Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Diegetic or Non-Diegetic: The Music in Krzysztof Kieslowski's Blue

Last time we looked at what makes music diegetic or non-diegetic in a movie. While often it is clear which of these terms is applicable to a scene, sometimes, it can be rather ambiguous. Today we will look at a great example of this ambiguity in the 1993 Krzysztof Kieslowski film Blue from his Three Colors trilogy.

Blue begins with a fatal car accident that kills world-renown composer Patrice de Courcy and his young daughter, leaving behind widow, Julie Vignon. While Julie lies in a hospital bed early on in the film, she watches the funeral over a small television. An ensemble provides music for the funeral on screen, performing one of Patrice’s compositions. The scene begins 9:10 into the film.

This is a clear example of diegetic music. The music source is the television and Julie can obviously hear the music as she watches the funeral. What comes next is a bit more difficult to label. Begin watching at 11:20.

This scene begins as Julie is awoken by the same music heard during the funeral. She can clearly hear the music as she seems startled by it and listens intently. It cannot be heard by others around her, however, as is clear when the journalist appears for an interview. No source is shown for this music. Is it perhaps in Julie’s head?

What do you think? How would you label the music in this scene? 

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