Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The Decalogue IV, V, VI

Dekalog; drama, Poland, 1988; D: Krzysztof Kieślowski, S: Adrianna Biedrzyńska, Janusz Gajos, Miroslaw Baka, Jan Tesarz, Olaf Lubaszenko, Grażyna Szapołowska

Part IV: after Michal goes on a trip, his daughter, the 20-year old acting student Anka, decides to secretly open a letter that was left to her by her late mother. When Michal returns, she claims that she read the letter and that in it, her mother wrote that Michal is not her real father. When this disrupts their relationship, Anka suddenly claims she made that all up and never read the letter. Together, they burn the unopened letter... Part V: a 20-year old delinquent cruelly kills a taxi driver. Despite his idealistic lawyer, the delinquent is sentenced to death on a trial... Part VI: Tomek, a young postman, curiously observes the window of his neighbour's apartment, the attractive Magda, at night. He feigns fake notices in order for Magda to visit his post office. Finally, they go out on a date. After a premature ejaculation, Magda belittles him, and a humiliated Tomek runs away and tries to commit suicide. He survives, but has no more interest in Magda, much to her disappointment.

Krzystof Kieslowski continued his legendary TV decalogy with parts 4, 5 and 6, arguably the most unusual instalments in the "Decalogue" series, which are all symbolically congruent to the Ten Commandments - but also, at the same time, show how today's modern society became so complex that these 'rump' commandments are not sufficient enough to encompass all the "grey areas". Part IV is one of the highlights, showing how the 20-year old Anka claims to have found out that Michal is not her biological father, which leads the story into unpredictable directions. For one, Anka even tries to seduce her adoptive father, taking off her shirt and bra, hinting at incest, but he refuses. In this story, Kieslowski not only explores the relationship between parent and child, but also the relationship with identity when faced with an information that places a person in a different context: while Anka is willing to forget Michal, the father, and build a new relationship with Michal, the lover, he remains a person of integrity, since this information does not change anything in his relationship with her, and he decides to treat her as his daughter, regardless. A neglected, small, subtle touch is added by the fact that Anka is a student at the acting Academy, and that this whole segment may have been just her "method acting" experiment, reminiscent somewhat of a restructuring of Pirandello's "Six Characters in Search of an Author". All in all, a small jewel.

Part V changes the mood again, and offers something for thriller and crime fans. It is untypically cruel and bloody for Kieslowski's mentality, but gives a brilliant thesis on the 5th commandment "Thou shall not kill": not only is murder a shocking, devastating and psychologically-pervasively damaging to both the victim and the criminal - the taxi driver died as a being, while the criminal died as a human being - but it gets a new dimension when the author gives a critique at the whole state that allows a death penalty. To Kieslowski, when the state enforces a death penalty, even justifiably against such unsympathetic delinquents as the anti-hero, it is equivalent to the whole society killing. This segment is filmed in filtered, brown-gloomy colors, compatible to the worst deed someone can do, and engaged even those viewers who are otherwise unwilling to engage in philosophical films, without them even knowing they actually did, and that they have not just watched an ordinary crime-thriller. It is also shorter and far more effective in this edition, than in the overstretched "A Short Film About Killing". Part VI switches the mood further still, this time going into the genre of a (shy) erotic film. Since the commandment in question is "Thou shall not commit adultery", it gives a slightly lesser, but still an interesting essay about a postman, Tomek, who is attracted to his neighbor, Magda, until she disrupts this attraction by bellitelling love, and thus belliteling herself, as well, which causes a shift and she loses her attraction to him, which in the end seems as if she is sad that she lost a fan. Overall, another great contribution in Kieslowski opus.


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