(Poland 1988 559m) DVD1/2
Aka. The Decalogue/The Ten Commandments
More monumental than Sinai
p Ryszard Chutkowski d Krzysztof Kieslowski w Krzysztof Kieslowski, Krsysztof Piesewicz ph Wieslaw Zdort, Edward Klosinski, Piotr Sobocinski, Krzysztof Pakulski, Slawomir Idziak, Witold Amadek, Dariusz Kus, Andrzej Jaroszewicz, Jacek Blawut ed Ewa Smal m Zbigniew Preisner art Halina Dobrowolska
Henryk Baranowski (Krzysztof), Wojciech Klata (Pawel), Maja Komorowska (Irena), Krystyna Janda (Dorota), Aleksander Bardini (Consultant), Olgierd Lukaszwicz (Andrzej), Daniel Olbrychski (Janusz), Maria Pakulnis (Ewa), Joanna Szczepkowska (Janusz’ wife), Adrianna Biedrzynska (Anka), Janusz Gajos (Michel), Miroslaw Baka (Lazar Jacek), Krzysztof Globisz (Piotr), Jan Tesarz (Taxi driver), Grazyna Szapolowska (Magda), Olaf Lubaszenko (Tomek), Stegania Iwinska (Godmother), Anna Polony (Ewa), Maja Barelkowska (Majka), Wladyslaw Kowalski (Stefan), Boguslaw Linda (Wojtek), Maria Koscialkowska (Sofia), Teresa Marczewska (Elzbieta), Tadeusz Lomnicki (Tailor), Ewa Blaszczyk (Hanka), Piotr Machalica (Roman), Jerzy Stuhr (Jerzy), Zbigniew Zamachowski (Artur), Henryk Bista (Shopkeeper), Artur Barcis (recurring cyclist/man),
Oh, how to convey so briefly the essence of Kieslowski’s masterpiece. Books could be written on it alone, a vast, yet intimate tapestry of daily lives colliding in one small Warsaw apartment block, Dekalog is, in its basic essence, a series of ten tales based loosely on the morals of the Ten Commandents. Each is quite wonderful taken individually, but collectively, they are a shattering, unforgettable experience. So shattering that even the extended versions of parts five and six, A Short Film About Killing and A Short Film About Love, could not be considered, being as they are cogs in a much greater machine.
In “I am the Lord thy God, thou shalt have no Other God Before Me”, a man to whom mathematics is everything pays a heavy price. In “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain” a consultant at a hospital relates his sad life. In “Honour the Sabbath Day” a taxi driver laves his family alone on Christmas Eve to help an ex-mistress in a search. In “Honour Thy Father and Mother” a young female student lives with her architect father and undergoes complications in her life. “In Thou Shalt not Kill” a youth commits a seemingly motiveless murder and is sentenced to death. In “Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery” a postal worker spies on the woman opposite, falling in love with her. In “Thou Shalt Not Steal” a sad twenty something woman is having trouble with her four year old daughter. In “Thou Shalt Not Bear False Witness” a female university professor is introduced to an American academic researching the fate of the Jews after World War II. In “Thou Shalt Not Covet Thy Neighbour’s Wife”, a surgeon is told he can no longer have children or sex as a result of his promiscuity (AIDS?). In “Thou Shalt Not Covet Thy Neighbour’s Goods” two disparate brothers discover a dead man in their father’s flat.
Stanley Kubrick said of Kieslowski and Piesewicz that they “have the very rare ability to dramatise their ideas rather than just talking about them…they do this with such dazzling skill that you don’t realise until much later how profoundly they have reached your heart.” Ne’er a truer word was spoken, for there has never been a more intensely personal, meditative collaboration than that between the two Krzysztofs; they are just on an entirely different plain to everyone else in cinema history. The delicacy with which they treat each individual plot detail is topped only by the incredible ability with which they overlap stories and characters, just as one would do in everyday life. All the performances are immaculate (particular praise to Biedrzynska and Gajos in part four and Stuhr and Zamachowski in the hilarious last part, with its joyous finale as they both purchase the same stamps), but in truth this is collaborative in every sense, a monumental piece of work to shame the shallow emptiness of mainstream Hollywood. There are four hundred stories in the naked apartment block. These have been ten of them.