White

 

This 1994 French film by Polish director Kieslowski is set in both France and Poland.  It is the middle of three films, Blue, White, and Red for the three colors in France’s flag--- which stand for Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity.  Therefore, this film is about Equality.  It is important to understand this because a Kieslowski film tends to challenge you to try to figure out just what he is getting at.

 

The story starts out in Paris with a Polish hairdresser about to get divorced by his French wife due his inability to consummate the marriage.  He doesn’t want the divorce.  Everything is a disaster in his life.  The pigeons shit on him on his way to court, after the divorce is granted he is broke and his credit card is no longer any good, and he finds himself begging on the streets of Paris when a fellow Pole sees him and offers him a job in Poland.  A man wants to end his life and the job would be to kill him, as he does not want to commit suicide.

 

He has neither money nor passport to get back to Poland so he is shipped back in his trunk as luggage.  However, luggage thieves at the Warsaw airport in Poland steal the trunk and when they open it out in a desolate area and find him inside they beat him up. 

 

He struggles back to town and moves in with an old friend and starts back as a hairdresser.  But then he becomes ever more assertive and starts branching out and making deals.  He contacts the guy who had offered him the job as a hit man as he needs the money for a land deal.  The arrangement is made for the killing and he shoots the man…but with a blank.  Then he asks if he is sure he really wants him to kill him and the man changes his mind and they eventually become successful business partners.  As he is successful, his personality changes from Mr. Meek to Mr. Successful and he is well off.  But he is still obsessed with his ex-wife who will not even talk to him on the phone.  So he decides to fake his death and she comes to his funeral where he sees her cry as he is buried.

 

When she returns to her hotel room after the funeral, he is there in her bed.  They make love and this time he is able to consummate the relationship.  The next morning he leaves before she wakes up and the police arrive at the hotel.  She is arrested and convicted of murdering her husband in order to get his money.

 

The movie ends with him visiting the prison where she is incarcerated.

 

Maybe he will figure a way to get her out of prison.  Maybe they will become man and wife again.  Maybe not….?  Maybe he prefers to have her locked up where he can go and visit and watch her through binoculars as he does at the end.  On one level this movie is about obsessive love and revenge, therefore it is hard to predict the future between these two.  Also, remember that in many ways this all has a comedic twist to it so you should not take it too seriously.

 

But in the final analysis we come back to the issue of Equality.  That is the driving force in the movie.  When the relationship between husband and wife is not equal, when she is the dominant person, he is unable to consummate the marriage.  When he gains control of his life and becomes assertive and is now equal to his strong willed wife, he is able to consummate the marriage.  In short, Equality is not just being equal before the law, or equal in some general way, it effects the most intimate of our relationships.