March 14, 2013

The Decalogue (Krzysztof Kieślowski, 1988-1989)

10 part series originally made for Polish television... one-hour dramatizations loosely based on the Ten Commandments. In either dosage, Mr. Kieślowski's ambitious fresco offers a profound vision of human fallibility. Each film is a self-contained whole, but because of the interlocking structure major characters from one episode pop up in the background of others. The films are further linked by locale (all take place in the same Warsaw apartment complex); a haunting score by the composer Zbigniew Preisner; and an unnamed young man who appears silently, momentarily and inexplicably in each episode.

A good description of The Decalogue is it’s a larger examination of smaller unsolved issues we all carry around in ourselves. Most of the problems could have been avoided if the character's had made different decisions. Kieslowski gives cinematic voice to ethical problems in a way perhaps that no other director has. The Decalogue series debates with itself, a discussion of fundamental life issues, which only ideologists and moralists have bow-tied solutions for, but which people in general can agree on are extremely complicated dilemmas.

"It comes from a deep-rooted conviction that if there is anything worthwhile doing for the sake of culture, then it is touching on subject matters and situations which link people, and not those that divide people. There are too many things in the world which divide people, such as religion, politics, history, and nationalism. If culture is capable of anything, then it is finding that which unites us all. And there are so many things which unite people. It doesn't matter who you are or who I am, if your tooth aches or mine, it's still the same pain. Feelings are what link people together, because the word 'love' has the same meaning for everybody. Or 'fear', or 'suffering'. We all fear the same way and the same things. And we all love in the same way. That's why I tell about these things, because in all other things I immediately find division." Krzysztof Kieślowski