The Double Life of Veronique


1h 30m 1991

Brief Synopsis

Story of the separate destinies of two young women, one French, the other Polish, who look alike and share the same character traits.

Film Details

Also Known As
Double Life of Veronique, Podwójne zycie Weroniki, Veronikas dubbelliv, double vie de Véronique
MPAA Rating
Genre
Drama
Fantasy
Foreign
Release Date
1991
Production Company
StudioCanal
Distribution Company
MIRAMAX; Alternative Films; Cinemien; Filmcoopi Zurich Ag; Finnkino Oy; Gala Film Distributors Ltd; MIRAMAX; Mikado Film; Miramax Home Entertainment; Norsk Filmdistribusjon; Sandrew Metronome Filmdistribution As; Tartan Video
Location
Clermont-Ferrand, France; Crakovia, Poland; Lodz, Poland; Paris, France

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 30m

Synopsis

Story of the separate destinies of two young women, one French, the other Polish, who look alike and share the same character traits.

Film Details

Also Known As
Double Life of Veronique, Podwójne zycie Weroniki, Veronikas dubbelliv, double vie de Véronique
MPAA Rating
Genre
Drama
Fantasy
Foreign
Release Date
1991
Production Company
StudioCanal
Distribution Company
MIRAMAX; Alternative Films; Cinemien; Filmcoopi Zurich Ag; Finnkino Oy; Gala Film Distributors Ltd; MIRAMAX; Mikado Film; Miramax Home Entertainment; Norsk Filmdistribusjon; Sandrew Metronome Filmdistribution As; Tartan Video
Location
Clermont-Ferrand, France; Crakovia, Poland; Lodz, Poland; Paris, France

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 30m

Articles

Double Life of Veronique, The - Krzysztof Kieslowski's THE DOUBLE LIFE OF VERONIQUE on DVD


It's a rare film that is so electrifying and emotionally philosophical an experience that it installs a vivid memory in viewers of where they were when they saw it, and what state their life was in at the time. Not to mention, a mysterious sense of how their lives might be seen and felt differently thereafter. It doesn't happen very much anymore, but Krzysztof Kieslowski's The Double Life of Veronique had just such an impact on most nearly everyone who saw it – ask a filmgoer who was there in the theaters in 1991, and you'll hear a gasp of transcendental remembrance, as if Kieslowski's film was a metaphysical ordeal, in addition to being something of a funeral song for the European art film we'd let dazzle us since the '60s of Antonioni, Bergman and Godard. It was, and is, all of these things. Certainly, filmmakers in recent years rarely take on the sort of poetic ambiguities and formal dreamwork Kieslowski did, and those that have (Alexander Sokurov, Abbas Kiarostami, Bela Tarr) have been sketchily distributed here at best.

What did Kieslowski do that was so epochal? It's hard to articulate, but it has everything to do with his worshipful attention to dewy star Irene Jacob, to the the opalescent, world-through-a-teardrop cinematography of Slawomir Idziak, and to the fundamentally enigmatic tale co-written, as were all of Kieslowski's important films, by Krzysztof Piesiewicz. In a way, the story is quantum, constructed from both waves and particles, and subject to the Heisenberg principle: two women, one a choir soprano in Poland, the other a music teacher in France, both played by Jacob, coexist simultaneously but are unaware of each other. They cross paths for a glancing moment (on a bus tour in Krakow); Polish maiden Weronika glimpses her doppelganger, but the French Veronique does not. An upset in an unseen astral balance is apparently been created, because thereafter Weronika dies (in mid-recital) of heart failure. Across Europe – across the same ideological and cultural lines that have separated the continent for most of the 20th century – the reverbs hit Veronique, who in wrestling with the mundanities of her life now feels as if a connection she'd felt to the universe has been severed, leaving her for the first time truly alone...

How do you film inner disconnectedness, or spiritual awakening? Don't ask, just watch. There's no possible way to beg for more concrete conclusions from this magnificent movie's scenario than Kieslowski wants to give you; you either enter into this languid world of sensual reverence, global ghostliness and neverending questions, or you leave the room. Are the two woman in fact the same, an otherwordly bifurcation discovered by chance – implying a secret government of spiritual tissue beneath the surface of life? Or is it coincidence, which itself becomes a metaphor for the story of a life, for time, for the role luck plays in the supposed significance of our lives? Speaking of metaphors, what about fate, self, identity, European history, feminist connectiveness, the alienating structures of modern society, and, why not, the Meaning of Life?

