Tag Archives: krzysztof kieślowski

Graham On Kieślowski

As guest Rhys Graham tells us, he almost didn’t pick the legendary Polish filmmaker, for fears it was too pretentious a choice. After all, the Three Colours trilogy long felt like the epitome of European cinema, the symbol of inaccessible, languid arthouse films. Sure, we all know that the films themselves are actually beautiful, empathetic works that stand to repeat viewings, but there’s no denying they have the appearance of ornate pretention. Much like that sentence.

And that’s just one of the reasons we dive so deep into our filmmakers’ back catalogue. Because even though we could fill an entire show on Three Colours and The Double Life of Veronique alone, Kieślowski’s career up until then was an entirely different beast.

But it’s not just the Polish filmmaker we’re looking at this month. The mini-Hyphenate segment comes roaring back, as we look at the film of Charles Laughton. The legendary actor directed one film and one film only, the all-time noir classic The Night of the Hunter. So how did he get it so right on his first go? And why did he never direct again?

And before all that, we look back at some of the key films from the past month, including Claire Denis’s science fiction drama High Life, Jordan Peele’s modern horror Us, Karyn Kusama’s gritty crime saga Destroyer, and Tim Burton’s live-action remake Dumbo.

Further reading:

  • If you liked hearing about High Life, you can listen back to Lynn Shelton talking to us about the films of Claire Denis (and inadvertently ruining things for Rhys Graham)
  • Here’s an article on the impressive box office record that Us broke
  • Jordan Peele’s Twilight Zone reboot looks amazing
  • Here’s the trailer for Julia, the Tilda Swinton film mentioned by Rhys
  • A very brief history of the upcoming Gemini Man, which has been in development since the late 1990s
  • The episode of The Q&A Podcast with Jeff Goldsmith in which he interviews Destroyer co-writers Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi can be heard here
  • If you want to reminisce with us about Tim Burton’s halcyon days, you can listen back to us talk all things Burton with our first ever guest Thomas Caldwell
  • Walt Disney planned on keeping Fantasia in a sort of perpetual release, replacing segments so that audiences never saw the same film twice
  • Want to check out all our past mini-Hyphenates segments? Even if you don’t, they’re all collected here
  • We couldn’t find François Truffaut’s review of The Night of the Hunter, but here’s the New York Times quoting it, which is just as good
  • The adoration Kieślowski had for Ken Loach went both ways; here’s Loach paying tribute to Kieslowski in The Guardian in 1996
  • The SBS parody that Rhys was talking about (not actually from Full Frontal, but from its antecedent Fast Forward) is a bit of a classic
  • There’s no one link we can give you for all Kieslowski’s films on YouTube, but here’s The Scar and No End, to start you off, and you can go searching for the others yourself

Outro music: Song for the Unification of Europe, written by Patrice de Courcy (via actual composer Zbigniew Preisner), performed by Sinfonia Varsovia, from Three Colours: Blue (1993)

The latest episode of Hell Is For Hyphenates, featuring Rhys Graham talking the films of Krzystof Kieślowski, can be heard on Stitcher Smart Radio, subscribed to on iTunes, or downloaded/streamed directly from our website

Hell Is For Hyphenates – March 2019

Rhys Graham joins us to talk the films of Krzystof Kieślowski!

Australian filmmaker Rhys Graham joins Rochelle and Lee as they look back at some of the key films of this month, including Claire Denis’s science fiction drama High Life (01:10), Jordan Peele’s modern horror Us (06:37), Karyn Kusama’s gritty crime saga Destroyer (11:33), and Tim Burton’s live-action remake Dumbo (19:17).

We then check back with our semi-regular mini-Hyphenate segment to look at every single film directed by legendary actor Charles Laughton. The legendary actor of stage and screen has one credit and one credit only as director: the noir thriller The Night of the Hunter (1955). It’s considered one of the greatest films of all time. How did Laughton get it so right on his one and only try? And why did he never direct again? (26:13)

Then, Rhys takes us through the works and career of his filmmaker of the month, Polish auteur Krzystof Kieślowski. Kieślowski is best known for The Double Life of Veronique (1991) and the Three Colours trilogy (1993-1994), but before he became a beloved icon of arthouse festivals, he was busy making documentaries, shorts, and features with a distinctly verité style, documenting life under Communist rule, and the corrosive effects of the autocratic state. So how did Kieślowski go from these humble roots to being the poster child for elegant European cinema? (37:46)

