Polish director Krzysztof Kieslowski's The Double Life of Veronique is a mesmerizing and poetic film experience which expresses such transcendent feelings as intuition, identity, fate and free-will. Are we alone in this universe, or is there more than one of us? We have no rational understanding of this, it is simply a feeling that we have, perhaps physical or metaphysical, as such feelings are inexplicable and beyond our comprehension. They're such scientific theories about events that can effect another person from a distance, and it is said twins can develop a intuit form of feeling and understanding between one another. Kieslowski does not give the audience any form of explanation, and instead, like all great artists, evokes such haunting questions with rich ideas and gorgeous visuals, and creates an ambiguous form of art. Weronika, a young Polish woman, is by chance after singing impromptu at a friend’s rehearsal offered an audition and ultimately a solo part in a concert. Suffering from heart problems, she suddenly collapses and dies in mid-recital, shortly after seeing her doppelgänger in a Kraków square. That double is the French music teacher Véronique; who also suffers from a weak heart. Immediately after the death of Weronika, of whose existence she has no inkling, Véronique experiences an uncanny sense of grief and solitude and consequently quits her other career as a singer. She beings receiving a number of mysterious packages and by playing detective, Véronique traces the clues to Paris’s Gare Saint-Lazare where she finds a puppeteer waiting for her, and the two eventually become lovers. The legendary Polish director Krzysztof Kieslowski also suffered from a heart condition, had a heart attack in 1995, and shortly died in 1996 in a Warsaw hospital after botched heart surgery; creating an unsettling connection to the director and both heroines of the story. With just a short span of films, Kieslowski has created some of the most spiritual and life affirming films in the world, often dealing with such existential and transcending themes as illness, death, loss and morality. Kieslowski defined the film's subject matter of the The Double Life of Veronique by stating, "The realm of superstitions, fortune-telling, presentiments, intuition, dreams, all this is the inner life of a human being, and all this is the hardest thing to film." The Double Life of Veronique doesn't just allow audiences for uncertainty and analysis, but encourages it, creating a mysterious, and spiritual world of coincidences, parallels, and synchronicity, linking our souls to the past, present and future.
In Poland in 1968, a little girl is shown the stars in the winter sky by her mother, who identifies the Christmas Eve star: "That's the star we're waiting for to start Christmas eve. You see it? And there...look at all the haze there below. It's not haze. It's really million of little stars. Show me."
In France, a little girl is shown one of the first leaves of spring ring by her mother, who points out the fine veins running through: "Here's the first leaf. It's springtime, and soon all the trees will have leaves. Look. Here, on the lighter side, there are little veins and a very fine down."
In Poland in 1990, a young Polish woman named Weronika (Irène Jacob) is singing at an outdoor concert with her choir when a sudden downpour causes the singers to rush for cover. Weronika alone continues to hold the last note while the rain falls on her smiling face.
After the concert, Weronika meets her boyfriend, Antek (Jerzy Gudejko), and they go to his apartment to make love. While snuggling and twisting her finger on a piece of string attached to her music folder, Antek looks at Weronika's finger which was broken at a young age when her girlfriend's father slammed a door on it right after high school exams. She passed her piano exam that very day.
The next day Weronika enters her father's study while he is drawing a Polish landscape, and she asks her father to tell Antek she is leaving to be with her sick aunt in Kraków. She says, "I have a strange feeling. I feel like I'm not alone. Like I'm not alone in this world. I don't know."
Weronika travels to Kraków by train looking out at the passing landscape through a small clear transparent rubber ball which presents the world as upside-down.
At her aunt's house, Weronika talks about her boyfriend, and her aunt's lawyer calls. Her aunt has to answer it telling Weronika, "Yesterday you were surprised to find me alive. Everyone in our family died while in good health. My mother and yours too. It's about my will."