Yes, yes, yes, and yes. But not, interestingly enough, Freudian psychology – this is one doppelganger whose tangible existence outside of her "host" is never questioned, and who does not reflect any sort of id-ego split, or indeed any sort of trauma at all. Kieslowski would've shrugged off such a psychoanalytic formulation as reductive – why should the movie deal with the mental troubles of a single woman, when it can effortlessly suggest interrogations about the nature of existence and self-knowledge? Veronique is nothing if not all-encompassing, large-hearted, passionately viewing the world through the perspective of Jacob's generous gamine, as a kaleidoscopic romance between light, shadow, flesh, crystal, doom and rebirth. For all of its Sturm und Drang (most of it emanating in shivery gouts from Zbigniew Preisner's apocalyptic score), Kieslowski's is a sweet, achingly optimistic film. Jacob, Kieslowski and the film won awards all over the map, most overwhelmingly at Cannes, where jaded festival goers stumbled out of the theater as if they'd been privy to a divine vision. In the end, Veronique is more of an experience than a dissectable text, which leaves it wide open to be lambasted, as merely visceral or sensual. But in 15 years I haven't encountered a single skeptical evaluation, outside of a single cavil about Kieslowski undressing his gorgeous young actress too often. (Too often for what?) It does seem that the movie cannot be gainsaid anymore than it can be broken down into symbols, like a Bach fugue or a Vermeer painting. "Nothing worth knowing," Woody Allen told Diane Keaton in Manhattan, "can be understood with the mind. Anything really valuable has to enter you from a different opening, if you'll forgive the disgusting imagery." Well, in cinephile lingo, particular movies are sometimes defined this way, as "pure cinema" – explosions of imagery that is its own means and end. Veronique is a formidable example, of an art-knowledge you acquire by purely physical means, with your eyes and your ears.

The new Criterion package is customarily tricked out with historical treats, including three Kieslowski shorts, the extra U.S. ending mandated by Miramax muttonhead Harvey Weinstein (which is only slightly less puzzling than Kieslowski's original), two feature documentaries, new interviews with Idziak, Preisner and Jacob, and original essays by critics Jonathan Romney and Peter Cowie.

For more information about The Double Life of Veronique, visit The Criterion Collection. To order The Double Life of Veronique, go to TCM Shopping.

by Michael Atkinson
Double Life Of Veronique, The - Krzysztof Kieslowski's The Double Life Of Veronique On Dvd

Double Life of Veronique, The - Krzysztof Kieslowski's THE DOUBLE LIFE OF VERONIQUE on DVD

It's a rare film that is so electrifying and emotionally philosophical an experience that it installs a vivid memory in viewers of where they were when they saw it, and what state their life was in at the time. Not to mention, a mysterious sense of how their lives might be seen and felt differently thereafter. It doesn't happen very much anymore, but Krzysztof Kieslowski's The Double Life of Veronique had just such an impact on most nearly everyone who saw it – ask a filmgoer who was there in the theaters in 1991, and you'll hear a gasp of transcendental remembrance, as if Kieslowski's film was a metaphysical ordeal, in addition to being something of a funeral song for the European art film we'd let dazzle us since the '60s of Antonioni, Bergman and Godard. It was, and is, all of these things. Certainly, filmmakers in recent years rarely take on the sort of poetic ambiguities and formal dreamwork Kieslowski did, and those that have (Alexander Sokurov, Abbas Kiarostami, Bela Tarr) have been sketchily distributed here at best. What did Kieslowski do that was so epochal? It's hard to articulate, but it has everything to do with his worshipful attention to dewy star Irene Jacob, to the the opalescent, world-through-a-teardrop cinematography of Slawomir Idziak, and to the fundamentally enigmatic tale co-written, as were all of Kieslowski's important films, by Krzysztof Piesiewicz. In a way, the story is quantum, constructed from both waves and particles, and subject to the Heisenberg principle: two women, one a choir soprano in Poland, the other a music teacher in France, both played by Jacob, coexist simultaneously but are unaware of each other. They cross paths for a glancing moment (on a bus tour in Krakow); Polish maiden Weronika glimpses her doppelganger, but the French Veronique does not. An upset in an unseen astral balance is apparently been created, because thereafter Weronika dies (in mid-recital) of heart failure. Across Europe – across the same ideological and cultural lines that have separated the continent for most of the 20th century – the reverbs hit Veronique, who in wrestling with the mundanities of her life now feels as if a connection she'd felt to the universe has been severed, leaving her for the first time truly alone... How do you film inner disconnectedness, or spiritual awakening? Don't ask, just watch. There's no possible way to beg for more concrete conclusions from this magnificent movie's scenario than Kieslowski wants to give you; you either enter into this languid world of sensual reverence, global ghostliness and neverending questions, or you leave the room. Are the two woman in fact the same, an otherwordly bifurcation discovered by chance – implying a secret government of spiritual tissue beneath the surface of life? Or is it coincidence, which itself becomes a metaphor for the story of a life, for time, for the role luck plays in the supposed significance of our lives? Speaking of metaphors, what about fate, self, identity, European history, feminist connectiveness, the alienating structures of modern society, and, why not, the Meaning of Life? Yes, yes, yes, and yes. But not, interestingly enough, Freudian psychology – this is one doppelganger whose tangible existence outside of her "host" is never questioned, and who does not reflect any sort of id-ego split, or indeed any sort of trauma at all. Kieslowski would've shrugged off such a psychoanalytic formulation as reductive – why should the movie deal with the mental troubles of a single woman, when it can effortlessly suggest interrogations about the nature of existence and self-knowledge? Veronique is nothing if not all-encompassing, large-hearted, passionately viewing the world through the perspective of Jacob's generous gamine, as a kaleidoscopic romance between light, shadow, flesh, crystal, doom and rebirth. For all of its Sturm und Drang (most of it emanating in shivery gouts from Zbigniew Preisner's apocalyptic score), Kieslowski's is a sweet, achingly optimistic film. Jacob, Kieslowski and the film won awards all over the map, most overwhelmingly at Cannes, where jaded festival goers stumbled out of the theater as if they'd been privy to a divine vision. In the end, Veronique is more of an experience than a dissectable text, which leaves it wide open to be lambasted, as merely visceral or sensual. But in 15 years I haven't encountered a single skeptical evaluation, outside of a single cavil about Kieslowski undressing his gorgeous young actress too often. (Too often for what?) It does seem that the movie cannot be gainsaid anymore than it can be broken down into symbols, like a Bach fugue or a Vermeer painting. "Nothing worth knowing," Woody Allen told Diane Keaton in Manhattan, "can be understood with the mind. Anything really valuable has to enter you from a different opening, if you'll forgive the disgusting imagery." Well, in cinephile lingo, particular movies are sometimes defined this way, as "pure cinema" – explosions of imagery that is its own means and end. Veronique is a formidable example, of an art-knowledge you acquire by purely physical means, with your eyes and your ears. The new Criterion package is customarily tricked out with historical treats, including three Kieslowski shorts, the extra U.S. ending mandated by Miramax muttonhead Harvey Weinstein (which is only slightly less puzzling than Kieslowski's original), two feature documentaries, new interviews with Idziak, Preisner and Jacob, and original essays by critics Jonathan Romney and Peter Cowie. For more information about The Double Life of Veronique, visit The Criterion Collection. To order The Double Life of Veronique, go to TCM Shopping. by Michael Atkinson

