Magazine article American Cinematographer

The Double Life of Véronique

Magazine article American Cinematographer

The Double Life of Véronique

Article excerpt

The Double Life of Véronique (1991)

1.66:1 (16x9 Enhanced)

Dolby Digital 2.0

The Criterion Collection, $39.95

The Criterion Collection continues its tradition of excellence with this edition of Krzysztof Kieslowski's The Double Life of Véronique, a disc that will please the director's fans and serve as a fine introduction to his work for the uninitiated. A pristine transfer, an insightful commentary track, and multiple documentaries and interviews make this a worthwhile purchase, and the inclusion of rare Kieslowski short films makes it essential.

Double Life tells the story of two women, Polish singer Veronika and French music teacher Véronique (both played by Irene Jacob), who are identical in appearance and share a psychic bond, in spite of the fact that they've never met. Both women are searching for emotional fulfillment, and cinematographer Slawomir Idziak, PSC (Three Colors: Blue) visualizes this quest through poetic images that express the theme of doubling. The movie explores the physical and spiritual connections that link human beings to one another, and the filmmakers treat this premise with an intimacy that makes it powerful rather than pretentious.

Idziak and Kieslowski established a visual plan for the film as the screenplay was being written, creating a series of visual motifs that allow the story to unfold more through images than plot or dialogue. From the opening POV shot of an upside-down Polish street, the film invites the viewer to become an active participant in the narrative.

Double Life's impact is due to its careful calibration of light, color and sound design, and this delicate balance has been impeccably preserved on this transfer. The Dolby Digital 2.0 sound mix reveals remarkable nuances not only in Zbigniew Preisner's score but also in the sound effects. Idziak's palette is also vibrant and subtle in equal measures, and the cinematographer discusses his approach to the film in a 25-minute featurette produced for this DVD. …

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