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In the last scene of the film, The Double Life of Veronique, (pictured above); Irene Jacob’s reaches out to touch a tree at her fathers home. A solitary, intimate moment. She has just come (at least in the movies timeframe) from being with her lover, the puppet maker whom she thinks she loves, but has taken her most intimate moments, the secret, mysterious connection she had with someone, her double, and made art out of it.  Creating matching puppets of herself and the double. He lured her to this relationship through a romantic mystery of sound and clues, in the desire to write a story about a woman deceived into building a relationship without substance, a dream. She has walked through this film with one foot in a seductive, ghostlike world of half truths, signs, and symbols. Her lover Exploits her deepest, private self.
Will she move on from this relationship? We’re not really told, nothing about her demeanor indicates what is going on in her head. Just, this image, which echo’s other moments of physical contact during the film, such as when the rain pours on her as she sings in ecstasy, or brushing her hand along a hedge wall, or touching her ring to the inner lip of her eyelid.  These moments are much more intimate then the lovemaking she participates in in the film. Touching, grounding herself in reality, in the moment. As Veronique touches the tree, perhaps it becomes a moment of truth in among the shades and half truths.

In a documentary found on the Criterion DVD of  Kieslowski’s film, The Double Life of Veronique, (1991) the filmmaker talks about having reached the end of his potential with documentary film. He realized that he could not film people making love, this type of intimacy represented the limitations of the intrusive nature of a camera. His camera had been used to great affect in documentaries on political and social subjects but when it came to the inner space of human emotions, dreams and hopes, he found he needed to stage and falsify the truth in order to tell the truth.  Telling a story that when described becomes silly, (paraphrasing his words) trying to achieve something intangible and real to the characters. “how do we cope with our inner selves”. People tend to hide their weaknesses.  He talks about trying to get actors to draw on their own experiences to bring two dimensional characters to life, to be willing to show their weaknesses.  How he himself hides behind the camera, the role of director, yet must try to realize truth through the process of writing and directing.  “And that’s why they feel so lonely, because they’re left alone with their problems. They’re ashamed to share them with anyone.” “We must break through this barrier”, He states.

How do we write stories that break through this barrier? We must be brave, fearless in spite of our fears. Vulnerable.

 

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