Few directors have explored the medium of film as expansively as Polish director Krzysztof KieÅlowski. After graduating from film school in Warsaw, KieÅlowski directed a series of social documentaries. But in exploring the literal, the film maker soon concluded that the documentary side of the medium ironically had limited power in the conveyance of real feeling and emotion. He concluded that in order to successfully convey these, one had to act.
This led KieÅlowski to dive headlong into the realm of feature films. His first offerings were documentary style exposes, but with the internationally acclaimed The Camera Buff, a more character-orientated cinematic exploration finally emerged. And a series of ten short films, each based on one of the Ten Commandments, then placed KieÅlowski at the pinnacle of cyclic film making.
For his final four films – KieÅlowski died in 1996 – The Double Life of Veronique along with the trilogy of Blue, White, and Red, Krzysztof KieÅlowski ventured beyond the ordinary, negating both physical and emotional borders. And with Veronique the writer and director successfully ventured into places where film making had rarely gone before. For within this film he elegantly explores themes such as premonition, suggestion, and intuition.
The film explores the parallel lives of two young ladies. Each is unexplainably connected to the other. Weronika resides in Poland, while Veronique lives in France. They are united in appearance, habit, music, and premonition. Through this alliance, KieÅlowski delivers a sensual and surreal exploration of spirituality played out via a plot driven by music and conveyed through a poetic and sympathetic vision.
As with all of KieÅlowski’s films there is an intricacy to the layering of The Double Life of Veronique. Not just within the interplay between the real and the suggested, image and reflection, and in the union between its two main characters, but also through the spilt locations of Poland and France. For it is easy to perceive each character as a representation of the paths the two countries took after the Second World War.
Having long lingered in a cinematic no man’s land – the film was released on video tape some fifteen years ago and has only now found its way into a digital pressing – it seems more than appropriate that its appearance on DVD comes via the Criterion Collection. The beauty of this film is that you can either take it at face value or explore the many facets it has to offer and be equally rewarded. For not only is this metaphysical cinema at its best, it is also story telling at its most seductive.