The Decalogue is a series of ten films loosely based on the ten commandments.
At a glance, it would be easy to write off Krzysztof Kieslowski’s The Decalogue as religious propaganda or something similar, but that does not seem to be the intention. This is not a heavy handed approach to religion, or even morality. Though there are ten films in the series, each film does not explicitly follow a single commandment. In fact, the series focuses more on people than religion. The films are simple but powerful and though originally shot for Polish television, they are shot beautifully. The quality of the picture is not amazing and the translation seems a bit loose at times, but once you find yourself wrapped up in the story, you likely won’t even notice these things.
An elderly doctor and a younger woman both live in the same building. The two run into each other in the elevator and we can sense there is a tension between the two. Later, the woman runs into the doctor again and asks if he remembers her. He does – she ran over his dog several years back. The woman wants the doctor to assess her husband’s medical condition but he is reluctant to do so because of their history. The woman persists and informs the doctor that she is pregnant with the child of a man other than her husband. If her husband lives, she will abort the baby, but if he is to die she will carry the baby to term.
Another hugely impactful film, Decalogue II I found a bit harder to follow and had a harder time caring for the woman, Dorota. The moral decisions surrounding the events are all heavy topics and are treated with absolute care, though. Even with the graveness of the situations at hand, we understand the fate of the characters is set by their own actions. Decalogue II is a bit more gloomy overall, but the events in it kept me thinking long after it was over.
I give it 4 out of 5.