When I first conceived of this class, there were three touchstones: Maggie Nelson’s luminous Bluets,Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, and the French film Blue, the first in Krzysztof Kieślowski’s Trois Couleurs trilogy.
I freely admit that I am not a film person. I have never been a film person.
I like movies, don’t get me wrong, but I’ve never studied film. Film as art object is not a familiar orientation. I watch movies the way that most people read novels: for the story. I like to think that I appreciate the visual elements of the medium, but these are things that don’t come naturally to me, perspectives that I’m not trained to appreciate, and details that I generally fail to notice. The same can be said, by the way, about other visual media: photography, painting, sculpture, but I digress.
All of this to say that I have watched maybe five French films in my life: Blue is one of them, and one that I wanted to revisit.
How? Why? What to say?
Blueness circulates through the film in both large and small ways. It’s present in details, like a manila paper folder or the ink that flows from a composer’s pen or the glaze on a large planting pot in the far corner of a room. But it’s also present in large ways: the swimming pool where the main character spends her time, the glass bead mobile which is the only object she keeps from her family home, the lollipop that she gobbles down in an attempt to swallow, quite literally, her grief from the loss of her family, the blasts of light which punctuate moments of impact. . .
Blueness here is a timbre. It’s a tone, visually but also emotionally. It dictates the choice of flute for the majority of the soundtrack . . . Blue sounds like flutes as opposed to brass or percussion.
“It’s very expressive of myself. I just lump everything in a great heap which I have labelled ‘the past,’ and, having thus emptied this deep reservoir that was once myself, I am ready to continue” (This quotation is not from the film but rather from the end of Save Me the Waltz) but it’s echoing here despite the lack of reference to anything blue . . .