Friday, November 06, 2009

Individual Vs. The State

I recently re-watched one of my favorite films, Blue by Krystof Kieslowski. The film focuses on the concept of liberty (it's part of a trilogy (Blue, White, and Red - colors of the French flag and each film correspondents thematically with the three values represented by the colors - liberty, equality, and fraternity) however, like all Kieslowski's (later) films, it's not the political that Kieslowski focused on but the personal.

The film follows Julie and questions if a person can be truly free of everyone and everything? At the start of the film, Julie loses her only daughter and her composer husband. She decides to completely cut her self off from her old world and all people, can she live a life of complete isolation? Her liberty from people is what the film tries to explore and does so beautifully.

When I was watching the commentary by Anne Insdorf, a colleague and scholar of Kieslowski's, she noted how keenly aware he was of the political situation (in fact the movie itself can serve as a metaphor for the Europeans unification efforts), since in his early career he produced documentaries in Communist Poland, but that after the fall of Communism he chose to make movies about the individual, staying away from overt political messages. This seemed to slightly surprise Insdorf, why would someone who was interested and invested in the politics choose to explore the individual over and over again, but it made perfect sense to me.

When the political intrudes on every part of your life like the Communist regime Kieslowski lived under, the last thing you want to show, over and over again, is the political generalities. Kieslowski knew the personal was much more richer way to connect to people and explore what was really important over the political dogmatism that some people think is the way to reveal the truth. The individual will always be more compelling and more truer than the State.

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