lyrical admission of the power of love.' Kieslowski himself once said it was his favorite of the trilogy because it was about love. He retired as a director after completing the final film in the trilogy, Red (1994), but continued to write scripts, intending them for others to direct. He died in 1996, less than two years after his retirement."