Colors of Evil Red: Is the Netflix Show Based on an Actual Murder?

Directed by Adrian Panek, ‘Colors of Evil: Red’ transports us to Poland’s Tri-City area, where the mutilated body of a young girl is found on the beach. Prosecutor Leopold Bilski draws parallels between the murder and a case from 15 years ago, realizing that their seemingly peaceful city may be hiding inconvenient secrets. The mother of the victim, Helena Bogucka, is a judge and insists on accompanying Leopold in the search for truth. Along the way, she learns unsettling realities about her daughter and herself.

Also known as ‘Kolory zla. Czerwien,’ the Polish-language crime drama creates multiple gripping storylines, from the emotionally turbulent journey of a mother to an investigator unearthing a nexus of crime and corruption in his city. Featuring relevant themes interwoven with gripping twists and character studies, ‘Colors of Evil: Red’ warrants further investigation into its origins concerning whether or not it is a true story.

Colors of Evil: Red is a Book Adaptation that Explores Dark Emotions and Determinism Alongside Crime

‘Colors of Evil: Red’ is an adaptation of Malgorzata Oliwia Sobczak’s book of the same name developed for the screen by Lukasz M. Maciejewski and Adrian Panek. The Polish Netflix show follows the fictional narrative of the book closely and comes alive owing to excellent production, compelling performances, and the multifaceted storyline that drives it. Author Malgorzata has created the characters from her creative genius and spun them into a narrative of crime, determinism, and tumultuous emotion.

The color red is of symbolic importance in the show, denoting extremes. Its shades are seen on the shoes of the victim found on the beach in Sopot, on the part of the body that is of particular importance to the killer, on a ring, and in the carmine lipstick of Judge Helena Bogucka. As opposed to what is suggested in the title, the author explains that red is a multidimensional color, having both positive and negative connotations. It doesn’t have any neutral meanings. She associates it with love, courage, passion, and desires but also with chaos, blood, crime, and rebellion. All these aspects of the color can be found in the first book and, therefore, the show.

Malgorzata is inspired by the rise of contemporary crime novels, including Polish works that have branched off from classic detective stories and ventured into untested waters with new ideas and themes. In such an environment, Malgorzata believes that writers need to contribute unique value to their works. In addition to detective mysteries, they contain interesting socio-political contexts, romance, and even discourses on philosophy and morality, garnering appreciation in domestic and international markets. When it comes to giving a personal touch to her books, Malgorzata focuses especially on sensitivity to emotion in the exploration of fears, difficult memories, and family trauma.

The team behind ‘Colors of Evil: Red’ has managed to translate much of the same to their scenes. The screenplay by Lukasz M. Maciejewski and Adrian Panek does the source material justice, and so do the outstanding cast performances under the direction of Adrian Panek. The most well-translated of these elements is the theme of determinism and the dynamics and tragedies within Bogucka’s family. When it comes to the debate of predestination, Malgorzata takes a firm stance opposite the philosophy of show’s like ‘Dark,’ and believes that every action of a character shapes the story of her world.

The consequences of the action and inaction 15 years ago in the Tri-City region, combined with the oppressive nature of Helena’s father, leads directly or indirectly to the tragedy of her daughter’s murder. Despite becoming a capable and powerful woman, Helena has a past of abiding by her father’s will under his psychological oppression. Her subdued nature leads to her daughter, Monika Bogucka, having complete freedom, which she uses to cultivate dangerous interests and relationships. It is her own choices that lead her to her demise, but also those of her mother and her father before her, creating an interesting discourse on determinism.

Through intricate character studies, world-building, and gripping twists, ‘Colors of Evil: Red’ creates a compelling narrative that seems to feature layers of realism. Yet, it is a work of fiction, deriving its story from Malgorzata Oliwia Sobczak’s eponymous novel. With the color red symbolizing its themes, the show blends mystery, crime, and social commentary with a clash of determinism and free will.

Read More: Netflix’s Colors of Evil Red: All Filming Locations Explored