Dekalog

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Dekalog
Dekalog cover.jpg
Blu-ray box set cover
Directed by Krzysztof Kieślowski
Produced by Ryszard Chutkowski
Written by Krzysztof Kieślowski
Krzysztof Piesiewicz
Starring Artur Barciś
see below
Music by Zbigniew Preisner
Cinematography Wieslaw Zdort
Piotr Sobociński
Edited by Ewa Smal
Production
company
Distributed by Warner Bros. (Poland)
Release date
  • 10 December 1989 (1989-12-10)
Running time
572 minutes
Country Poland
Language Polish
Budget $100,000 (all parts)
Box office $447,093[1]

Dekalog (pronounced [dɛˈkalɔg], also known as Dekalog: The Ten Commandments and The Decalogue) is a 1989 Polish television drama series directed by Krzysztof Kieślowski[2] and co-written by Kieślowski with Krzysztof Piesiewicz, with music by Zbigniew Preisner.[3] It consists of ten one-hour films, inspired by the decalogue of the Ten Commandments.[4] Each short film explores characters facing one or several moral or ethical dilemmas as they live in an austere housing project in 1980´s Poland.

The series is Kieślowski's most acclaimed work,[5] was said in 2002 to be "the best dramatic work ever done specifically for television"[6] and has won numerous international awards, though it was not widely released outside Europe until the late 1990s.[7] In 1991, filmmaker Stanley Kubrick wrote an admiring foreword to the published screenplay.[8]

Production[edit]

The series was conceived when screenwriter Krzysztof Piesiewicz, who had seen a 15th-century artwork illustrating the Commandments in scenes from that time period, suggested the idea of a modern equivalent. Filmmaker Krzysztof Kieślowski was interested in the philosophical challenge, and also wanted to use the series as a portrait of the hardships of Polish society, while deliberately avoiding the political issues he had depicted in earlier films. He originally meant to hire ten different directors, but decided to direct the films himself. He used a different cinematographer for each episode except III and IX, in both of which Piotr Sobociński was director of photography.[9]

The large cast includes both famous and unknown actors, many of whom Kieślowski also used in his other films. Typically for Kieślowski, the tone of most of the films is melancholic, except for the final one, which is a black comedy, featuring two of the same actors, Jerzy Stuhr and Zbigniew Zamachowski, as inThree Colors: White.[citation needed]

Themes[edit]

The ten films are titled simply by number, e.g. Dekalog: One. According to film critic Roger Ebert's introduction to the DVD set, Kieślowski said that the films did not correspond exactly to the commandments, and never used their names himself.[10] Though each film is independent, most of them share the same setting in Warsaw, and some of the characters are acquainted with each other.[citation needed] Each short film explores characters facing one or several moral or ethical dilemmas as they live in a large housing project in 1980´s Poland.[3] The themes can be interpreted in many different ways; however, each film has its own literality:[11]

Commandment (Roman Catholic Enumeration) Ideal Kieślowskian Theme
I am the Lord thy God... thou shalt not have other gods before me. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image... Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them. The sanctity of God and worship Idolization of science
Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain. The sanctity of speech Names as fundamental to identify and moral choice; the importance of one's word in human life.
Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. The sanctity of time Time designations (holidays, day/night etc.) as repositories of meaning
Honor thy father and thy mother. The sanctity of authority Family and social relationship as regulators of identity
Thou shalt not kill. The sanctity of life Murder and punishment
Thou shalt not commit adultery. The sanctity of love The nature and relation of love and passion
Thou shalt not steal. The sanctity of dominion Possession as human need and temptation
Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor. The sanctity of truth The difficulties of truth amid desperate evil
Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife. The sanctity of contentment Sex, jealousy, and faithfulness
Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's goods. The sanctity of contentment Greed and relationships

Recurring character of Artur Barciś[edit]

A nameless character played by Polish actor Artur Barciś appears in all but episodes 7 and 10. He observes the main characters at key moments, and never intervenes. He is possibly meant to be a supernatural figure.[citation needed]

Episode Character played by Artur Barciś
Dekalog: One A homeless man sitting by a fire near the lake
Dekalog: Two An orderly in the hospital
Dekalog: Three A tram driver
Dekalog: Four A man rowing a boat and later seen carrying the boat
Dekalog: Five A construction worker holding a measuring pole and then as a different construction worker carrying a ladder
Dekalog: Six A man carrying bags of groceries
Dekalog: Seven Does not appear (Barciś was meant to be a man at the railway station, but Kieślowski experienced technical difficulties to include him in this episode)[12]
Dekalog: Eight A student at the university
Dekalog: Nine A man riding a bicycle
Dekalog: Ten Does not appear

Milk[edit]

Milk is a recurring element in the following 7 episodes:

Episode Occurrence of milk in The Decalogue
Dekalog: One The milk is sour.
Dekalog: Two The doctor goes to buy milk.
Dekalog: Four Michał leaves the house to buy milk.
Dekalog: Six Tomek becomes a milkman. Magda spills milk on the table.
Dekalog: Seven Ewa tries to breastfeed Ania without any milk. Wojtek tells Majka that Ania needs a home with milk.
Dekalog: Eight There is an unopened bottle of milk on the table while Zofia and Elżbieta are having dinner.
Dekalog: Nine Roman is pouring milk while watching a child play.