Weronika then meets a friend at a concert rehearsal. As the choir rehearses, Weronika, who is watching offstage, accompanies them in a beautiful high soprano voice. Afterwards, the musical director asks her to audition because she has a very unusual voice. Overjoyed, Weronika rushes out with the sheet music as she throws the clear transparent ball high into the air, causing a golden dust of spreckles to fall onto her face.
On the way home she passes through Main Market Square, where a protest rally is in progress. One protester runs into her, causing her to drop her music folder. After retrieving the sheet music, Weronika notices a French tourist taking photos of the protestors—a young woman who looks exactly like her. Weronika smiles as she watches her double board the tourist bus that soon pulls away.
At the audition Weronika's sings and again twists her finger on the piece of string of her music folder, which this time snaps. Her singing impresses the musical director and conductor, and is later told that she participate in an audition. While walking home Weronika suffers sever pains in her chest as she watches a man walk past her and flash his genitals.
After attending the audition, Weronika is told she had won, and everyone seems to be happy except for one mysterious woman in a black hat. The next day, while on a trolley studying the score, Weronika notices her boyfriend Antek following on his motorbike. When they talk, she apologizes for not returning his calls, and Antek gives her a Christmas gift and tells her he loves her. Antek gives Weronika a ride home and she promises she will call him.
Later, while getting dressed for the concert, Weronika presses her face against a window and sees an old woman hunched over with shopping bags slowly making her way along the street. She opens the window and calls out to the woman asking if she needs help, but the woman doesn't answer her.
That night during the concert, while singing a solo part, Weronika collapses onstage and dies—her spirit passing over the audience.
At her funeral Weronika is being buried as the camera's perspective is that of the coffin, as dirt is being covered over the camera lens.
In Paris that day, a young French woman named Véronique (Irène Jacob), who also suffers from a weak heart, is making love with her former boyfriend. She is suddenly overwhelmed with sadness, as if she were grieving. Her boyfriend asks if she is grieving over someone, but Veronique doesn't know.
Veronique drives to her music teacher's home to tell him she is quitting her career as a singer, but she doesn't know why, only that she has too. Her teacher says that she is wasting her talent and that she has no right. When he asks if she will see him again Veronique tells him no and quickly leaves.
The next day, at the school where she teaches music, Véronique attends a marionette performance with her class. During the performance—a story about a ballet dancer who breaks her leg and then turns into a butterfly—Véronique watches the puppeteer controlling the marionettes.
Back in her classroom, she leads her class in a musical piece by an eighteenth-century composer, Van den Budenmayer—the same piece performed by Weronika when she died. While leading them the class into this piece she watches the puppeteer pack his belongings up inside his truck from the classroom window. The puppeteer stops and looks at Veronique from the street, probably aware that she is teaching the music of Budenmayer to her students.
That night while driving home, Veronique sees the puppeteer's truck at a traffic light motioning to her not to light the wrong end of her cigarette. Later she is awakened by a phone call with no one speaking, but in the background she hears a choir singing the music of Van den Budenmayer.
The next day, Véronique drives to her father's house where she reveals she is in love with someone she doesn't know,. Her father asks her to explain and Veronique says: "Not long ago, I had a strange sensation, I felt that I was alone. All of a sudden. Yet nothing changed."
Veronique visits her friend Catherine who is getting a bitter divorce from her husband Jean Pierre and needs a friend to go to court perjure herself to say: "I slept with that man 13 times last year, and this year too."
Back in Paris, Véronique receives a mysterious letter containing a shoelace which she throws away. That night she is awakened by a strange light reflecting from a neighbor's mirror. But when the neighbor closes his windows the light remains. This gives Véronique the idea to retrieve the mysterious shoelace, and later while contemplating her recent EKG graph, she holds the shoestring across the graph paper in a straight line.
Véronique learns from Catherine that the puppeteer is a children's book author named Alexandre Fabbri (Philippe Volter), whose marionette story was based on his book Libellule & Papillon. One of his other books is about a shoelace.