Quotes

Trivia

Miscellaneous Notes

Named best foreign film of 1991 by the National Society of Film Critics.

The Country of France

Zbigniew Preisner was cited for best music of the year by the Los Angeles Film Critics for his work on "At Play in the Fields of the Lord" (USA/91), "Europa, Europa" (Germany/France/90) and "The Double Life of Veronique" (France/Poland/91).

Expanded Release in United States December 13, 1991

Released in United States 1991

Released in United States August 1991

Released in United States Fall November 24, 1991

Released in United States January 1992

Released in United States June 1991

Released in United States May 1991

Released in United States on Video September 24, 1992

Released in United States September 1991

Shown at Boston Film Festival September 9-19, 1991.

Shown at Cannes Film Festival (in competition) May 9-20, 1991.

Shown at Filmfest Munich (International Program) June 1991.

Shown at Montreal World Film Festival (out of competition) August 22 - September 2, 1991.

Shown at New York Film Festival (opening night) September 20 - October 6, 1991.

Shown at Norwegian Film Festival in Haugesund August 18-24, 1991.

Shown at Palm Springs International Film Festival January 8-15, 1992.

Shown at Telluride Film Festival August 29 - September 2, 1991.

Shown at Toronto Festival of Festivals September 5-14, 1991.

Began shooting October 15, 1990.

Completed shooting December 15, 1990.

Irene Jacob is dubbed in Polish by Anna Gronostaj.

Released in United States 1991 (Shown at Montreal World Film Festival (out of competition) August 22 - September 2, 1991.)

Released in United States 1991 (Shown at Telluride Film Festival August 29 - September 2, 1991.)

Released in United States January 1992 (Shown at Palm Springs International Film Festival January 8-15, 1992.)

Released in United States May 1991 (Shown at Cannes Film Festival (in competition) May 9-20, 1991.)

Released in United States August 1991 (Shown at Norwegian Film Festival in Haugesund August 18-24, 1991.)

Released in United States September 1991 (Shown at Boston Film Festival September 9-19, 1991.)

Released in United States September 1991 (Shown at Toronto Festival of Festivals September 5-14, 1991.)

Released in United States on Video September 24, 1992

Released in United States Fall November 24, 1991

Expanded Release in United States December 13, 1991

Released in United States 1991 (Shown at New York Film Festival (opening night) September 20 - October 6, 1991.)

Released in United States June 1991 (Shown at Filmfest Munich (International Program) June 1991.)