Thursday, February 24, 2011

1 Corinthians 13: Krzysztof Kieślowski's "Blue"

It's cop-out time here at Eat the Bible.  I've got a great weekly-posting streak going, and I'd hate to break it, but I've been out of town, and I have to start grading tomorrow morning, so a more substantive post will have to wait.

Nonetheless, I've been wanting to give you a movie recommendation for a while now: it's the Polish director Kryzsztof Kieslowski's Blue--one third of his epic Trois Couleurs trilogy.  The enchanting Juliette Binoche--and how can a great French actress not be "enchanting"--stars as Julie, a woman grieving the loss of her husband and daughter in a car wreck that she survives.  Her husband, a composer, leaves behind the unfinished score for a choral work celebrating European unity.  The film follows, among other things, Julie's hesitant struggle bring the work to completion with the help of a younger composer.

Why do I bring the film up tonight?  Because I want to drop some culture on your philistine asses, that's why.

Oh yes, and the libretto for the chorale is St. Paul's hymn to love in 1 Corinthians 13.  The film's closing scene marks my favorite moment of Biblical intertextuality in all of modern cinema.  Some other day, I'll offer my interpretation.  For now, I'll just give you the link to the last six minutes; the score is breathtaking. Paul's text follows below ...

If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13)

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