Blind Chance
Kino // Unrated // $29.95 // August 17, 2004
Review by Carl Davis | posted September 28, 2004
Highly Recommended
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Krzysztof Kieslowski's Blind Chance (1987), is part of Kino Video's second wave of Kieslowski releases, featuring four of his early features for the first time on DVD. With The Scar, Kieslowski left behind a 10 year career in documentary films to focus on feature filmmaking. His later works (The Three Colors Trilogy), separated by the time Kieslowski spent working on The Decalogue, are viewed as less overtly political, and much more poetic explorations of the themes found in these early films. In 1996, Kieslowski died of complications from a heart attack at the age of 54.

In 1981, the Communist Party in Poland declared Martial Law. The censors, who already had Kieslowski in their sights, came down even harder on the acclaimed director. They banned a documentary he did for Polish TV, A Short Working Day (1981), and his next feature film, Blind Chance ended up being suppressed for almost 7 years before being released in 1987. Even though the films alternate storylines show three different outcomes for a Communist Poland, none of them are very positive.

Blind Chance is a movie about the tenuous relationship between choice, chance and Fate. Accordingly, its narrative is based on repetitionů the idea that if we could have just done one thing different, our lives would be for the better. Witek (Boguslaw Linda), a Polish medical student, has decided to put his studies on hold following the death of his father. Witek's responsible only for himself now and sees his future as an open book. As he runs to catch a train from Lodz to Warsaw, certain events will come to affect, not one, but three different outcomes for Witek's life.

One moment is all it takes to change a life. Kieslowski is implying that these chance encounters are happening in all of our lives every single day. When Witek catches the train he meets, and eventually befriends, a Communist Party official. Looking for direction in his life Witek becomes a Party member. Events soon reunite him with his first love, but she takes issue with his new political position. He becomes torn by his feelings for her and his life as an upstanding Party member.

Kieslowski then shows us what happens had Witek not caught his train, but instead knocks over a policeman on the platform. He is arrested for the assault, and must serve a short labor sentence. There he meets people assosicated with a group of revolutionaries. Witek joins their cause and meets an old friend. He falls in love with his friend's sister, but a wedge is driven between them when the friend accuses Witek of caring more for his sister than for the cause.

Finally, Kieslowski shows Witek missing the train entirely. However, it's not a total loss, as he recognizes a woman from his school at the station. The two take the time to talk and a relationship soon develops. They eventually marry and Witek completes his medical training and becomes a Doctor. Despite these different lives, there are always constants present. Whether it's a ticket to France, or a relationship with a woman, Kieslowski shows that Fate is present in our lives, no matter how much free will we think we have.

The DVD:

Picture: The movie is presented in an anamorphic widescreen 1.85:1 aspect ratio. The image quality is crisp and clear, with just a little bit of noticeable grain.

Audio: There is a 2.0 Dolby Digital Mono track in the Original Polish, which sounds fine.

Extras: The DVD Extras include interviews with film scholar Annette Insdorf, former Polish film censor Irena Strazakowska and filmmaker Agnieska Holland, a short film by one of Kieslowski's colleagues at the Documentary Film School, Marcel Lozinski, titled "Workshop Exercises" (1986), a complete Kieslowski Filmography and a Kieslowski Trailer Gallery featuring 6 trailers, including the theatrical trailer for Blind Chance.

Conclusion: Kieslowski stressed that Blind Chance wasn't a political film, but rather one about making choices. Implying that it is our actions in this life which determine the kind of person we are. As long as a man remains true to himself, regardless of his circumstances, he can adapt to any situation, rise to any occasion and, hopefully, make a difference while he's there. Perhaps it was this underlying message about an individuals worth in the bigger picture that incensed the Communists in the first place?

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