“Over a year before his death, Krzysztof Kieślowski agreed to the subject of a short documentary titled Krzysztof Kieślowski: I’m so-so, performed by his own longtime assistant Krzysztof Wierbicki. A feature-length documentary, made for Danish television, depicting Krzysztof Kieślowski’s recollections, his life and cinema, and some photographs while he was resting from retirement.
Initially, the film was intended to be just a trifling interview but ended up becoming one of the remarkable accounts of Krzysztof Kieślowski’s life. The theme stems from Krzysztof Kieślowski’s belief that people should not lie about their feelings, even in the case of polite dialogue. So when someone asked him how he was, instead of answering “well” or “very well”, he replied “I’m so so”.
Despite being named “normal” (so-so), in the end Krzysztof Kieślowski: I’m so-so becomes a remarkable film about an incredible director whose influential work has been in the works for the past two decades. This film will accompany the director’s entire career as an important guidebook.”
– Film critic and theorist James Berardinelli
Before officially leaving his career as a director in 1996 to take care of his family, Krzysztof Kieślowski embarked on a project about a trio of colors. Three Colors Triology. With the theme built on the three colors of the French national flag with the thoughts of freedom, equality and fraternity, the trilogy has nothing to do with political ideals. The three films are three everyday stories that take place in the context of contemporary society, a society under the cinematic eyes of the Polish director, which is gradually transforming after outstanding events in Europe in the early 2000s. 1990s.
A graduate of the prestigious Lodz film school, political influences in the midst of a volatile European society allowed him to focus all his energies on documentaries. From there, Krzysztof Kieślowski searches for a reality that is not and is not told on the screen when neglected or suppressed by the contemporary Polish government. With a calm voice, far from criticism, propaganda, or moral drama, Krzysztof Kieślowski is simply a narrator amid the political turmoil in society. The political turmoil and their impact on Krzysztof Kieślowski further satisfied him with the quality of the truth. He began to realize the limitations of the documentary form, failing to express the way he wanted to see the truth. Krzysztof Kieślowski turned to making fictional films, where he was liberated from the very barriers to freely use invisible and metaphysical materials.
When asked why he doesn’t like America, Krzysztof Kieślowski once frankly replied: “What I don’t like about America is the pursuit of an extremely empty talk and extreme complacency. If I asked my American manager how he felt, he would say very good (extremely well). Not is fine (okay) or just good (well) that it should be very goodt. I’m not human very good. If put in English, I’m normal (so-so).”
That is how Krzysztof Kieślowski stepped into the truth, expressed through metaphysical fiction, where ideals, dreams, intuition, cruelty or truth cannot be explained but can only be felt. The fragmentation of his consciousness persists through every frame of the film. Here he is the negotiator, very human between despair and hope. In Three Colors: Blue (1993), Krzysztof Kieślowski with the theme of freedom but not the social or political meaning that the colors of the French flag represent. It is a blue freedom of emotions and perception of each individual human being.
In the midst of a peaceful France, Julie must accept the death of her husband and daughter in a car accident in which she is the only survivor. The deliverance is always waiting but as fragile as it is meant to be, when Jukie tries to commit suicide at the hospital by taking an overdose but ends up unable to swallow the pills. Set in a grand setting (like how her husband Julie wrote a song praising the unification of Europe) but Blue deeper into the conscious fragmentation of chaos and individuality. Physical relationships seeking solace are shattered by the brutal truth. Since then, it has also broken Julie’s past links with songs written with her husband. It is a personal blue that seeks to find the freedom of human being without the dogma or politics and morality sought by Krzysztof Kieślowski.
In one scene, when Julie drops a lump of sugar into a cup of coffee that’s about to overflow, she refuses the man who loves her or here, she refuses all other men who want to “touch” her. The video shows a piece of music played on the flute by a street artist across the street. When Julie brought the sugar cube to the coffee cup, the angle was shifted from mid-ground to close-up to see the coffee seeping into the sugar in her hand before she dropped it into the coffee cup causing it to overflow.
Director Krzysztof Kieślowski once shared that it took him and his assistant half a day to experiment with sugars for this scene. This is simply a shot of a mass of sugar, which hits the surface of the coffee, absorbs the moisture and turns the coffee white to brown. It takes about five seconds or according to Krzysztof Kieślowski five seconds and thirty seconds for the sugar to absorb the moisture from the coffee and the lump to turn brown. A seemingly simple shot turned into a job seriously tested by the director when it came to timing. With a normal amount of sugar, it will take eight seconds, which is at least three seconds longer than originally intended. One should not linger too long on such a detail, says Krzysztof Kieślowski, it only takes five seconds and he has to prepare for it.
What’s the point of obsessing over the shot of a sugar cube hitting the surface of the coffee, absorbing just enough moisture to turn brown before being dropped and spilling the coffee? Krzysztof Kieślowski is in Julie’s world, and we are the ones looking at her and the man who loves her. This comes from Julie’s point of view, showing that she is observing, seeing and feeling the little things. By focusing on it with all her might, everything going on around her became unimportant. In those five seconds, Kulie was herself. She became a subject as fragile as sugar. This meaning opens her perspective on not accepting the truth, denying the truth and she really doesn’t care about the truth either. Here, everything around her life, before and now, about music, about life, about the man who loves her. She didn’t care and deliberately put the deepest part of her consciousness into the sugar cube and when it had absorbed enough coffee, she dropped it in a way that she didn’t accept and gave up.
The artist’s flute-played piece shows the fragmentation of Julie’s strong sense of the nature of truth. She rejected the man, dipped in sugar, watched it. Dropped sugar is a denial but the music doesn’t stop. The music here becomes a third character in the shot, reminding her of something she wants to forget and doesn’t want to carry on with anything. Fragmentation of visual and visual elements becomes strongly opposed to each other but at the same time parallel and inseparable. In the realistic beauty of the hearing and the inner complexity that the sight brings, Krzysztof Kieślowski presents a beauty deep in the human heart, a beauty that goes hand in hand with pain. The beauty of reality and the pain of the soul created a beautiful moment of Julie’s own aesthetic sensibility.
Then Julie approached the musician and she understood that different people, with different circumstances in the world, in a moment all had similar thoughts. This highlights the complex interior of Julie or here the interior of director Krzysztof Kieślowski. Through music or any other reason, different people think and associate with each other. It creates chaotic dispersion but at the same time becomes tightly linked together in just a moment with the very soft and delicate touch of the soul.
Krzysztof Kieślowski has always staunchly denied his critics or those who consider him a “moralist” and only accepts it superficially by shrugging his shoulders with the title “metaphysic”. He is not a creator of truth, pointing out the truth or promoting the truth. But through truth, under his vision of abstraction, using his ability to discover, he brought forth a truth that exists and is present for each person very differently.