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SPECIFICATIONS
  • 1.66:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • French DTS-HD 2.0 Surround
  • English subtitles
  • 1 Disc
FEATURES
  • Audio commentary by Annette Insdorf, author of Double Lives, Second Chances: The Cinema of Krzysztof Kieslowski
  • Three short documentary films by Kieslowski: Factory (1970), Hospital (1976), and Railway Station (1980)
  • The Musicians (1958), a short film by Kieslowski's teacher Kazimierz Karabasz
  • Kieslowski�Dialogue (1991), a documentary featuring a candid interview with Kieslowski and rare behind-the-scenes footage from the set of The Double Life of Veronique
  • 1966-1988: Kieslowski, Polish Filmmaker, a 2005 documentary tracing the filmmaker's work in Poland, from his days as a student through The Double Life of Veronique
  • A 2005 interview with actress Irene Jacob
  • New video interviews with cinematographer Slawomir Idziak and composer Zbigniew Preisner

The Double Life of Veronique

Blu-ray
Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By: Krzysztof Kieslowski
Starring: , Philippe Volter, Sandrine Dumas, Halina Gryglaszewka, Wladyslaw Kowalski, Jerzy Gudejko, Claude Duneton
1991 | 97 Minutes | Licensor: Image Entertainment

Release Information
Blu-ray | MSRP: $39.95 | Series: The Criterion Collection | Edition: #359
RLJ Entertainment

Release Date: February 1, 2011
Review Date: March 6, 2011

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SYNOPSIS

Krzysztof Kieslowski's international breakthrough remains one of his most beloved films, a ravishing, mysterious rumination on identity, love, and human intuition. Irne Jacob is incandescent as both Weronika, a Polish choir soprano, and her double, Vronique, a French music teacher. Though unknown to each other, the two women share an enigmatic, purely emotional bond, which Kieslowski details in gorgeous reflections, colors, and movements. Aided by Slawomir Idziak's shimmering cinematography and Zbigniew Preisner's haunting, operatic score, Kieslowski creates one of cinema's most purely metaphysical works. The Double Life of Veronique is an unforgettable symphony of feeling.

Forum members rate this film 8.7/10

 

Discuss the film and Blu-ray here   


PICTURE

Krzysztof Kieslowskis The Double Life of Veronique comes to Blu-ray from Criterion, presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.66:1 on this dual-layer disc in a 1080p/24hz high-def transfer.

The film certainly looks lovely on Blu-ray, though I feel it suffers from a few minor problems. The film is very grainy and it doesnt always look genuine to me, resembling something closer to compression artifacts and noise. Every other aspect of the transfer looks beautiful on the other hand, with strong definition and detail, and bright, absolutely gorgeous colours, which are primarily limited to yellows, greens, and reds, all of which are rendered perfectly. Blacks also look deep and details do not get lost in darker scenes.

The print has a few minor specs and I noticed a couple of hairs on the edges, but its in stunning shape, similar to Criterions DVD edition of the film (Im actually pretty sure the same high-def transfer was used here but cant say for sure.)

Theres a lot jammed on this disc leaving less room for the film, which may be the reason for the minor weaknesses in the transfer, but in all its still a very pleasing and gorgeous looking presentation that does still improve significantly over the DVDs image.

8/10

All Blu-ray screen captures come from the source disc and have been shrunk from 1920x1080 to 900x506 and slightly compressed to conserve space. While they are not exact representations they should offer a general idea of overall video quality.

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AUDIO

Though only stereo in nature the 2.0 DTS-HD MA audio track presented here is absolutely fantastic. The track presents no damage or problems, and dialogue sounds crisp and clear. Music sounds just incredible, especially the concert scene, and the track overall is very dynamic, crystal clear, and pure. It sounds fantastic and this area is easily the biggest upgrade over the previous DVD edition.

8/10

SUPPLEMENTS

Criterion ports over all of the disc supplements from the 2-disc edition, though, as Im sure most already know, the large booklet didnt completely make it.

In all honesty Ive always been fairly disappointed with the supplements found on the DVD and revisiting them on Blu-ray hasnt changed my mind much. The first feature is an audio commentary by film scholar Annette Insdorf, the same one found on the DVD. I had a mixed reaction to this track, finding her comments generally insightful and engaging but other times frustrating. Along with covering the general production and Kieslowskis film career she does spend a lot of time trying to explain the film, examining its complex visuals and then relating certain elements to Kieslowskis life to put things in some sort of context. As I said some of her comments are good and they do offer an interesting perspective and do make sense for the most part, focusing on the themes of chance and fate, but sometimes I guess I feel shes beating around the bush and maybe trying too hard to put some sense to the film. I guess I enjoyed it overall, even if she can drone on in places, but, on a top of a somewhat droning voice, I maybe I just felt something got lost in the film after listening to it.

