Decalogue VII (11/17/12)

Movie Two Hundred Sixty Four

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.

Decalogue VII

Majka (Maja Barelkowska) lives at home with her mother, Ewa (Anna Polony) and her young daughter, Ania/Anika (Katarzyna Piwowarczyk). Since Majka had Ania at such a young age, with an older man, to avoid scandal, the family decided to portray Ewa as Ania’s mother. Even Ania thinks Ewa is her actual mother. Majka wishes to leave the country with Ania but needs her mother’s approval to do so, but she decides to kidnap Ania instead after a school play.

Decalogue VII should have been a great film but something about it simply did not work for me. I don’t know if it was Majka as a character or the actress that played her, but I could not connect at all. It’s a shame too, because the ending of this film is one of the more moving pieces of the series and it fell flat for me. As with the other films of The Decalogue, the moral ambiguity presented here is fascinating, in fact the story is one of the better ones so far. Did Majka really kidnap her daughter or did she have the right to? Will the family ever be able to come back from this? I will admit that Decalogue VII had me thinking but unfortunately watching it was a bit of a chore.

I give it 3 out of 5.

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Decalogue VI (11/17/12)

Movie Two Hundred Sixty Three

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.

Decalogue VI

A young postal worker named Tomek (Olaf Lubaszenko) has been obsessively spying on an older woman, Magda (Grażyna Szapołowska), living in a building across the way. He devises plots to see her by sending her notices to get her to come to the post office and picks up a milk delivery route as well. Finally, Tomek decides to tell Magda that he has been peeping at her and he loves her, though she has long abandoned the idea of ‘love’.

I didn’t want to give too much away about the plot of Decalogue VI, since the latter half of the film is very interesting. Though Tomek and Magda’s relationship originally struck me as very odd and off-putting, I eventually found myself being a bit more understanding. Though, if someone came up to me and told me they had been stalking me, I’m not sure I would invite them up to my apartment. Still, I think Magda’s motivations are more understandable by the end of the film, though a bit weird, perhaps. The weird dynamic of rooting for a stalker held Decalogue VI back for me, I wanted to sympathize with Tomek but still found Magda more endearing. One thing for sure, Decalogue VI is one of the most unique romantic dramas I’ve ever seen. Decalogue VI was also released in an expanded form, called A Short Film About Love, which I would be curious to see how it compares.

I give it 4 out of 5.

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Decalogue IV (11/10/12)

Decalogue DekalogMovie Two Hundred Fifty Six

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.

Decalogue IV

Anka (Adrianna Biedrzynska) a young woman living with her father, Michal (Janusz Gajos), whom she shares a very close relationship with, almost like friends rather than parent/child. On one of Michal’s business trips, Anka decides to open a letter she finds with the writing “open after my death” on it and finds a letter from her deceased mother in it. After Michal returns from his trip, Anka reveals that she read the letter and that it explained that Michal may not be her real father and the two discover that they may have deeper feelings for each other.

While I understand the description of Decalogue IV sounds very perverse and weird, there is much more to it so please don’t be put off by something incestuous. That said, Decalogue IV is surprising in its frankness about such a relationship but that is also the mastery behind Kieslowski’s filmmaking. Never does Decalogue IV feel sleazy or reaching for a reaction, it presents a very personal relationship up close and unflinchingly but does not exploit the point. The ending will also likely surprise you. Although it is not my favorite of the series so far, Decalogue IV is a film I don’t think I will soon forget.

I give it 5 out of 5.

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Decalogue III (10/19/12)

Decalogue DekalogMovie Two Hundred Thirty Six

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.

Decalogue III

On Christmas Eve, a taxi driver named Janusz (Daniel Olbrychski) attending mass with his family runs into a woman, Ewa (Maria Pakulnis), he had an affair with several years prior. Later that evening, Ewa comes looking for Janusz to help find her husband, who is apparently missing. Janusz lies and tells his wife that his tax was stolen and he and Ewa go out driving around. Janusz is eager to get home to his family but Ewa persists. Eventually Janusz sees through Ewa’s plan, but does not say anything right away, but after spending the entire night driving around together, Ewa comes clean.

Decalogue III is possibly the smallest film in scope so far of the series. The film is largely just Janusz and Ewa driving around and there is fairly minimal dialogue as well. We learn a lot of Janusz and Ewa at a personal level and we can infer much about their personalities. Janusz cares greatly for his family but he also seems to have feelings for Ewa, though maybe not necessarily on a sexual level. Janusz does nearly succumb to weakness, but when he doesn’t he seems relieved more than anything. The main issue I had with Decalogue III is probably the pacing. There are long stretches with little to no dialogue and my interest started waning a few times. Still, the humanistic relationships built in an hour are better than most movies with twice the length.

I give it 4 out of 5.

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Decalogue II (10/16/12)

Decalogue DekalogMovie Two Hundred Thirty Four

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.

Decalogue II

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.

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Decalogue I (10/14/12)

Decalogue DekalogMovie Two Hundred Thirty Three

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.

Decalogue I

A young boy named Pawel lives with his father,Krzysztof, a professor, and together, the two have a very analytical way of thinking. They have computer programs to do calculations for physics problems,  including the thickness of the ice in a nearby pond and how much weight it should be able to hold. After finding a dead dog, Pawel decides he wants to go to religious lessons as a way to cope with his father’s views on there not being an afterlife.

Decalogue I really starts the series off with a bang, and it hooked me almost instantly. The beauty is that the characters are realistic and believable. When tragedy strikes, it is a punch to the gut and even though we were only just introduced to these characters in less than an hour’s time, we feel connected to them. This humanism is the magic of Kieslowski’s filmmaking and these “short” films are testaments to his genius. Decalogue I is one of the best films I’ve seen, and easily ranks among my favorites from Kieslowski

I give it 5 out of 5.

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