Before he stunned the cinematic world with the epic 'The Decalogue' and the 'Three Colors' trilogy, the great Polish filmmaker Krzysztof Kie?lowski made his first work of metaphysical genius, Blind Chance, a compelling drama about the difficulty of reconciling political ideals with personal happiness. This unforgettable film follows Witek (a magnetic Boguslaw Linda), a medical student with an uncertain future in Communist Poland; Kie?lowski dramatizes Witek’s journey as a series of different possibilities, suggesting that chance rules our lives as much as choice. First suppressed and then censored by the Polish government, 'Blind Chance' is here presented in its complete original form.
Krzysztof Kieslowski's 'Blind Chance' film somehow always reminds me of Bill Murray's character in 'The Darjeeling Limited', as he is trying to always catch that train. We don't know who he is or why he's trying to catch the train, but he always seems to fall short of stepping on that platform. In Polish director Kieslowski's later career, he made the 'Color' trilogy, consisting of 'Red', 'White', and 'Blue' with 'Red' being my favorite of the three, and even being one of my top movies of all time.
But back in 1981, Kieslowski made a movie called 'Blind Chance', which was halted from release by the polish government until 1987, where it was released in a censored version. It wasn't censored for violence or nudity, but for it's central tone of communism, which was a big social and political issue when this movie was being made. After a few minutes into the film, you'll figure out why the communist government wasn't to keen on showing this movie, which showed all of the destruction, lies, and betrayal that came out of the communist party.
The film is set in three different sections with three types of scenarios and outcomes that follow a man named Witek (Boguslaw Linda) who is a young student of medicine, trying to get over the death of his father. He is becoming n adult and must decide what he really wants to do with his life and what path he wants to take to get there. Each segment starts off with running, trying to catch a train, as he is late and running into a guy with a beer. It's here where the story changes and provides a different outcome.
In the first segment, Witek boards the train and mixes it up with a communist buddy who convinces Witek to join him in the communist agenda. Although soon, he realizes that this party is full of lies and harmful practices that even a former love interest can't get behind, but he continues to struggle through it.
In the second segment, Witek misses the train and runs into a police officer, knocking him over. He is then arrested and sentenced to prison where he meets the leader of an underground movement. After being released and interrogated into talking about this underground movement, Witek joins a group of anti-communists, but becomes Catholic in the process, where he still doesn't seem that happy.
In the final section, Witek apologizes to the guy with the beer after almost running into him and fails to catch the the train. However, he sees a former love interest named Olga where they hit it off almost immediately. Witek decides to not take a political side, finishes medical school and has a family with Olga now. However, the heated political sides are ramping up, forcing Witek to make a decision on which path to take as people from the previous sections start to show up.
This is not a happy-go lucky film by any means. In fact it's quite gloomy, thanks to cinematographer Krzysztof Pakulski and his very bland and cold colors of blue and grey throughout. Nothing is inviting about this movie as Kieslowski tried to show what life was like in a communist society. That's what 'Blind Chance' does so well too, is that this film mostly showed the inevitable destruction of this political class system before it actually happened through the eyes of a young man who just wanted to be successful and have a family. It's quite brilliant.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
This Blu-ray edition of 'Blind Chance' comes from The Criterion Collection with spine #772 on a Region A locked 50GB Blu-ray disc with a clear keep-case. Included is a fully illustrated foldout Criterion booklet with an essay from Dennis Lim and an excerpt from a 1993 book based on interviews with Kieslowski. In addition to that, there are the tech specs and cast and crew info. There are no trailers that play before the main menu, which has menus screen options and the Criterion logo.
'Blind Chance' comes with a great 1080p HD transfer and is presented in 1.66:1 aspect ratio. According to the Criterion booklet, this is the uncensored version of the film that was restored in 2012. This is a digital transfer that was created in 4K resolution from the original 35mm negative and was approved by cinematographer Krzysztof Pakulski. The film looks great, possibly the best it has ever looked. The detail is strong and vivid throughout, especially in the well lit sequences outside, showing great detail in closeups and wider shots. Closeups show excellent facial features and fine stitching in the wardrobe.
Wider shots never go soft either, giving the image some excellent depth. Colors are natural and well balanced, although there are several scenes that needed to have the brightness level turned up, as things looked to gloomy and dark, which created some crush. Other than that, this video presentation looks great. The grain is well balanced and never fluctuates, keeping with the filmic look and the black levels are mostly deep and inky. Skin tones are also natural. There were no major instances with any compression issues either, leaving this video presentation with great marks.
This release comes with a LPCM 1.0 mix in Polish with great English subtitles. This simple audio track does its job well, although I would have rather had a stereo mix or even a 5.1 option, but I digress. This newly remastered audio mix is fine tuned and deep with range as the score sounds excellent and full, never overdoing it.
The sound effects and ambient noises are all well balanced as well here and are never unrealistic or overly loud. The dialogue is always crystal clear and easy to follow along with the subtitles. Lastly, there were no pops, cracks, shrills, or hiss to notice. This might not be a fully immersive track with tons of explosions, but it gets the job done with the type of film this sets out to be.
'Blind Chance': Unshelved (HD, 19 Mins.) - A new interview that was conducted in 2015 for this release with film critic Tadeusz Sobolewski, where he talks about Kieslowski's career and time spent making this movie, and relating it to the political and social awareness of the era.
Agnieszka Holland (HD, 6 Mins.) - An interview from more than a decade ago for the DVD version with director Agnieszka Holland, where she talks about the first cut of the film and the hardships of making this movie.
Censored (HD, 10 Mins.) - This film was was halted from being released, because of its sensitive political subject matter, but was later released with changes and missing scenes. These are the scenes in their original form.
Criterion Booklet - The usual Criterion booklet with an essay by Dennis Lim and an excerpt from a 1993 book based on interviews with Kieslowski. In addition to that, there are the tech specs and cast and crew info.
'Blind Chance' is an important film about a man who is given three chances to make the right decision in a communist riddled society in the early 1980s. Kieslowski brilliantly shows us his struggles and chance meetings as our main character Witek tries to catch a train, and the following actions that he takes to chose a life of good, no matter what obstacles may come his way. The video and audio presentations are both top notch from Criterion, and the extras are all worth watching as well. Criterion has knocked this release out of the park and is highly recommended.