Following this is the alternate U.S. Ending, mentioned in the commentary by Insdorf, filmed by Kieslowski at the request of the Weinsteins (the film was release by Miramax in the States,) hoping to give the film more of an upbeat (?) or conclusive ending (I guess.) It resembles the original ending but tacks on an added moment that really seems odd in all honesty. It lasts over 5-minutes, but theres less than a minute of alternate material (the segment even includes the entire end credits, which is completely unnecessary.) Its a curiosity and nothing more really. It also looks to be taken from a home video release as its in terrible condition, presented in full screen, and just has this general slightly-better-than-VHS look to it.

The next section presents a collection of short films. Surprisingly not all of them are Kieslowskis films; the first film, The Musicians is by Kazimierz Karabasz, a teacher of Kieslowskis who was also an inspiration. The film follows a group of blue collar workers who get together and rehearse as a band. The camera just hovers around the group, focusing on preparations and the camaraderie between the members. The editing, which can be seen in Kieslowskis work, is sharp and quick and the mix of images really conveys everything you need to know with very little dialogue. The film runs 10-minutes.

Criterion the presents 3 of Kieslowskis short documentaries next. The first is the 18-minute Factory and its not what I expected. I think I was expecting some sort of propaganda film showcasing the factory labourer, but its not really that at all. It actually only focuses a bit of time on the factory floor, instead devoting all of its attention to the bureaucrats who work in the offices. The film was shot during a meeting and Im not entirely sure what theyre discussing, but I am guessing its about concerns over a delayed project and the issues stemming from it, including with the government. Hospital is a 21-minute documentary short following the going-ons in a hospital (natch!) over the course of a day, catching a few interesting cases and surgeries along the way. Surprisingly the final one, the 13-minute Railway Station, comes off the most sinister as it documents the general happenings at a railway station, specifically the confrontations between customers and workers at the stations, along with pointing out the eye in the sky (security cameras) scattered all over the station.

Following these is possibly the most disappointing feature on this disc (for me at least,) the 52-minute documentary KieslowskiDialogue , a rather ponderous piece that looks at Kieslowskis career and The Double Life of Veronique, featuring an extensive interview with Kieslowski. Kieslowski does talk about his career which includes his move from documentary work to fiction films, and discusses his style. We also get brief interviews with others about his work and working with him. Unfortunately Im almost positive half of the documentary is made up of clips from the film, and though theyre placed there mostly to point out techniques, the clips go on a long time and become tiring. Its great to get interviews with the director but Id really recommend fast forwarding through parts of it.

Much better is the next documentary, the 31-minute 1968-1988: Kieslowski Polish Filmmaker, which looks at Kieslowskis documentary films during this period and political situations that possibly influenced them, leading all the way up to his work in feature fiction films. I enjoyed this one a lot more and felt it offered a better analysis of Kieslowskis film career and work.

After this we get a collection of interviews starting with 24-minute one with cinematographer Slawomir Idziak, who first covers why he got into the film business (at the time it was one of the few careers that allowed you to leave the country), meeting Kieslowski, and then talks a bit about Double Life, shooting it, and expands on some other things mentioned elsewhere on the set (like how Andie MacDowell was the first choice for the main role) and then mentions an idea that was thrown around: to shoot a few different endings that would differ depending on which theater the film was being viewed in (similar to the 80s comedy Clue by the sounds of it.)

Composer Zbigniew Preisner next talks about the director and the process of creating the score for the film, which was hard since Kieslowski apparently had no musical sense at all, saying that the director would sing Jingle Bells and have it sound like Silent Night. Despite this something obviously clicked because the use of music with the images in the film is one of its most striking elements.

The final interview is then with actor Irene Jacob, filmed in 2005 and still looking stunning. For 17-minutes she gets into detail about coming to meet Kieslowski and how she got the role. She also talks about how it was to work with director, who was always open to suggestions. She talks about the script and its release, and pretty much confirms that there was plenty of material cut out, and that the film was originally conceived quite a bit differently. Overall a charming interview and probably the best of them.

For their original DVD edition Criterion included a 60-page booklet, which called for a bulkier digipak release. For this Blu-ray, though, Criterion has chosen to cut the booklet down to fit it in one of their standard Blu-ray cases. The booklet is now about 40-pages. It still includes an essay on the film by critic Jonathan Romney on the film, and then includes excerpts about this film from Kieslowskis book. Over 20-pages it looks to all have made it from the previous booklet. Missing is an essay by Slavo Zizek and then another by Peter Cowie. This is disappointing but Criterion has at least made the essays available online at Criterions site.

Overall I was a little disappointed by the supplements. Insdorfs commentary offers a decent scholarly analysis, though it may be her style, which can be lethargic, being what somewhat turned me off of it. I was very disappointed with the longer doc on the film, which spent more time on clips from the feature film instead of focusing on the director. The shorts are a great addition, as is Jacobs interview, and these, along with the short doc on Kieslowskis transition to feature fiction films, are the strongest supplements on the disc.

7/10

CLOSING

Some minor problems in the actual digital transfer but the film still manages to come off looking beautiful. The supplements are a little disappointing, but based on the image and sound alone the Blu-ray is worth picking up or upgrading to.


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