Sunday, Bloody Sunday (Dir John Schlesinger, 1971) The Double Life of Veronique (Dir Krzysztof Kieslowski, 1991)
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Sunday, Bloody Sunday (Dir John Schlesinger, 1971)

The Double Life of Veronique (Dir Krzysztof Kieslowski, 1991)

SUNDAY, BLOODY Sunday follows two characters (Glenda Jackson, Peter Finch), who are both in love with the same young man (Murray Head). It's about the complexity and irrationality of desire and its compelling nature. They are both in love with someone who is entirely unworthy of their affections. He is a bit of a dilettante, a pretentious young artist, very self-obsessed and unable to commit or love anyone. He flits between both of them, completely unaware of the damage he is causing.

Interestingly, it doesn't explain why they are in love with him. The question "why are they carrying on with this?" becomes like an interrogation about love and what we get out of love and whether it's unobtainable or real.

Regardless of their situation, Jackson and Finch are improved by the pursuit of love, they are out there kicking and screaming and engaging with other people. The film examines the options: some people follow a traditional path, getting married and having children; others invent their own lives.

It doesn't really say in the film whether one should compromise or not. Is it better to be out there fighting and kicking for something really passionate? That's the quixotic nature of desire.

The Double Life of Veronique is about a Polish and French woman who are doppelgangers (played by the same actress). The two characters aren't aware of each other's existence, yet each of them feels there is something missing in their lives. The movie is about absence: people go through life feeling like they are a part of something and they need to find their other half to complete them.

This film is a very stark metaphor for that, because they are actually looking for their twin. But I think people in a romantic way can feel like that about their lives too. There is something very mystical about the film.

Sunday, Bloody Sunday still feels relevant to contemporary lives. The Double Life of Veronique is very different, poetic and abstract, it speaks to the soul. But the two films complement each other because they touch the two sides of our inner being.

Although on the surface they don't seem to have much to do with each other, they are both perfect icons of modern cinema. They are both extremely accomplished, and I would say the best works of these two film-makers. They are pillars of contemporary film: the sophisticated urban drama and pure cinematic poetry.

In terms of my own work, they both fit equally into the kind of films I like to make. These are characters that have a huge amount of emotional baggage, and yet they haven't just gone into a room and shut down emotionally. They succeed only occasionally but are always ennobled by the pursuit.