Three Colors: White

5 commentsFilm

Post-Communist Poland through Kieślowski's (and Karol's) eyes.

Karol is down on his luck. As a Polish man living in Paris during the early 1990’s, he finds himself with very few choices when one day, almost out of the blue, his French wife decides to dump him. She takes him to court and leaves him penniless and destitute. Almost overnight, Karol has lost his barbershop and, worse, the woman he loves more than everyone and everything.

Shivering with cold, he spends his nights in Paris metro stations, playing tunes on a hair-comb for change. One night, a man recognizes a Polish folk song among Karol’s repertoire and introduces himself as Mikołaj, a fellow Pole on his way to his homeland. The two men strike up a conversation and soon Mikołaj offers to smuggle him back to Poland. The diminutive Karol squeezes into a red leather suitcase, through which Mikołaj cuts a couple of air-holes, and he becomes a piece of airplane luggage.

Several hours later at the baggage carousel of Warsaw Airport, Mikołaj watches with increased concern as every other suitcase chugs out and is carried off. His red leather suitcase never arrives. Instead, it sits atop a pile of other suitcases in the back of a pickup truck driving along a snowy hilltop. The truck snakes its way down the hill until it comes to a stop in a desolate clearing by a lake. Three men jump out and pull down their loot, among it the red suitcase. “This one’s heavy!” one of them exclaims as they greedily seize upon it and zip it open.

To their surprise, out rolls Karol, his joints locked in a fetal position. Disappointed and furious, they kick and toss him around until he rolls to the lake, face bloody, lips torn. As the looters drive off, Karol stands and brushes the snow off his clothes. He scans the desolate white landcape, then smiles and says: “Home at last.”

At that moment I hit the pause button on my VCR and went out for a walk. That day I decided I want to make movies.

Directed by Krzysztof KieślowskiStarring Zbigniew Zamachowski, Janusz Gajos and Julie Delpy

This is the opening act of Kieślowski’s White, the middle installment of his Three Colors Trilogy. He remains my favorite filmmaker and the only person outside my family whose untimely death made me cry.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Alexandre FABBRI March 4, 2011 at 7:22 am

Kieslowski’s favourite of the trilogy (because it was a love story).

Alexandre FABBRI


Meedo March 4, 2011 at 1:43 pm

Thanks for sharing. I didn’t know that. It’s definitely the least acclaimed of the three, I suspect because of its often-misidentified main theme. It’s as much a story of love for a woman as for a nation on the cusp of change.

White is one of my all-time favorites and definitely a film that couldn’t have been made by anyone else, especially given its director’s very dry comic sensibilities and his roots in non-fiction filmmaking.


Alexandre Fabbri March 6, 2011 at 4:35 am

Well, it has nothing to do with a nation on the cusp of change. Certainly not Poland. Kieslowski would have laughed at the suggestion.


Meedo March 6, 2011 at 11:08 am

Good then. At least I’d have made someone I care about laugh.


Jamz November 20, 2015 at 6:21 pm

julia, i wish i had more time to explore this cnuotry. at first it seems hard to get to..or hard to get used to, not sure which. but then beyond the hardness there is a lot of warmth, and a lot of creativity! filling up, filling up! and i wont kick you out! :) loveyaelian, eller hur? inget emot vad ‘hon’ e4r…ja, flygplatsen e4r inte mycket att hurra ff6r och polen ser ju ve4ldigt gre5tt och he5rt ut, men det finns se5 mycket annat om man bara tittar lite ne4rmare! kramrachel! sweetness, what a comment. indeed trying to catch up with myself. never ending story. but i do not completely get this saying, gotta do some google perhaps. or can you explain it? hugs!anki, dankjewel! ik probeer het rustig te doen. weet niet of het lukt! liefsmonica, yep i am having a hard time following myself…hey there! hey here!demie, oh wow, where is she-he from? hugsgracia, well the soups are delicious here! and so is the vodka! :) xx.annika tack! var fick jag ff6rse4kringsbolaget ifre5n? har jag drf6mt det alltse5? hihih kramarsanghamitra, indeed delightful! he is! i am not having a lot of time for photographs but hopefully still some more to come.merel, JA! leuk is dat! en ik mag hem graag fotografeeren ook!


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