February Meeting Films are now open for discussion

The three films we discussed during our February 2008 meeting, Double Life of Venonique, Sliding Doors, and There Will Be Blood, are now open for discussion here on the blogsite.


One thought on “February Meeting Films are now open for discussion

  1. I adored this film. I am working on a longer review presently, but to get this commentary off the ground, what follows is the condensed Amazon.com version I wrote up. The more extended narrative and review will follow later.


    Director Krzysztof Kieslowski had previously explored the concept of multiple and parallel possibilities in life for the same person with his film, PRZYPADEK, (BLIND CHANCE) 1987, and with a brief subplot in the ninth episode of THE DECALOGUE (1990). With VERONIQUE, he probed deeper into the metaphysical probabilities in life, and postulated that each of us could, or might have a “doppelganger” out there, walking on this sphere just as we are, two almost identical parts of the same spiritual entity, and two separate but nearly identical souls. We can, or might be “aware” of that other presence, and we could share insights, instincts, fears, mishaps, dangers, and health issues.

    Weronika (Irene Jacob) lived in Poland, a young woman still residing at home with her father. She has a fabulous natural singing voice, and is discovered one day by a famous music teacher—but she also has a cardiac condition that she does not deal with. Disregarding her heart problems, she launched into strenuous voice training, and plunged headlong into a fledgling career—but during what would have been a triumphant singing debut, she collapsed and died mid-performance.

    We then are introduced to Veronique (Irene Jacob) who lived in France. She was a music teacher, who seemed to be taking singing lessons. She had recently returned from a trip to Poland, and without realizing it, she and Weronika had glimpsed each other while in the Great Square at Krakow. Weronika had seen Veronique clearly, although she made little of it. Veronique had snapped a photograph of Weronika without recognition of her. There is a myth that if we ever meet our doppelganger, one of us will die. Krieslowski seemed to subscribe to this notion.

    Moments after Weronika’s death, Veronique while making love suddenly felt a tremendous loss, an overwhelming sense of grief—somehow becoming aware that she was now “alone” in the world. She immediately contacted her singing teacher and cancelled her lessons, abandoned the notion of a singing career. This cross over of instinct or genetic knowledge was not explained—it is just presented.

    Most of the film dealt with Veronique’s life in France. She fell in love with a dashing and mysterious writer and puppeteer, who somehow seemed to “understand” the duality of her nature, and of her life. When he created two puppets, possibly representing this probability, Veronique fled from the relationship, fled from her full recognition of her special circumstance. It was if Weronika had ventured forth first on this firmament, like a fraternal twin, taking a breath mere minutes before the other. The choices she made for herself, however catastrophic, resulted somehow to serve as guidelines and considerations later for Veronique.

    Kieslowski presented us several delicious overlapping and synchronicious symbols and objects that became the common warp and weave of the two lives in both countries—leaves, upside down imagery, landscapes, churches, colors, string, fathers, missing mothers, toys, and a weak heart among others; nothing overt yet still significant enough to reinforce our tingle of deju vu. There is a reoccurring character in both scenarios—a stern looking woman is a large hat; reminiscent of the angelic “observer” who appeared in most of the episodes of DECOLOGUE.

    Kieslowski’s universe was both Gnostic and existential, natural and surrealistic, mundane and nearly surreal at times—but there is no doubt that he led the way for many other film directors to explore to notions and philosophies he created. Many of us presently are less impressed with him than we should be, for we are inundated with CGI games that effortlessly offer us multiple choices for specific outcomes. We make one choice and our character is killed. We simply rewind, back up and start over, making another choice and hoping to emerge victorious, the master of our fantasy scenario. In the 1980’s however this was a “new” twist, a new concept—the role of both chance and parallel histories.

    THE DOUBLE LIFE OF VERONIQUE (1991) took Cannes and the world by storm in 1991—despite its nonsensical plot premise and unorthodox structure, liberally mixing non-linear and parallel storylines with metaphysical postulates. I feel that it is a classic, a barn burner, a trend setter, and it is not to be missed.

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