Krzysztof Kieslowski was born in Warsaw in 1941. His father suffered from tuberculosis and the family moved literally dozens of time in search of treatment when Krzysztof was young. He attended the Lodz film school in Poland from 1964 to 1968. During these years the government of Poland supported film making financially and allowed greater freedom of expression than in later years when censorship was quite strict.
Early in his career Kieslowski focused on making documentaries regarding life in Poland. Later he changed to fiction because he believed these films gave him more freedom of artistic expression.
One early fiction film is especially relevant as a precursor to The Double Life of Veronique. Blind Chance (completed in 1981 but not released by the censors until 1987) is much like Sliding Doors (1998) in that the life experiences of the lead character are determined by the chance event of whether he just makes or misses a train. During Blind Chance he runs down the same platform to catch the same train 3 times. Once he catches the train, once a policeman stops him, and once he misses the train but meets an old girlfriend. Each of these chance events leads to three very different lives: Party member, union member who resists the government and; and a quiet life in which he is happily married. In a similar way, Weronika and Veronique end up leading very different lives as a result of different decisions about their careers.
While still working in Poland Kieslowski’s most famous work is probably The Decalogue (1988). This is a 10 part TV film series set in a sterile high-rise housing development – each part is associated with one of Ten Commandments.
With the fall of Communism the opportunity for international collaboration opened up for Kieslowski. The Double Life of Veronique (1991) was his first international movie, being made partly in Poland and partly in France.
Kieslowski’s most famous work is clearly the Three Colors trilogy – Blue (1993), White (1994), and Red (1994). These are the colors of the French flag and he associated each color with the French ideals of liberty, equality, and fraternity. The filming for this trilogy was completed in a remarkably short 9-month period during which Kieslowski worked on parts of the different films simultaneously; e.g. editing one while filming another.
After completion of the trilogy, Kieslowski announced his retirement from film. Like Weronika and Veronique he had heart trouble and he died in 1996 on operating table in Poland. Perhaps the stress of making the trilogy so quickly and in new environments took its toll, along with chain smoking, on Kieslowski’s health. In that regard he made a choice similar to Weronika regarding his life and his career.
• A Tribute to Krzysztof Kieslowski. http://my.dreamwiz.coom/jyjung71/eng/kie/bio.html
• Wikipedia, Krzysztof Kieslowski
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