In the coming days, Véronique reads several of Alexandre's books. When Veronique gets a mysterious package of Virginia cigars, she finds Jean Pierre waiting for her on the staircase of her apartment. He asks her why she is doing this and if she is really set on this. Jean Pierre tells her he is turning himself in.
When Véronique visits her father, he gives her a package addressed to her containing a cassette tape. Before leaving Veronique says to her father, "I must have been dreaming. I saw a drawing. Very simple, even primitive. A sloping road in a small town with houses on both sides and a church in the background."
During her music class Veronique again sees an elderly woman with a cane walking on the street through the window. When she's alone, Veronique listens to the mysterious recording of a typewriter, footsteps, a door opening, a train station, and a fragment of music by Van den Budenmayer. There are also sounds of a car accident and explosion. Suddenly, during her listen Veronique thinks she hears someone that is in her apartment. Perhaps the spirit of Weronika?
The postage stamp on the envelope leads Véronique to a Gare Saint-Lazare train station where she believes the cassette recording was made. While looking for him, Veronique sees the mysterious woman with the black hat who was at Weronika's singing rehearsal. The woman is shocked to see Veronique, (Probably shocked to see another woman who looked identical to the woman she knows has recently died.) Veronique comes across a totaled vehicle which is reminiscent of the car crashing on the audio tape.
While arriving in the train station café, Veronique sees Alexandre sitting by himself, as if waiting for her, while the shot cuts away to the totaled car being towed off the street. Alexandre tells her he's been waiting for her for over two days. She was afraid when arriving that he wouldn't be here and Alexandre says that he had to be there saying, "I wanted to be sure. I wanted to see if it was psychologically possible. "Since you're here, you must know that I write children's books," he says. "But now I want to write...a real book. in this book there is a woman who answers the call of a complete stranger. So I wondered whether it was possible. Whether, psychologically a woman...Anyway...whether it was possible."
Angered at being manipulated, Véronique leaves and hides from Alexandre in the street. After he misses her, she takes a taxi to a nearby hotel. immediately after checking in, she sees Alexandre, who apparently ran after the taxi. He asks for her forgiveness, and she brings him up to her room, where they both fall asleep.
During the night, he wakes her up and she tells him, "As I was falling asleep, I saw a sheet floating down." Alexandre tells her he loves her, and she returns the exchange, as the two make love. The next morning Veronique asks Alexandre what he wants to know about her. She empties her bag which includes such items as the transparent rubber ball, and Alexandre says, "Now I know why you were the one. It wasn't the book." Veronique knew that since the first night he called her, even before that. "Maybe this has nothing to do with it, or maybe it does," Veronique says. "All my life I've felt like I was here and somewhere else at the same time. It's hard to explain. But I know I always sense what I should do."
While looking at a proof sheet of photos taken on Véronique's recent trip to Poland, Czechoslvokia, and Hungary, Alexandre notices what he thinks is a photo of Véronique wearing a red coat in Krakow, but she assures him it is not her, that she in fact took the photo of a young Polish woman carrying a music folder.
Véronique crumples the proof sheet and breaks down in tears. Alexandre comforts her and they make love again.
Later at his apartment, Véronique sees Alexandre working on a new marionette with her image. When asked about the purpose of a second identical marionette, Alexandre explains, "I handle them a lot when I perform. They get damaged easily." He shows her how to work the one marionette while the double lays lifeless on the table resembling the deceased Weronika.
Some time later, Alexandre reads his new book to Véronique about two women, born the same day in different cities, who have a mysterious connection: "November 23, 1966, was the most important day of their lives. That day, at 3:00 in the morning, they were both born, each in the same city, on a different continent. They both had dark hair and brownish-green eyes. At two years old, when both knew how to walk, one of them burned her hand on a stove. A few days later, the other one reached out to touch a stove but pulled back just in time. Yet she couldn't have known she was about to burn herself. I think I will call it The Double Life...I haven't decided what to name them."
