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Synaesthesia in Kieslowski’s Trois couleurs: Bleu

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Studies of Kieslowski’s Trois couleurs: Bleu have so far failed to unite the intensely subjective nature of the film with the apparent universality of colour symbolism. This essay proposes a reading of the protagonist, Julie, as a synaesthete who associates colour and sound in a truly personal configuration. The piece traces the history of synaesthesia from nineteenth-century artistic visions to contemporary psychology, exploring the cultural and medical ramifications of the condition. This leads to an examination of synaesthesia as a manifestation of Julie’s physical injury, creativity, and social isolation. Synaesthesia attaches a powerful imagery to the deep emotions that leave her mute for so much of the film. Two recurring visual motifs are identified in Bleu: a blue rectangle and a nebulous, soft, blue shape. These are interpreted through the lens of synaesthesia to provide a new reading of the film, and a fresh approach to the questions of voyeurism surrounding this portrait of mourning.

Keywords: Kieslowski; Three Colours: Blue; Trois couleurs: Bleu; perception; senses; synaesthesia

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1386/sfci.5.2.7/1

Affiliations: University of Cambridge

Publication date: August 18, 2005

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  • Studies in French Cinema is the only journal published in English devoted exclusively to French cinema, providing scholars, teachers and students from around the world with a consistent quality of academic investigation across the full breadth of the subject. Contributors scrutinise the cultural context of various works and the diverse stylistic approaches that infuse the visual fabric of this genre.
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