Cast and cinematography by episode[edit]

Episode Cast Cinematography
Dekalog: One Henryk Baranowski
Wojciech Klata
Maja Komorowska
Wiesław Zdort
Dekalog: Two Krystyna Janda
Aleksander Bardini
Olgierd Łukaszewicz
Edward Klosiński
Dekalog: Three Daniel Olbrychski
Maria Pakulnis
Joanna Szczepowska
Piotr Sobociński
Dekalog: Four Adrianna Biedrzyńska
Janusz Gajos
Adam Hanuszkiewicz
Krzysztof Pakulski
Dekalog: Five Mirosław Baka
Jan Tesarz
Krzysztof Globisz
Sławomir Idziak
Dekalog: Six Olaf Lubaszenko
Grażyna Szapołowska
Witold Adamek
Dekalog: Seven Anna Polony
Maja Barełkowska
Katarzyna Piwowarczyk
Dariusz Kuc
Dekalog: Eight Teresa Marczewska
Maria Kościałkowska
Andrzej Jaroszewicz
Dekalog: Nine Ewa Błaszczyk
Piotr Machalica
Jan Jankowski
Piotr Sobociński
Dekalog: Ten Jerzy Stuhr
Zbigniew Zamachowski
Jacek Bławut

Reception[edit]

Dekalog was admired by critics and important figures from the film industry, such as Stanley Kubrick.[13]

The DVD box issue held 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes[when?] based on 28 reviews.[14][dead link] The series was praised by renowned film critics, including Roger Ebert[10] and Robert Fulford.[6]

In the 2002 Sight & Sound poll to determine the greatest films of all time, Dekalog and A Short Film About Killing received votes from 4 critics and 3 directors, including Ebert, New Yorker critic David Denby, and director Mira Nair.[15] Additionally, in the Sight & Sound poll held the same year to determine the top 10 films of the previous 25 years, Kieslowski was named #2 on the list of Top Directors, with votes for his films being split between Dekalog, Three Colors Red/Blue, and The Double Life of Veronique.[16]

In 2002, the film was listed among the Top 100 "Essential Films" of all time by the National Society of Film Critics[17] and ranked #36 in Empire magazine's "The 100 Best Films Of World Cinema" in 2010.[18]

According to online film resource They Shoot Pictures, Don't They?, Dekalog is the most acclaimed film of 1988.[19]

Longer feature films[edit]

Kieślowski expanded Five and Six into longer feature films (A Short Film About Killing and A Short Film About Love), using the same cast and changing the stories slightly. This was part of a contractual obligation with the producers, since feature films were easier to distribute outside Poland.[citation needed] In 2000, the series was released on five DVDs, each containing two parts of about 2 hours.[citation needed]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Dekalog (1989) - Box office / business". Internet Movie Database. Amazon.com. 2000-11-27. Retrieved 2012-05-27. 
  2. ^ Biography of Krysztof Kieślowski, www.facets.org, n.d., retrieved 6 June2017
  3. ^ a b JOSHUA TANZERA Perfect 10. Series overview Offoff.com, THE GUIDE TO ALTERNATIVE NEW YORK, JANUARY 20, 2001, retrieved 6 June 2017
  4. ^ Ten Commandments catholic-resources.org, n.d.
  5. ^ "Krzysztof Kieślowski's Acclaimed Films". They Shoot Pictures, Don't They. Retrieved December 30, 2016. 
  6. ^ a b Fulford, Robert Kieslowski's magnificent Decalogue The National Post, 14 May 2002, retrieved 6 June 2017
  7. ^ Critical response on www.facets.org
  8. ^ Stanley Kubrick review of the film on www.visual-memory.co.uk
  9. ^ Behind the Camera: Poland’s Best Cinematographers www.facets.org, n.d., retrieved 6 June2017
  10. ^ a b Robert Ebert The Decalogue movie and film review, rogerebert.suntimes.com, 2 April 2000, retrieved 6 June 2017
  11. ^ Kickasola, Joseph G. (2006). The Films of Krzysztof Kieślowski:The Liminal Image. Continuum (Bloomsbury Publishing). p. 164. ISBN 978-0-826-41559-2. Retrieved 30 March 2014. 
  12. ^ Stok, Danusia, ed. (1993). Kieślowski on Kieślowski. London: Faber and Faber. ISBN 0-571-17328-4
  13. ^ Decalogue reviews www.facets.org, n.d. retrieved 6 June 2017
  14. ^ Dekalog at Rotten Tomatoes
  15. ^ 2002 Sight & Sound Poll - All who voted for Dekalog
  16. ^ Modern Times Archived 7 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine.
  17. ^ Carr, Jay (2002). The A List: The National Society of Film Critics' 100 Essential Films. Da Capo Press. p. 81. ISBN 978-0-306-81096-1. Retrieved 27 July 2012. 
  18. ^ "The 100 Best Films Of World Cinema | 36. Dekalog". Empire. 
  19. ^ "The 1,000 Greatest Films (Full List)". They Shoot Pictures, Don't They?. 

External links[edit]