When The Double Life of Veronique was first screened at Cannes in 1991 the critical reception was rapturous. Nigel Andrews of the Financial Times commented, “I believe we are being hypnotized in The Double Life of Veronique…How else to explain the ability of a French-Polish film with a nonsensical plot premise…to enthrall and enchant us like no European film in recent history?” The Double Life of Veronique blends a remarkable combination of simplicity and complexity, as the film explores two young women, one French, one Polish, who for all intents and purposes are one and the same, and yet drastically different.
The film has a strong fantasy element, though the supernatural aspect of the story is never explained. The film does not represent nearly as much of a break with Kieslowski’s Polish features as it may initially seem. While the visual stylization and the European setting are new, the film continues a thread of what could be seen as mysticism and a manipulation in the narrative within the directors work. Kieslowski started out as a documentarian since the mid 1960’s, exhaustively explored the realities of Communist Poland, and in the early 1990’s he declared a complete lack of interest in Polish politics. Significantly, during The Double Life of Veronique in which a political demonstration is taking place in the Krakow square, Weronika seems to lack an interest in them and is completely lost in her own thoughts.
The later Three Colors: Blue, showcased Preisner's musical score as a major plot element, crediting his work to the fictional Van den Budenmayer. The music in the film is an integrated narrative element and Kieslowski ironically had received a letter from Holland threatening him with a lawsuit if he continued to use Van den Budenmayer’s music without paying for rights. The cinematography is highly stylized, using bold colors and camera filters to create an ethereal atmosphere. The cinematographer, Slawomir Idziak, had previously experimented with these techniques in one episode of The Decalogue, and Kieslowski would later use color for a wider range of effects in his Three Colors trilogy. Kieslowski had earlier used the idea of exploring different paths in life for the same person, in his Polish film Blind Chance, and the central choice faced by Weronika/Véronique is based on a brief subplot in the ninth episode of The Decalogue, which is a television series that is loosely based on the Ten Commandments.
The Double Life of Veronique is a self-conscious meditation on what we really are looking, as the opening shots of the film we are shown an upside down view of a Polish street at night and it the voice of the mother of Weronika that is the guide helping young Weronika to see. The upside down glass is one of the many shots in the film where we are not directly shown what we originally believe we are looking at, as the beginning credits also present future plot sequences of Weronika dropping her sheet music into the streets of the Kraków square. This surreal credit sequence gives the feeling that the film is suspended outside of time, as it is beautifully shot with a blurry distorted lens. Kieslowski and director of photography Stawomir Idziak consistently use a yellow-green filter that film's the world with a benign, autumnal glow. Kieslowski claimed that this choice of color was a matter of visual contrast, determined by the dominant gray of the films locations, Kraków and Clermont-Ferrand. The cinematography is extraordinary as Kieslowski shoots such gorgeously shot sequences, like the glass coffin being buried in the perspective of the deceased Weronika, as we peer up at the living. The upside down sequence from the beginning of the film is repeated again as Weronika collapses and dies during her concert, and her soul seems to sour through the theater audience.
Doubling, self-reflection, and ordinary objects are symbolic in all of Kieslowski’s films, which are very often charged with metaphysical meanings to the story. Both heroines lost their mothers early in life, both women are largely involved with music, both have a strong bond with their fathers, both women suffer from a weak heart, and both are sexually active with their boyfriends (their few cinematic moments of extreme pleasure are nonsexual.)
Strings, rope and threads are a repeated metaphor throughout the film, as fingers twining around a string attached to a music folder is done by both women. The string snaps during Weronika’s singing audition, symbolizing that singing is too great an effort which will cost her her life. The string is later mirrored as the rope which is lowering Weronika's glass coffin into the dirt, and receiving a string is the first of many clues that Veronique is given by Alexandre. Veronique lays out the string that Alexandre has given her in a straight line against her electro cardiogrham, as if tracing an equivalence between her and Weronika's life lines. Alexandre has written a story about a thread, and reels Veronique in on a thread of clues, which causes the two of them to ultimately meet.
