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The Criterion Collection
Running Time: 97 Minutes
Starring: Iréne Jacob, Philippe Volter, Sandrine Dumas, Halina Gryglaszewka, Wladyslaw Kowalski, Jerzy Gudejko, Claude Duneton
Written by: Krzysztof Kieślowski and Krzysztof Piesiewicz
Directed by: Krzysztof Kieślowski
Retail Price: $39.95
Features: Audio Commentary with Annette Insdorf, Documentaries, The Musician Short, U.S. Ending, Kieślowski—Dialogue, 1966-1988: Kieślowski, Polish Filmmaker, Video Interviews
Specs: 1.66:1 Widescreen 1080p High Definition, Polish/French 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio, English Subtitles, Chapters (21 Chapters)
Released: February 1st, 2011
First up is an Audio Commentary with Annette Insdorf, the author of the book Doubke Lives, Second Chances: The Cinema of Krzysztof Kieślowski. Insdorf has a soothing voice, and while she may be a bit dry, she certainly knows a ton about the movie and has a lot of intriguing thoughts to offer. Insdorf goes into great detail about the movie's lush imagery, the actors, the characters and most of all, the themes of the story and instincts of the characters. Insdorf nicely incorporates some background material on Poland to give the film some further context, and she discusses the film's U.S. ending (more on that in a moment). Sometimes she does narrate the action of what's on the screen, but this is a thoughtful primer on the film. Those serious about studying Kieślowski should certainly give this track a listen.
Included for viewing is the infamous U.S. Ending that Harvey Weinstein insist that Kieślowski make, who complied. It's a nice inclusion solely for the basis of comparison. The ending is in full screen, and the quality is so-so. But given what this is, how it looks should not really matter.
Under the Short Films section, there are three documentary shorts that Kieślowski made: Factory, Hospital and Railway Station — which are all must watches for fans of the filmmaker. An excellent bonus inclusion is of the short The Musicians, which was made by Kazimierz Karabasz Kieślowski's teacher at the Lodz Film School.
Kieślowski — Dialogue is a near 53 minute documentary on the making of The Double Life of Veroniqué. Shot on video and presented in Polish with English subtitles, this is a terrific look at the creation of the film and Kieślowski's filmmaking process. We see behind-the-scenes footage, but there's quite a lot of chatter from the man who himself. In it, he touches upon themes, but we also see him through casting, writing and editing. Certainly a must see.
Another wonderful inclusion is Luc Lagier's 30 minute documentary 1966-1988: Kieślowski, Polish Filmmaker. This is an excellent piece of work that focues on the political era of when Kieślowski came of age, his documentary work and narrative films during the time period. This is a very concise and informative piece of work.
Rounding out the disc-based supplements are three Video Interviews with Kieślowski's collaborators: cinematographer Stawomir Idizak (24 minutes), composer Zbigniew Presiner (21 minutes) and actress Iréne Jacob (approximately 17 minutes). All three talk about working with him, and the unique circumstances that influenced them all — namely Presiner and Idizak, who had a rich history with the filmmaker that tied into what was going on in Poland when they came up as artists. Jacob — who broke out with Veroniqué — mostly focuses her anecdotes about that film and getting cast. All three come off as interesting and intelligent, with plenty to say. The quality is full HD, to boot.
Finally, inside the package is a lovely booklet, with an insightful essay by critic Jonathan Romney and selections from Kieślowski on Kieślowski.