The Film (4/5)
Krzysztof Kieslowski is a director whose work I've only gotten into within the last 5 years or so, and it has become some of my favorite work I've seen in that time. His work seemed to dwell on the interconnectedness of life, of people and events, and of how the smallest things can have an affect on the overall whole. This is true of his later works like the Double Life of Veronique, and his Three Colors Trilogy, and it is most certainly true of his wave making 1981 film Blind Chance.
Blind Chance follows a Polish Medical school dropout named Witek across the same scenario 3 separate times. Each scenario opens at a train station, where Witek is late for a train, and ends with a flight to Paris. In the first scenario he catches the train, and meets an old friend, who is deeply ingrained in the Polish Communist Party, and helps him become a member, and get his career settled. However, he quickly becomes disillusioned by the corruption inherent in the party, and gets caught between his job, and his girlfriend an anti-party radical. The second scenario sees him miss the train, run physically into a station officer, and get arrested, this leads him to not join the communist, but the underground revolutionaries opposing them. The third scenario sees him also miss the train, but not run into the cop. In this scenario he meets a former lover, and is inspired to go back to medical School, his career becomes an apparent success, but is drawn into the politics of the time, when his med school dean is called to defend his anti-Communist activist son, and now must take a flight to Paris in the place of the dean to give a lecture in Libya.
Like his later works Blind Chance is an extremely powerful film from the director. This one by its very nature is much more political than his later works. Blind Chance was filmed in 1981, but banned until 1987, and released in a heavily censored form that cut out a lot of details that were insulting to the Communist Party that ruled Poland at the time. The version Criterion are releasing are as close to uncut as the film can get, and aside from a minor snippet of apparent police brutality at the beginning of scenario 2, the entire film is seen here. If there is any statement to be made in the film, it comes across in scenario 3 where Witek who is trying to remain neutral, and not get involved with either the revolutionaries or the Communist is forced to choose a side. This is sort of Kieslowski saying in scenarios as deep-rooted, and far reaching as this there is no remaining neutral.
All 3 of the film's scenarios have certain overlapping elements and imagery, but this does nothing, but strengthen Kieslowski's viewpoint of how connected our worlds actually are, and how easy it is to find ourselves in a different place from where we are. The film flows from one segment to the other, without ever seeming boring, and the imagery just seems to get more powerful with each segment. The performances across the board offer a natural, lived in quality, that feel like a group of people that have dwelled their entire lives in this environment, and are still trying to navigate their way in this socio-political labyrinth.
Blind Chance has been presented in a 1:72:1 1080p MPEG-4 AVC encoded transfer. The film has a very cold, natural look to it, and the Blu-ray transfer reproduces it effectively. There is excellent fine detail, solid blacks, and a nice healthy grain structure throughout. There are a few instances of damage, and image fluctuation throughout, but nothing that detracts from the overall quality.
The audio has been presented in an LPCM 1.0 track in English The dialogue and score are audible throughout, and I did not detect any issues.
Criterion have put together a small, but solid package for their release of Blind Chance. The Blu-ray includes an interview with Tadeusz Sobolewski a Polish film critic who goes into detail in regards to the film, it's background, and it's socio-political implications. We also get an interview with Agnieszka Holland who discusses her viewing of a rough cut of the film. We also get a featurette displaying the content that was cut from the film , and a leaflet with liner notes.
Blind Chance is a film that displays the themes, and visual motifs of Kieslowski in a very early, raw form. The Blu-ray looks and sounds beautiful, the extras are slim, but offer a nice insight to the film. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.