Other repeated objects are each women’s ring, in which both women take them off their finger and place it under their eyelid. The transparent rubber ball with floating stars that both women peer into reflects the world upside down, much like the first image of the film that shows Weronika looking up at the stars when she was a little girl held upside down by her mother in 68 Poland on Christmas Eve. Later the adult Weronika is looking out the train window which distorts the landscape outside. Rain falls upon Weronika during the outdoor recital with radiant pleasure and delight, and later golden dust falls upon her with again pleasure and delight.
Many of the objects are the mysterious clues that Alexandre sends Véronique, and are the things that drive Veronique to begin playing detective. Her first clue begins when she receives an anonymous phone call of the music Weronika was singing when she died, and Veronique is currently teaching at school. Instead of being threatened by this phone call, it fascinates her. She gets a mysterious package mailed to her of a string, which is a symbol of a link between both women, but Veronique originally thinks nothing of it and simply throws it out. Than one evening Veronique wakes up to a mysterious light which seems to be reflected from a neighbor's mirror, and yet continues to remain when the neighbor closes his windows. This ambiguous light has the audience question its origin, as we wonder whether it’s physical or perhaps metaphysical. This light that also symbolizes something that is inexplicable, and beyond comprehension, leading Veronique back to retrieve the string that she originally disregarded. Like several of the images Kieslowski expresses in the film, Veronique comes to the realization that simple unimportant objects if looked at closer can have a much greater and more cosmic meaning.
That evening Veronique lays out the string in a straight line against her electro cardiogrham which suggests her and Weronika's weak heart condition. She at first holds the line straight symbolizing an image of death similar to a straight line on a hospital monitor. However, Veronique turns the string into a wavy one which suggests a circle of life rather than a line of death, and that unlike Weronika, she will live. When Véronique visits her father, he gives her a package addressed to her containing a cassette tape. When she's alone, Veronique listens to the mysterious recording of a typewriter, footsteps, a door opening, a train station, and a fragment of music by Van den Budenmayer. There are also sounds of a car accident and explosion. They’re several moments in the film which feel that the spiritual presence of Weronika is guiding Veronique one step closer in discovering her existence through the clues that Alexandre is giving her. One evening Veronique wakes up and has the feeling that another presence is in the room with her. Perhaps the spirit of Weronika?
A magnifying glass makes its appearance several times in the film, and is the tool that Veronique uses to discover the mailing address which leads her to a Gare Saint-Lazare train station, where she believes the cassette recording was made. When arriving to the train station, Alexandre is waiting for her. He tells her that the tape was part of an experiment for a novel, in which he wanted to know whether it was psychologically plausible for a woman to follow such a trail. Offended, Véronique walks out, but he follows her, and they become lovers.
Another famous recurring image throughout all of Kieslowski’s films is that of elderly person recycling bottles, which is shown most famously in all three of his Three Color films. In The Double Life of Veronique, the character of Weronika presses her face against a window and sees an old woman hunched over with shopping bags slowly making her way along the street. She opens the window and calls out to the woman asking if she needs help, but the woman doesn't answer her. Kieslowski had said in an interview that there might be an element of guilt with the repetition of these particular scenes throughout all his work. When he was a young boy in a town of Poland, he and some friends would make fun of an elderly woman, which is one of the reasons he shows an elderly person in dire need of help. He also stated at a press conference that he simply likes to remind viewers of mortality and that the fact some day we may to too old to be able to get a bottle into a bin.
