International Trilogies

The Lord of the Rings Trilogy: The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, The Return of the King
Director: Peter Jackson (New Zealand -ese? -ish?)
Starring: Elijah Wood, Viggo Mortenson, Ian McKellen, Andy Serkis, dozens more…

Everyone’s familiar with the Lord of the Rings trilogy, but I just didn’t feel right writing a post about trilogies without at least acknowledging it. The trilogy follows two intersecting stories: Frodo’s quest to destroy the One ring in the dark land of Mordor, and Aragorn’s journey to emerge from exile and unite the free people of Middle Earth and lead them in a final war. I felt that director Peter Jackson did complete justice to J.R.R. Tolkien’s books. The stories are epic and offer anything you could ever want from the fantasy and adventure genres. The trilogy cost a whopping $281 million to produce, but I’m glad they went all-out. I can’t even imagine how many extras they must have hired for the battles of Helms Deep and Minas Tirith. All three movies were filmed in New Zealand, and the scenic beauty does not go unnoticed. I’m very eagerly awaiting the release of The Hobbit.

Three Colors Trilogy: Blue, White, Red
Director: Krzysztof Kieslowski (Polish)
Starring: Juliette Binoche, Benoit Regent, Julie Delpy, Zbigniew Zamachowski, Irene Jacob, Jean-Louis Trintignant

The three colors (blue, white, red) are the colors of the French flag, and each film is based on one of the three ideas of the motto of the French republic: liberty, equality, and fraternity. Blue, considered an anti-tragedy, is about Julie, who is ‘liberated’ from her family bonds when her husband and child are killed in a car accident. Following the accident, she tries to sever all her former personal ties and live in isolation, but finds it difficult to do so. White, considered an anti-comedy, is about Karol, who seeks revenge on his ex-wife when their divorce leaves him homeless, penniless, and friendless. Red, considered an anti-romance, is about Valentine, a student and part-time model who meets a retired judge when she accidentally hits his dog with her car. Although she takes an initial dislike to him, finding it despicable that he spends his time snooping on the phone conversations of his neighbors, they slowly develop a friendship.

All three films deal with the theme of overcoming adversity and standing up in the face of forces that are sometimes beyond rationalization. I found the films to be almost karmic in their administration of justice. The wronged rise, the damaged find solace in unexpected places, and in the end the balance of the world is restored sometimes in seemingly perfect coincidence. Although such themes could easily have lent themselves to corniness and cliches, the characters are always sincere and the mood is uplifting rather than sappy.

Days of Being Wild, In the Mood for Love, 2046
Director: Wong Kar-wai (Chinese)
Starring: Leslie Cheung, Maggie Cheung, Carina Lau, Tony Leung, Gong Li, Faye Wong, Zhang Ziyi

These three separate stories can be considered a very loose trilogy, bound together by a few common characters. The first film, Days of Being Wild follows Yuddy (nicknamed York), a playboy who casually breaks the hearts of the women he seduces. The film portrays the rejection experienced by York’s ex-girlfriends, although York himself is forced to confront rejection by his biological mother from who he is estranged. In The Mood for Love tells the story of a man (Chow Mo-wan) and a woman (Su Li-zhen), next-door neighbors who find that their spouses are cheating with each other. Their spouses’ adultery brings them together as friends until their neighbors start questioning their spending so much time together. 2046 follows Chow years after he met Su Li-zhen, as various women pass in and out of his life. There is also a story within a story as Chow is writing a science fiction serial titled 2046 about a passenger on a train who is trying to leave the mysterious world of 2046 where people go to re-live their pasts.

After watching my first film of the three, In the Mood for Love (I watched the three films out of order), I was slightly disappointed by the lack of a happy ending. But after finishing all three films, I realized that they weren’t meant to be feel-good, happily-ever-after movies. They were realistic, if sometimes heartbreaking, portrayals of what men want from women, what women want from men, and the resultant satisfactions and disappointments on both sides. Wong kar-wai also has a very artistic eye, in one film we see feminine mystery and power embodied in a slow-motion shot of a black gloved hand swinging an elegant, tasseled purse. Each film also has a few especially memorable lines, one of which I have shared in an earlier post found here.

Millenium Trilogy: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire, The Girl who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest
Directors: Niels Arden Oplev (first film, Danish), Daniel Alfredson (second and third film, Swedish)
Starring: Noomi Rapace, Michael Nyqvist

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo follows journalist Mikael Blomkvist, who after being indicted in a libel case retreats to the countryside when he is hired to solve the murder mystery of Harriet Vanger, a girl who disappeared decades ago. In his search, he is joined by the hacker Lisbeth Salander. The second film takes place a year after Harriet Vanger’s case has been resolved and Lisbeth has been accused of murdering a journalist and his girlfriend, as well as another man who was her former legal guardian. Chased by the authorities, Lisbeth plunges into the world of organized crime and sets out to find who framed her. The final film follows Lisbeth’s struggle to prove her innocence in trial as corrupt outside powers work so hard to frame her.

I think the first movie is by far the strongest of the three. It’s gritty and engrossing and a great murder mystery. Lisbeth is a very different and refreshing character from the typical female Hollywood leads. She is dark and introverted, very brilliant, and due to her traumatic past, suspicious of all men, and hostile towards those who abuse women. Despite the twisting and captivating plot, the second and especially third movie fall a bit flat as the courtroom setting lends itself better to the novels than the films, in which it is far more entertaining to watch Lisbeth in action “in the wild” than it is to watch her brood in a cell, wondering what is going on in her mind.

*Bonus: BBC’s Sherlock
Director: Steven Moffat (British)
Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman, Mark Gatiss, Andrew Scott

Ok, so this isn’t really a trilogy. Sherlock is actually a TV series. But the three 90-minute episodes of each season effectively comprise a trilogy, and far surpass any Sherlock Holmes movies I’ve seen to date. Written and directed by the writer of all my favorite Doctor Who episodes, Steven Moffat has crafted a Sherlock Holmes that can only be described as “deliciously clever” and extremely satisfying to watch. The series covers some of the original Sir Arthur Conan Doyle favorites including “A Scandal in Bohemia,” “The Hound of the Baskervilles,” and “The Final Problem,” while providing a fresh modern twist (Watson is a blogger and Sherlock applies nicotine patches instead of smoking a pipe). I am not typically religiously devoted to TV shows, but Sherlock is a notable exception.

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About evajge

A friend once told me that all I eat is chocolate and cheese. I was both disturbed and amused to realize that he was right.
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2 Responses to International Trilogies

  1. nasen75 says:

    I have seen In the Mood for Love, but not the other two films in the trilogy. However, I have also seen the classic Wong Kar-Wai sleeper hit Chunking Express. Both of them are examples of my favorite Asian films because I really liked Wong’s directorial style.

    I have not seen the Swedish Millennium trilogy, but I have seen the American remake of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo with Rooney Mara as Lisbeth. I really enjoyed the film, but I’ll admit I can’t really give a fair critique as I have neither seen the original Swedish film nor have I read the book.

    I have seen the first season of Sherlock and am majorly itching for the second one to get posted on Netflix as I was legitimately impressed by what I have seen.

  2. evajge says:

    I saw the American remake and enjoyed it as well, but thought the original was better. It probably helped that I was unfamiliar with the actors in the Swedish films. It’s a little bit difficult for me to watch Daniel Craig without thinking James Bond or Nazi killer (Defiance). I also found the on-off inconsistency of the accents in the American version to be a bit annoying..

    And there was no way I could have waited this long to watch the second season on Sherlock. My brother and I found it online the day it came out in Britain. Like I said, I’m a little addicted.

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