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The Double Life of Veronique(1991)
Story of the separate destinies of two young women, one French, the other Polish, who look alike and share the same character traits.
For more about The Double Life of Veronique and The Double Life of Veronique Blu-ray release, see The Double Life of Veronique Blu-ray Review
Starring: Irène Jacob, Halina Gryglaszewska, Kalina Jedrusik, Aleksander Bardini, Wladyslaw Kowalski, Jerzy Gudejko
Director: Krzysztof Kieslowski
» See full cast & crew
The Double Life of Veronique Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, March 20, 2010
Winner of Best Actress award at the Cannes Film Festival, Krzysztof Kieslowski's "La double vie de Véronique" a.k.a "The Double Life of Veronique" (1991) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of British distributors Artificial Eye. The supplemental features on the disc include "Conversation with Kieslowski"; an interview with Irene Jacob; the French documentary "Kieslowski, Polish Filmmaker"; four short films -- "The Musicians" (1958), "Factory" (1970), "Hospital" (1976), and "Railway Station" (1980). In Polish and French, with optional English subtitles. Region-Free.
I saw Krzysztof Kieslowski's The Double Life of Veronique at a time when a lot in my life did not make sense. I was living on the other side of the Iron Curtain and had many questions that no one was willing to answer. I was incredibly frustrated and like Weronika, one of the two young women whose stories Kieslowski's film tells, the only thing that kept me sane was music.
My initial reactions to the film were mixed. I did not understand it, which is why I kept reading different articles from foreign critics that apparently explained everything that happens in it in detail. The more I read, however, the more things did not make sense to me. Eventually, I gave up on the film.
Everything came together much later on. I believe it was right around the same time when I saw the last installment in Kieslowski's Trois Couleurs. It was one of those strange moments when you suddenly realize that the answer to a mystery that you have been trying to solve for years had been right in front of you, yet you missed it, time after time. I suddenly saw my answer, the one that I should have had the very same night when I left the old Soviet-style movie theater where The Double Life of Veronique was screened, but did not because I was expecting to see the same film other people had - most of them living in a world that I knew very little about.
The Double Life of Veronique tells the stories of two young women, Weronika and Veronique, both played by French actress Irene Jacob. One lives in Poland, the other in France. Both are passionate about music, love and life. Both have weak hearts. They never meet in the film, though Weronika sees Veronique from afar during a street protest in Poland. At times, they feel each other's presence, but don't know how to react to the feeling.
Weronika is a terrific singer who has never been taught how to sing. She wins an important recital audition and in a short period of time her life completely changes. She begins dreaming beautiful dreams and falls in love. Then on the night of the recital, she collapses on the stage and dies.
Veronique is also a singer, but throughout the film we never see her singing. Her life is a lot more satisfying than that of Weronika. She also dreams and loves - but her world is brighter and warmer than that of Weronika. At the end of the film, Veronique's life also completely changes, but she lives.
Halfway through The Double Life of Veronique, there is an intriguing game of sorts where a skillful puppeteer captures Veronique's imagination, and consequently challenges her to find him. There are a number of clues that she gets in the mail about his location, but as is everything else in the film, they are simply clues to something a lot bigger.
Unlike what many people in the West believe, The Double Life of Veronique is not about a mystery, and it is not about the two women whose lives it follows closely. Rather, it is about the worlds they belong to - one full of hope and life, the other gloomy and cold. Kieslowski lived on both sides of the Iron Curtain and saw what many could not, or did not want to. This is why in his film Weronika dies and Veronique lives.
In 1991, The Double Life of Veronique won the Best Actress award (Irene Jacob), the FIPRESCI Prize, and the Prize of the Ecumenical Jury at the Cannes Film Festival. In 1992, the film won the Critics Award for Best Foreign Language Film granted by the French Syndicate of Cinema Critics.
The Double Life of Veronique Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.64:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, Krzysztof Kieslowski's The Double Life of Veronique arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of British distributors Artificial Eye.
