Three Colours trilogy

The Three Colours trilogy (Polish: Trzy kolory, French: Trois couleurs) is the collective title of three films directed by Krzysztof Kieślowski, two made in French and one primarily in Polish: Three Colours: Blue (1993), Three Colours: White (1994), and Three Colours: Red (1994). All three were co-written by Kieślowski and Krzysztof Piesiewicz (with story consultants Agnieszka Holland and Sławomir Idziak) and have musical scores by Zbigniew Preisner.

Three Colours trilogy
Directed byKrzysztof Kieślowski
Produced byMarin Karmitz
Yvonne Crenn
Written byKrzysztof Kieślowski
Krzysztof Piesiewicz
StarringJuliette Binoche
Benoît Régent
Zbigniew Zamachowski
Julie Delpy
Irène Jacob
Jean-Louis Trintignant
Music byZbigniew Preisner
CinematographySlawomir Idziak (Blue)
Edward Kłosiński (White)
Piotr Sobociński (Red)
Edited byUrszula Lesiak
Distributed byMK2 Distribution
Release date
  • 8 September 1993 (1993-09-08) (Blue)
  • 26 January 1994 (1994-01-26) (White)
  • 8 September 1994 (1994-09-08) (Red)
Running time
288 minutes
Box office$6.1 million (total)

Red received 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 left-to-right 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.”

The trilogy is also interpreted[1] respectively as an anti-tragedy, an anti-comedy, and an anti-romance.

Connections and patterns

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[2] 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.[3]

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 films' 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

Three Colors: Blue
Three Colors: White
Three Colors: 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.


Blue holds a 98% rating on the Rotten Tomatoes website, based on 43 reviews.[4] The second part of the trilogy, White, was ranked with 88% based on 43 reviews,[5] while its final film, Red, was certified "Fresh" on the same website and received 100% based on 51 reviews.[6]

Roger Ebert included the trilogy in its entirety to his "Great Movies" list.[7]

Ranked #11 in Empire magazine's "The 33 Greatest Movie Trilogies" in 2010.[8]

Ranked #14 in Empire magazine's "The 100 Best Films of World Cinema" in 2010.[9]


  1. Ebert, Roger (9 March 2003). "Three Colors Trilogy: Blue, White, Red".
  2. 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.
  3. Leong, Anthony. "Demystifying Three Colors: Blue". Media Circus. Retrieved 30 October 2011.
  4. "Three Colors: Blue (Trois Couleurs: Bleu)". Rotten Tomatoes.
  5. "Three Colors: White (Trois Couleurs: Blanc)". Rotten Tomatoes.
  6. "Three Colors: Red (Trois couleurs: Rouge)". Rotten Tomatoes.
  7. "Three Colors Trilogy: Blue, White, Red (1993-1994)". Chicago Sun-Times.
  8. "The 33 Greatest Movie Trilogies". Empire.
  9. "The 100 Best Films of World Cinema". Empire.
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