Janus Films will release this spiritual masterwork by Polish director Krzsztof Kieslowski on the 20th anniversary of his death. His sobering and creative insights into the Ten Commandments are carried into our consciousness in a 10-part epic shot by nine different cinematographers. The music is provided by Zbigniew Preisner.
Polish film director Krzysztof Kieslowski created ten modern stories inspired by the Ten Commandments for television in 1988 - 1989. They all take place in the same high-rise Warsaw apartment complex, and some of the characters in one film show up peripherally in others. Only one-hour each, these stories are powerful and involving explorations of some of the deepest and most difficult complications of the human condition.
The director has found very creative and unusual angles on familiar themes, such as adultery and stealing, and put them before us in a variety of narrative styles, from somber tragedy to black comedy. Although the biblical commandments never appear on the screen, viewers will see the connections. Kieslowski has rendered an inestimable moral service by showing the relevance of these ancient principles and imperatives to contemporary life.
Here are links to our reviews of the 10 films:
About Krzysztof Kieslowski
Krzysztof Kieslowski (1941 - 1996) was Poland's leading director of documentaries, television, and feature films. He was especially interested in social and moral themes of contemporary times. One of his earliest works, Workers, focused on striking workers' states of mind. Hospital, a 1976 documentary, looked at the problems with health care in Poland.
In his later television and feature films, Kieslowski continued to use film techniques from his documentaries, giving these works a quality of raw realism. After catching the attention of the world with The Decalogue at the 1989 Venice Film Festival, he went on to make The Double Life of Veronique in 1992, about a French and a Polish woman who share the same name and experiences, and the "Three Colors" trilogy, Blue (1993) on liberty, White (1994) on equality, and Red (1994) on fraternity.
Kieslowski wrote as well as directed his films, collaborating with Polish lawyer Krzysztof Piesiewicz on most of his later works, including The Decalogue . The director had this to say about the thoughts behind their writing of The Decalogue.
"For 6,000 years, these rules have been unquestionably right. And yet we break them every day. People feel that something is wrong in life. There is some kind of atmosphere that makes people now turn to other values. They want to contemplate the basic questions of life, and that is probably the real reason for wanting to tell these stories."
"We knew that we had to find extreme, extraordinary situations for our characters, ones in which they would face difficult choices and make decisions which could not be taken lightly. And yet the films could not in any way be an account of ordinary life — on the contrary, they had to take the form of highly compact, steamlined bullets. it very quickly became clear that these would be films about feelings and passions, because we know that love, or the fear of death, or the pain caused by a needle-prick, are common to all people, irrespective of their political views, the color of their skin or their standard of living."
"Look through any window of a housing project; there are people behind them. If you look closely, there is something interesting going on at their place. In other words, in the interior of each person, there is something interesting. You simply have to remove the mask. Then we can remain together for a while."