This is a striking high-definition transfer! I am sure there would be a few people that would disagree with me and find something to criticize about it, but as far as I am concerned, The Double Life of Veronique has never looked this good before.
Cinematographer Slawomir Idziak's unique use of colors is what impressed me the most - the warm greens, yellows, reds and browns that overflow in The Double Life of Veronique are incredibly beautiful, at times simply impossible to describe with simple words. Fine object detail and clarity are terrific. Edge-enhancement and macroblocking are never a serious issue of concern. Neither is digital noise. Additionally, when blown through a digital projector, The Double Life of Veronique looks tight, natural and notably vibrant. I did not detect any traces of excessive filtering either. There are a couple of scenes where I noticed that a few minor corrections have been made, but overall this is a wonderful transfer, one that should please even the most critical amongst you. Finally, I did not detect any disturbing flecks, scratches, cuts, stains, or debris to report in this review. (Note: This is a Region-Free Blu-ray disc. Therefore, you will be able to play it on your PS3 or SA regardless of your geographical location. Please note that there is no PAL or 1080/50i content preceding the disc's main menu).
The Double Life of Veronique Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There is only one audio track on this Blu-ray disc: French/Polish DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. For the record, Artificial Eye have provided optional English subtitles for the main feature.
The audio treatment is as impressive as the video treatment. Zbigniew Preisner's wonderful music score truly comes alive here - the depth, improved fidelity and nuanced dynamics of the loseless audio track allow for an entirely new experience, one that SDVD releases of The Double Life of Veronique simply have not been able to offer.
The surround channels are not overly active, but are certainly very effective. For example, the scene where Weronika collapses on the stage has a lot more scattered tiny noises that I was never able to pick up on my MK2 SDVD. The hall effect as well as the choir are also a lot more prominent. Finally, the dialog is a lot clearer and easier to follow.
The Double Life of Veronique Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Note: All of the supplemental features on this Blu-ray disc are encoded in 720p. Therefore, they are perfectly playable on Region-A PS3s and SAs.
Conversation with Kieslowski - a long and very informative featurette in which the Polish director talks about his films, the type of conflicts they address, their characters, what separates and unites people, politics, religion, etc. Kieslowski also discusses the two heroines in The Double Life of Veronique, the type of atmosphere he wanted to create in the film, the importance of music in it, etc. In Polish and French, with optional English subtitles. (55 min).
Interview with Irene Jacob - the French actress recalls her first encounter with director Kieslowski, her work on The Double Life of Veronique, its unusual story, etc. In French, with optional English subtitles. (18 min).
Kieslowski, Polish Filmmaker - a wonderful summation of Kieslowski's career as a filmmaker. In French, with optional English subtitles. (32 min).
Short Films - the four films Artificial Eye have included have previously appeared on SDVD.
-- The Musicians (1958). Directed by Kazimierz Karabasz, a Polish documentary maker in the late 1050s, who taught director Kieslowski at The Lodz Film School in the 1960s. In Polish, with optional English subtitles. (11 min).
-- Factory (1970). Director Kieslowski shot this short film shortly after he graduated from The Lodz Film School in 1970. This was also one of the director's first professional films. The story of the film revolves around a group of disillusioned workers in a steel factory. In Polish, with optional English subtitles. (19 min).
-- Hospital (1976). One of the last documentary films director Kieslowski made for WFD before he focused on fiction films. The film follows a group of frustrated doctors as they struggle to perform their duties. In Polish, with optional English subtitles. (22 min).
-- Railway Station (1980). A unique look at a busy railway station where people are observed by a big camera. In Polish, with optional English subtitles. (14 min).
The Double Life of Veronique Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
I am very impressed with British distributors Artificial Eye's Blu-ray release of Krzysztof Kieslowski's sublime The Double Life of Veronique. Without a doubt, this is prime candidate for a Blu-ray release of the year. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
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