Actress Irène Jacob learned Polish to play the role of Weronika, and even though her voice was finally dubbed over because her Polish had a bit of an accent; she mastered the language completely. This may be one of the reasons that she was awarded the prize of Best Actress at the 1991 Cannes Film Festival. When cast as the lead role in The Double Life of Veronique, she was a largely unknown 24-year-old Swiss actress and Kieslowski noticed her in the small role as the piano teacher in Louise Malle’s masterpiece Au revoir les Enfants; and she would later play the lead in Kieslowski’s final film of his Three Color Trilogy, Red. Swedish director Ingmar Bergman once stated that the human face is the great subject of the cinema, and it seems that director Kieslowski greatly understands this as well, as his camera spends a great deal of time focused on Jacob's face, making the audience literally fall in love with the star.
Kieslowski does not try to simply observe Irène Jacob's beauty and instead focuses on her subtle facial expressions, like such sequences as when her face lights up with radiant delight and pleasure after the downpour of rain, or when she simply pauses to lift her head up towards the blazing sun, and when the camera follows her movement when she gets up after reading in her bed. Kieslowski shows us what her character is thinking and feeling with the lens of the camera and explores her vulnerability, joy, and sadness, and shows a women who is susceptible to grief, pleasure, and easily liable to falling in love. These detailed close-ups invite us into the soul of her character, and we begin to see her as a vibrant, lively and earthly being. Originally Kieslowski did not envision Irène Jacob as the actress for The Double Life of Veronique. He had been on the jury at the 1989 Cannes Film Festival when Sex, Lies and Videotape took the Palme d'or, and was entranced with Andie MacDowell and thought of her for the part. Ultimately he went with Irène Jacob as he was right to select a European actress for the film, as it is now impossible to imagine anyone else in the part of Veronique/Weronika.
Alexandre can be looked at as an evolved soul who brings a feeling of lucidity to Veronique, and slightly a father figure for Veronique, who seems very child-like by heart. Alexandre is the one who finds the image of the Polish Weronika (the Doppelganger) in Veronique’s photos, which enables Veronique ‘To look’ like the mother says in the opening sequence, and to have her literally see and comprehend the greater meaning of things. It’s a haunting image when Véronique sees Alexandre working on a new marionette with her image. When asked about the purpose of a second identical marionette, Alexandre explains, "I handle them a lot when I perform. They get damaged easily." It seems that Alexandre seems to be a double for the director Krzysztof Kieslowski, who also creates two images of a woman, which can be looked at as a representation of a higher power (director) manipulating and controlling the events of a story and of the choices and fates of its characters.(The actors/actresses). Ironically Kieslowski once stated that “An actor should not be made to feel not like a marionette.” Like the director who is the supreme creator of the film, the character of Alexandre can also be looked at as an allegory for some superior being that creates us, control our acts, 'writes' our lives, and keeps us alive. The clues that Alexandre sends Veronique has to do with Alexandre's storybook that he wrote, and yet they seem to coincedentially be the very threads and clues that characterize Weronika. How is this possible, and is Alexandre somehow spiritually connected to Veronique's Doppelganger? It seems that Alexandre's wise and divine intuitions are out of his control, as he himself seems surprised when discovering the photograph of Weronika.
Maybe it is the spirit of Weronika who is supernaturally working through him, and the puppeteer is merely the puppet who is being used to contact Veronique. I don't know. His mysterious, devious and all-wise character encompasses many of the characteristics of the mysterious guardian angel who hovers in The Decalogue, (the puppeteers van is that of a symbol of an angel with wings) and of the voyeuristic Judge in Three Colors: Red, (he does seem to stalk Veronique to find out who she is and where she lives) and his profession of being a professional puppeteer might be some form of metaphor for manipulating and controlling others. The cassette tape that Alexandre mailed to Veronique's father (how he knew of Veronique's father and of his address is another mystery) seems to have the frightening recordings of a fatal car accident and explosion which Veronique ultimately comes across to see in the streets; and it feels that these might be clear signs that Alexandre could be a danger to Veronique. When Veronique first meets Alexandre she flees from him believing he was merely using her towards his creative intentions. He ultimately succeeded with convincing her that she was the one he truly desired, but while reading his new story to Veronique, it is quite obvious he is slightly manipulating and using Veronique and of her life to create something of his own. When Alexandre reads Veronique his new book which tells the story about two women, born the same day in different cities, who have a mysterious connection; it becomes apparent that the agenda of Alexandre intersects with the agenda of the director. Both are telling stories about the story of two women, and both seem to be manipulating and controlling them like puppets which are frighteningly similar to the two marionettes that Alexandre has made, one that symbolizes Veronique, while the double lays lifeless on the table symbolizing the deceased Weronika.
