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The Double Life of Véronique
The Criterion Collection
(Blu-ray)

review by Zach B.

 

 

Not Rated

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

 

 

Studio: Criterion

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







The Double Life of Veroniqué is presented in a 1080p High Definition transfer, with the aspect ratio of 1.66:1 — which results in some slight windowboxing. This gorgeously shot film — courtesy of cinematographer Slawomir Idziak — looks stunning on Blu-ray. Fleshtones look flawless, detail is superb and the amount of grain on the transfer seems pitch-perfect. Best of all is the vibrant color saturation, which is full, deep and never smears. The transfer keeps up with the various hues, be it the golden oranges or neon greens that light and illuminate the scenes. The print used for this transfer is rather sparkling, with only a few imperfections. If there's a selling point to the Blu-ray over the previously released DVD, than this is it. I have a good feeling that Kieślowski would be quite pleased with how his movie looks on this disc. 

 


The Double Life of Veroniqué features a DTS-HD Master Audio track in stereo, featuring the Polish and French languages. Fidelity is quite high, but as expected, dynamics are a limited by the two channels. Who knows what a remix would have brought, but there still is some punch to be had with this track. Most notable are the heavenly compositions from Zbigniew Presiner, which have plenty of life to involve the viewer of the film. The soprano vocals that are sung over the opening credits certainly get your attention, and are an indicator of what's to come. Dialogue is clear and easy to hear, as I did not detect any hisses or vocal distortions. Sound effects — be it a thunderstorm or vehicles passing — sound decent, but don't do too much otherwise. In all, very fine for what this is.

English subtitles are included.

 


This Blu-ray edition of The Double life of Véronique is a straight-up port of the 2006 Criterion DVD release, which is a excellent thing.

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.

 


The Double Life of Veroniqué is a sublime film, and one of the high points of legendary filmmaker's Krzysztof Kieślowski's career. This Blu-ray edition of the film is a direct port of Criterion's 2006 DVD release, which means all of those phenomenal supplements that illuminate the film and life of the filmmaker are here. For those who own that edition and are lovers of the film, then I'd say the Blu-ray is worth getting, namely for its stunning transfer. Fans of the film and Kieślowski in general who never picked up that previous release should have no qualms getting this version.