Three Colours trilogy

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Three Colours
FrenchTrois Couleurs
Directed byKrzysztof Kieślowski
Written by
  • Krzysztof Kieślowski
  • Krzysztof Piesiewicz
Produced byMarin Karmitz
Edited byJacques Witta
Music byZbigniew 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)
  • 14 September 1994 (1994-09-14) (Red)
Running time
  • 288 minutes
  • 94 minutes (Blue)
  • 88 minutes (White)
  • 99 minutes (Red)
  • France
  • Poland
  • Switzerland
  • French
  • Polish (White)
Box office$6.1 million

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), represented by the Flag of France. The trilogy is an international co-production between France, Poland, and Switzerland in the French language, with the exception of White in Polish and French.

All three installments 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. All three films garnered widespread acclaim from reviews, with Red 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[edit]

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[edit]

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


Three Colors (soundtracks)
Soundtrack album by
Released1993 - 1994
GenreSoundtrack, Classical
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.


Film Rotten Tomatoes Metacritic
Blue 98% (56 reviews)[5] 87 (11 reviews)[6]
White 89% (55 reviews)[7] 91 (11 reviews)[8]
Red 100% (63 reviews)[9] 100 (11 reviews)[10]

The trilogy as a whole topped The San Diego Union-Tribune's list of the best films of 1994,[11] ranked third on San Jose Mercury News writer Glenn Lovell's year-end list,[12] ten on a list by Michael Mills of The Palm Beach Post,[13] and was also on unranked top-tens list by Tulsa World's Dennis King[14] and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution critics Eleanor Ringel and Steve Murray.[15] Roger Ebert ranked the trilogy as a whole at No. 5 on his list of the "Best films of 1990s".[16] He also included the trilogy in its entirety to his "Great Movies" list.[17]

Ranked #11 in Empire magazine's "The 33 Greatest Movie Trilogies" in 2010.[18]

Ranked #14 in Empire magazine's "The 100 Best Films of World Cinema" in 2010.[19]


  1. ^ Abrahamson, Patrick (2 June 1995). "Kieslowski's Many Colours". Oxford University Student newspaper. Archived from the original on 19 February 2020. Retrieved 7 December 2020.
  2. ^ Ebert, Roger (9 March 2003). "Three Colors Trilogy: Blue, White, Red". Archived from the original on 13 April 2013. Retrieved 17 January 2017.
  3. ^ Skrodzka-Bates, Aga (2011). "Clandestine human and cinematic passages in the United Europe: The Polish Plumber and Kieślowski's hairdresser". Studies in Eastern European Cinema. 2: 75–90. doi:10.1386/seec.2.1.75_1. S2CID 145608963.
  4. ^ Leong, Anthony. "Demystifying Three Colors: Blue". Media Circus. Archived from the original on 26 October 2002. Retrieved 30 October 2011.
  5. ^ "Three Colours: Blue". Rotten Tomatoes. Archived from the original on 29 August 2023. Retrieved 8 July 2023.
  6. ^ "Three Colours: Blue (1993): Reviews". Metacritic. Archived from the original on 22 April 2023. Retrieved 2 December 2009.
  7. ^ "Three Colours: White (1994)". Rotten Tomatoes. Archived from the original on 25 June 2023. Retrieved 8 July 2023.
  8. ^ "Three Colours: White (1994): Reviews". Metacritic. Archived from the original on 28 May 2023. Retrieved 8 July 2023.
  9. ^ "Three Colours: Red (1994)". Rotten Tomatoes. Archived from the original on 30 April 2023. Retrieved 8 July 2023.
  10. ^ "Three Colours: Red (1994): Reviews". Metacritic. Archived from the original on 19 November 2022. Retrieved 8 July 2023.
  11. ^ Elliott, David (25 December 1994). "On the big screen, color it a satisfying time". The San Diego Union-Tribune (1, 2 ed.). p. E=8.
  12. ^ 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.
  13. ^ Mills, Michael (30 December 1994). "It's a Fact: 'Pulp Fiction' Year's Best". The Palm Beach Post (Final ed.). p. 7.
  14. ^ 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.
  15. ^ "The Year's Best". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. 25 December 1994. p. K/1.
  16. ^ "Ebert's 10 Best Lists: 1967–present". Chicago Sun-Times. Archived from the original on September 8, 2006.
  17. ^ "Three Colors Trilogy: Blue, White, Red (1993-1994)". Chicago Sun-Times. Archived from the original on 18 December 2018. Retrieved 11 May 2022.
  18. ^ "The 33 Greatest Movie Trilogies". Empire. 5 August 2023. Archived from the original on 20 December 2022. Retrieved 24 July 2021.
  19. ^ "The 100 Best Films Of World Cinema". Empire. 2019. Archived from the original on 23 November 2015. Retrieved 28 June 2023.

External links[edit]