There are several instances in the film that are purposely left ambiguous, unanswered and are simply there for interpretation. One of the instances is during Weronika’s first heart attack out in the streets, which leads to one of the strangest and darkly absurd sequences of the film. In a 45 degree angle perspective Weronika looks up in pain to see a gentlemen walk towards her, and instead of helping her, he flashes his gentiles under his coat. This dark comedic sequence even makes Weronika slightly smirk, and is a sort of warning for the character that singing will cost her her life. There also is a mysterious woman with a black hat that is shown earlier in the story sitting in the audience during Weronika’s audition, and she doesn’t look very happy that Weronika had won the competition. Her character reappears later in the film right before Veronique finally meets up with Alexandre, and is one of the many threads that connect the first part of the film to the last third of the film. Is she a symbol for a harbinger of Doom, or is she related to an Angel of Death?
Kieslowski's films are fascinated by the notions of chance vs fate vs freewill, as we begin to ask ourselves whether it was chance or fate when characters come into contact with certain music, objects, individuals and of life or death. Like Kieslowski, both of the character’s in The Double Life of Veronique suffer from weak hearts, and Veronique is also a smoker, as was Kieslowski, who was known to be a chain smoker; and so it’s not surprising that his beloved characters would smoke too. (Like in the sequence when Veronique sees the puppeteer's truck at a traffic light motioning to her not to light the wrong end of her cigarette.) Kieslowski stated that there must be more beyond what we can see, and indeed it’s an appropriate way to describe the things that are expressed in The Double Life of Veronique. Kieslowski wanted to make a film about intuition, fate, parallel lives and irrational relationships, and the best way to explore these elements were to not feel the need to find a literal answer to them. The film works much more effectively on metaphysical and spiritual connections than trying to simply piece together the plot and of its meanings. Kieslowski denied that there were any metaphors in his films: "For me, a bottle of milk is simply a bottle of milk; when it spills, it means milk's been spilled. Nothing more." Yet he also confessed that he aspired to those moments when a film manages to escape from literalism. If The Double Life of Veronique has audiences search for a meaning throughout its maze of ambiguous significations, it is probably because Kieslowski made the film in such a similar way. He and editor Jacques Witta prepared The Double Life of Veronique to open in 17 theaters, and thus wanted 17 endings, including one in which Veronique goes to Kraków and sees a third version of herself. One version for example, concentrated more on the unusual subplot of Veronique’s best friend Catherine who is getting a bitter divorce from her husband Jean Pierre. She needs a friend to go to court to perjure herself in a divorce hearing, and Veronique agrees to it, but Kieslowski decided to cut most of that subplot from the film. Nevertheless, he chose to leave in a few sequences because he wanted to bring Veronique ‘Down to earth,’ and for the viewer to see her as a rather ordinary young woman willing to do something questionable and immoral. Harvey Weinstein, the film's U.S. distributor, also felt unsatisfied with the director's ending and wanted Kieslowski to edit four additional shots for the ending of the film. As critic Roger Ebert states about this unneeded American ending: "They explain nothing and add nothing. All they demonstrate is that Weinstein thought Kieslowski's final image of Veronique's hand touching the rough old bark of a tree could be improved by her running across a lawn to hug her father. This whole film is a hug, the kind you share with a very good friend when you are in sympathy about something that is very important."