The Krzysztof Kieślowski Cheat Sheet

Want to become an instant expert in our filmmaker of the month without committing yourself to an entire filmography? Then you need the Hell Is For Hyphenates Cheat Sheet: we program you a double feature that will not only make for a great evening’s viewing, but will bring you suitably up-to-speed before our next episode lands…

A SHORT FILM ABOUT KILLING (1988) and THREE COLOURS: BLUE (1993)

A Short Film About Killing is the film that, according to many, really put Krzysztof Kieślowski on the map. He basically took the fifth chapter of his epic anthology mini-series Dekalog and gave it room to breathe, editing it from 60 up to 90 minutes, and taking more time to explore the concept of murder as both crime and punishment. The film, rooted heavily in Kieślowski’s interest in the state vs the lower class, followed a misanthropic drifter whose violent tendencies eventually lead to the murder of a cab driver. The film won both the Jury Prize and the FIPRESCI Prize at the 1988 Cannes Film Festival, and cemented Kieślowski’s reputation worldwide as a filmmaker to watch. Once you’ve seen that, follow it up with perhaps the most striking chapter from his final and best-known work, Blue, the first installment of his Three Colours trilogy. Just as the ten chapters of Dekalog examined the Ten Commandments, Three Colours explored the virtues represented by the colours of the French flag. Blue is about liberty, albeit in a more esoteric than you’d expect, examining the emotional liberty experienced by Julie (Juliette Binoche) as she works to overcome a personal tragedy and revelations about her life. Watching these two films back-to-back will give you an excellent idea of what made Kieślowski such a lauded, beloved filmmaker.

Substitutions: If you can’t get or have already seen A Short Film About Killing, seek out A Short Film About Love (1988). The other film adapted from Dekalog, Love certainly benefits from the slightly longer running time, following a young man obsessed with spying on his beautiful neighbour. If you can’t get or have already seen Three Colours: Blue, get your hands on Three Colours: Red (1994). Kieślowski’s final film feels like a culmination of his life’s work, examining the themes of fraternity in a film that emphasizes the bonds that connect even the most dissimilar of strangers.

The Hidden Gem: Want to see something off the beaten path, a title rarely mentioned when people talk about the films of Krzysztof Kieślowski? Then you should track down Short Working Day (1981). Based on the June 1976 worker protests in the Polish city of Radom, the film takes place within a government building as our protagonist – once a protestor himself – is now First Secretary of the Communist Party, trying to appease the angry mob as their numbers grow and the tone becomes more violent and more dangerous.

The next episode of Hell Is For Hyphenates, featuring Rhys Graham talking the films of Krzysztof Kieślowski, will be released on 31 March 2019.

Our Next Hyphenates Rhys Graham

Writer, director, and Hi4H March 2019 guest host Rhys Graham

Rhys Graham is a Melbourne-based artist who has worked across drama, documentary, publishing, and photography.

Best known for his work as a filmmaker, Rhys has directed and co-directed shorts, features, documentaries and anthologies, with credits that include Words From the City (2007), Murundak: Songs of Freedom (2011), Galore (2013), and the Tim Winton adaptation The Turning (2013).

His work has earned nominations from the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts, the Australian Directors Guild, the Australian Film Institute, the Berlin International Film Festival, the Tribeca Film Festival, and more.

But naturally all of those achievements will fade into the background as he tackles his greatest challenge to date: Hell Is For Hyphenates guest host!

But which filmmaker has he chosen to talk about on the show?

It’s everyone’s favourite consonant-heavy Polish director, Krzysztof Kieślowski!

Kieślowski is probably best known for his thematic Three Colours trilogy – Blue, White and Red – which examined the three political ideals at the heart of the French Republic: liberty, equality, and fraternity.

But that’s just one corner of his career. Kieślowski made his start in documentaries and social-realist films that often focused on the plight of the working classes.

His interest in thematically-connected dramatic works went far beyond Three Colours. He made the epic Dekalog, a ten-part series that explored each of the ten commandments, and at the time of his death was planning a trilogy called Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory, all of which were eventually made by other filmmakers in tribute.

So why did Kieślowski’s works strike such a nerve across international cinema? And what is it about them that so appeals to Rhys?

Join us on March 31 when we find out!

Our next filmmaker of the month, Krzysztof Kieślowski