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Beyond the Duality of Intimacy and Intimidation: La double vie de Véronique and the Reclamation of Krzysztof Kieslowski’s Ethical Kernel after 1989

  • Man-tat Terence Leung
Chapter

Abstract

Traditionally, the liberal environment of the French intellectual culture has always been an attractive and revitalizing wonderland for writers and artists seeking to escape the intense pressures of political censorship pertaining to many ex-socialist regimes. Renowned Polish filmmaker Krzysztof Kieślowski was one such dissident artist, who fell under the French spell in the final episode of his artistic life. This chapter takes the film La double vie de Véronique (The Double Life of Veronique) (1991), arguably one of Kieślowski’s most important works that epitomizes the watershed moment of his own artistic transition from “political investigation” in Socialist Poland to “ethical inquiry” in capitalist France shortly after the fall of the Soviet Union, as the main point of departure to reclaim and resurface the latent sociopolitical implications of what this chapter calls the “ethical intimacies” that characterize his cinematic universe. Unlike much of the existing literature, which tends to dichotomously divide early and late Kieślowski in terms of definitive “political” and “ethical” traits, this chapter argues that this kind of predominant binary assessment is perhaps inadequate in fully recognizing and appreciating the profound subtleties and radical ambivalence of his cinema. Inspired by the Lacanian idea extimité (“extimacy”), this chapter also points out that the true ethical bearing of La double can never be simply dissociated from Kieślowski’s own eroticized visions of (post-)socialist politics. However idiosyncratically as the Kieślowski’s aesthetic rendering of socialist legacies appears, this highly underestimated ethicopolitical dimension of La double serves to keep its interpretations from being entirely subsumed or foreclosed by the present-day reigning capitalist ideology.

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Filmography

  1. La double vie de Véronique (The Double Life of Veronique). Director: Krzysztof Kieślowski. Performers: Irène Jacob, Wladyslaw Kowalski, and Halina Gryglaszewska. Sidéral Productions/Zespol Filmowy “Tor”/Norsk Film/Canal +. 1991.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Man-tat Terence Leung
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Professional Education & Executive DevelopmentHong Kong Polytechnic UniversityHung HomHong Kong

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