The Double Life of Véronique  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

La double vie de Véronique ("The Double Life of Véronique"; Polish title, "Podwójne życie Weroniki") is a 1991 French- and Polish-language film directed by Krzysztof Kieślowski, co-written by Kieślowski and Krzysztof Piesiewicz, starring Irène Jacob, with music by Zbigniew Preisner.

The film was a departure from Kieślowski's earlier work in several ways. It was his first film produced partly outside Poland, and the parts taking place within Poland contain little reference to the social turmoil of the time; a pivotal scene is set in the midst of a political protest yet it is barely acknowledged by the camera or characters.

Plot summary

The film follows the lives of a young woman first in Poland, Weronika, and then a young woman in France, Véronique, both played by Irène Jacob. Though unrelated, the two appear identical, share many personality traits, and seem to be aware of each other on some level, as if they are doppelgängers; but except for a brief glimpse through a bus window in Kraków, they never meet. After Weronika sacrifices everything in the pursuit of a singing career, Véronique abandons her own similar goal because of poor health and attempts to find an independent course for her life, while becoming involved with a manipulative man who is fascinated by clues to her double nature. The man is a puppeteer and maker of marionettes, helping raise the questions that are central to the film: is there such a thing as free will, or is it up to a creator of some kind, or is it just a matter of chance that one acts and thinks as one does?

Kieślowski had earlier used a similar idea of exploring different paths in life for the same person, in his Polish film Przypadek (Blind Chance), and the central choice faced by Weronika/Véronique is based on a brief subplot in the ninth episode of The Decalogue.

Film critic Marek Haltof, like many Polish viewers, sees the film as a political allegory in which Weronika represents Poland and Véronique France, or the West: both are highly cultured, but while Véronique is seemingly free to choose her destiny, Weronika's early death represents the sacrifice of Poland during the Second World War and its subsequent incorporation into the Soviet bloc; Véronique senses this loss without realizing what it is, and that she is incomplete without Weronika.




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "The Double Life of Véronique" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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