The Double Life of Veronique (1991)
This film has an extremely intriguing plot that will leave the audience reeling with questions once the film ends. It is about two identical women, one who lives in Poland and the other in France. One day one of them dies and as the other woman feels a loss, even though she does not know what is happening. This film explores the “rich and shifting mysteries of coincidence, fate, and human connection.” (Elbert Ventura, allmovie.com)It is slightly confusing as it was not clear who was Veronique and who was Weronika in the beginning and that throws the audience off a bit as one may spend some time trying to figure out who is who. The ending, leaves one guessing and questioning. It can be deemed as a literature film as although Kieslowski said he had not put in any metaphors in his film however, quite a number of them can be interpreted as such.
The film also incorporates symbolism into the shots.
In one scene, when Weronika sees Veronique at Krakow square, she walks past a group of protesters, going the other way , this shows that she does not go along with the majority. This reflects Kieslowski, who was creative and had a mind of his own.
In the film, Weronika and Veronique are subjected to various authority figures from Weronika’s conductor, Alexandre the puppeteer and both the girls’ fathers. Irene Jacobs, the actress was under Kieslowski, the real-life authority figure. This makes both the actress and her characters strangely similar to the Veronique puppets seen at the end of the movie.
In the last scene, where Alexandre is showing Veronique the puppet of her, he had made two. While playing with one, they had left the other on the table, this is symbolic to the fact that Weronika has passed on and Vernonique is still alive.
The film generally uses warm,rich tones to give off a melodic vibe which puts the audience at ease despite the mysterious plot. The cinematographer Slawomir Idziak made use of camera and colour filter to create an ethereal atmospher., which helped to give the film a large sense of fantasy. As famous critc Roger Ebert said, “He uses a rich palette, including insistent reds and greens that don’t “stand” for anything but have the effect of underlining the other colors. The other color, blending with both, is golden yellow, and then there are the skin tones.” (rogerebert.com) If they had put colder tones, some audiences might not be able to sit through the entire movie as they would be very uneasy. The film itself is rather mysterious and if colder tones were used, it might become a horror film instead of a fantasy drama.
In 1991, France and Poland were not on great terms. By involving a Polish and a French who share this deep mysterious connection in this film, it put across the message that the two countries can be friends and be at peace. Film critic Marek Haltof speculates that the film is a “political allegory in which Weronika represents Poland and Véronique France, or the West: both are highly cultured, but while Véronique is seemingly free to choose her destiny, Weronika’s early death represents the sacrifice of Poland during the Second World War and its subsequent incorporation into the Soviet bloc; Véronique senses this loss without realizing what it is, and that she is incomplete without Weronika”. Maybe Keislowski wants to tell the world that even though they might not feel it, both countries need to depend on and help each other, or they would not be able to survive, and would lose a large part of themselves.
This is a thought provoking film that has no right or wrong answers, and no clear cut plot. One can speculate and guess what the movie is about, try to tie up all loose ends, but that would be useless. Keislowski meant this films to be something that is interpreted differently by different people, and in a way, this film reflects the mystery of life.
Sarah-Cae is a media and communications student in Singapore Polytechnic. When she isn’t spending precious time on school assignments, she can be found writing or star-gazing. She also cannot be expected to resign to maturity.
1. wikipedia. “Krzysztof Kieslowski”. 27 June 2013. web. 7 July 2013. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Krzysztof_Kie%C5%9Blowski>
2. Wikipedia. “The Double Life Of Veronique”. 23 June 2013. Web. 7 June 2013. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Double_Life_of_V%C3%A9ronique>
3. Elbert Ventura. All movie. “The Double Life Of Veronique”. web. 7 June 2013. <http://www.allmovie.com/movie/the-double-life-of-veronique-v14460/review>
4. Roger Ebert. “The Double Life of Veronique”. 25 February 2009. web. 7 July 2013. <http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/the-double-life-of-veronique-1991-1>
5. Caryn James. The New York Times.”The Double Life of Veronique: Film view, Veronique, it’s poetry lies in its key”. 8 December 1991. web. 7 July 2013. <http://movies.nytimes.com/movie/review?res=9D0CEFDD103DF93BA35751C1A967958260>