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DECALOGUE 5 & 6, THE (aka: DEKALOG) (aka: THE TEN COMMANDMENTS) (Polish TV) (director/writer: Krzysztof Kieslowski; screenwriter: Krzysztof Piesiewicz; editor: Ewa Smal; music: Zbigniew Preisner; Runtime: 560; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Ryszard Chutkowski; Facets; 1989-Poland-in Polish with English subtitles)
“Brilliant and moving, a masterpiece about the fragility of human nature.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Polish director Krzysztof Kieslowski’s (“Blind Chance”/”A Short Film About Love”/”The Double Life of Veronique”) 10-hour Polish television serial based on The Ten Commandments. Kieslowski is cowriter with Krzysztof Piesiewicz. It’s brilliant and moving, a masterpiece about the fragility of human nature.

5-“Thou shalt not kill.”

cinematographer: Krystof Pakulski; Runtime: 57; cast: Miroslaw Baka (Jacek Lazar), Krzysztof Globisz (Piotr Balicki), Jan Tesarz (taxi-driver).

A mentally troubled 20-year-old country boy named Jacek Lazar (Miroslaw Baka) wanders aimlessly around Warsawand randomly and brutally by strangulation with a cord murders a cabbie (Jan Tesarz). At his trial he’s defended by a young new idealistic lawyer, Piotr Balicki (Krzysztof Globisz), who doesn’t believe in capital punishment. Jacek is found guilty and is brutally executed by hanging. Kieslowski shows how both acts were brutal, one a crime and one legitimized by the state. The taking of lives in these acts show that Polish society doesn’t obey the commandment “Thou shalt not kill.” It’s a powerful and raw film, that in an even-handed way asks if anyone has the right to kill. Kieslowski has presented an unanswerable argument in the cause of how to serve justice, in a film that gives both sides many things to ponder.

6-Thou shalt not commit adultery.”

cinematographer: Slawomir Loziak; Runtime: 58; cast: Grazyna Szapolowska (Magda), Olaf Lubaszenko (Tomek), Stefania Iwinska (godmother), Piotr Machalica (Magda’s boyfriend).

Tomek (Olaf Lubaszenko) is a 19-year-old loner post office worker living with the elderly mother (Stefania Iwinska) of his friend, who is living abroad. He’s obsessed with spying on his attractive promiscuous older woman neighbor Magda(Grazyna Szapolowska) for the last year, first using opera glasses and then a telescope to peer into her window from his apartment across the courtyard of her hi-rise building. Eventually circumstances make it necessary for him to confess to Magda, and the woman is first annoyed and then out of curiosity plays games with him as he tells her he loves her. It leads to his slitting wrists and surviving, as he feels love is more than just having sex.

Kieslowski expanded this short story into a full-length theatrical version called A Short Film About Love. It seems to be also about loneliness, being disillusioned and making a connection with another being, as it is an offbeat and telling love story.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”