Three Colors: White

From Academic Kids

Template:Infobox Movie (2)

White is the English language title of the 1993 French- and Polish-language film, Trois couleurs: Blanc or Trzy kolory: Biały (available with English subtitles).

Co-written, produced, and directed by Krzysztof Kieślowski, White is the second in the Three Colors trilogy, themed on the French Revolutionary ideals, following Blue and preceding Red.


Primary cast


Plot synopsis

This film illustrates the second theme of the Three Colors trilogy, equality, through the two desires of the protagonist Karol Karol: improving his station in life, and getting even—i.e., revenge. In contrast to the introspective, melancholy, and eventually hopeful stories of Blue and Red, it is a black comedy.

After opening with a brief, seemingly irrelevant scene of a suitcase on an airport carousel, the story quickly focuses on a Paris divorce court where Karol is pleading with the judge — the same proceeding that Juliette Binoche's character briefly stumbled upon in Blue. The immigrant Karol, despite his difficulty in understanding French, is made to understand that his wife Dominique does not love him. The grounds for divorce are humiliating: Karol was unable to consummate the marriage. Along with his wife, he loses his means of support (a beauty salon they jointly owned) and the rest of his cash in a series of mishaps, and is soon a beggar.

In a Paris subway station, performing songs from his native Poland for spare change, Karol meets and befriends another Pole, Mikolaj. While Karol has lost his wife and his property, Mikolaj is married and successful but suicidal. Through a hazardous scheme, Mikolaj helps him return to Poland, where he returns to working as a hairdresser with his brother (played by Jerzy Stuhr; Stuhr and Zamachowski also played brothers in the tenth episode of The Decalogue, likewise a comedy about capitalism).

With the shift of scene to Poland, Karol becomes ruthlessly ambitious, focusing his energies on money-making schemes and eventually going into business (of a vaguely defined but possibly illegal nature) with Mikolaj, while learning French and brooding over his wife's abandonment. He uses his new financial influence — in a world where, as one character observes, everything is for sale — to execute a complex scheme to first win back Dominique, and then destroy her life by faking his own death and framing her for murder. The end of the movie, filmed months after the rest of the film, softens Dominique's image; Kieślowski said that he was not satisfied with the previous ending and wanted her to seem less of a monster.


The film has a political subtext, in which Karol's impotence and financial helplessness in France, and subsequent rise as a somewhat shady capitalist, mirror the attempts of Poland to advance from its disadvantaged position within Europe. Though Kieślowski had cheered the downfall of Poland's former communist regime, in later life he expressed a nearly equal distaste for the free-market adjustments that followed, believing that opportunities for real equality had been passed up in the pursuit of money and European prestige.

As with the rest of Three Colors, White contains numerous images that at first appear unconnected but are revealed to be flashbacks, flash-forwards, or references to other films in the trilogy. Like Blue, the film makes frequent use of its title color to convey a mood, alternately hopeful (clarity, innocence, ecstasy) and bleak (snow, stone, and the pigeon droppings that rain on Karol early in the film). At the very end of the next film, Red, the conclusion of Karol and Dominique's story is revealed in a simple fleeting couleurs : Blanc it:Tre colori: Film Bianco


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