"Live carefully, with your eyes open, and try not to cause pain."
Krzysztof Kieslowski (b. June 27, 1941 in Warsaw, Poland -- d. March 13, 1996) was one of the most important European film directors of modern era .
Kieslowski graduated from the Lodz Film School in 1968 (the famed Polish film school which also has Roman Polanski and Andrzej Wajda among its alumni) and began his film career making documentaries that were both artistic and political and aimed to awaken social consciousness. 
Despite becoming noticed by travelling critics and festival directors for Personnel, The Scar and in particular Camera Buff, a satirical critique of political censorship in Poland, no one was prepared for the brilliance of his Dekalog, loosely based on the Ten Commandments, which hit the festival circuit some 10 years later.
These ten films, of less than an hour each, were filmed in the same suburb of Warsaw and with many of the same characters in each story. Most of them said more in that time than many film makers can suggest in a dozen full-length features.Two of them - A Short Film About Killing and A Short Film About Love - were extended into superb features and won festival awards which encouraged the French to take him up. All his other four films were produced in France and each won further awards, though a blow to Kieslowski's esteem came when Three Colours: Red his magnificent last film, was given nothing at Cannes in 1994 while Quentin Tarentino's Pulp Fiction won the coveted Palme D'Or.
Kieślowski retired from film-making with a public announcement after the premiere of his last film Red at the 1994 Cannes Film Festival. 
Just under two years after announcing his retirement, Krzysztof Kieślowski died on 13 March 1996 at age 54 during open-heart surgery following a heart attack
Although he had only come into worldwide prominence in the last few years with the brilliant ten-part Dekalog, The Double Life Of Veronique and the trilogy, Three Colours Red, White and Blue, Kieslowski had been working in cinema for almost 30 years, first as a highly original and imaginative documentarist and then as a feature film director.

Collaboration with Krzysztof Piesiewicz

In 1984, he began a longtime writing collaboration with Polish lawyer, Krzysztof Piesiewicz with No EndDecalogue, was co-written with Piesiewicz as well as well as  screenplays for 17 other films directed by Krzysztof Kieslowski

Collaboration with Zbigniew Preisner

THree Colours Trilogy marked the culmination a decade of collaborations between director Krzysztof Kieslowski and composer Zbigniew Preisner. Their film work is characterised by musical moments which illuminate the story and open up channels of interpretation between the work and the audience. These are cinematic narratives – as Stanley Kubrick once said of Kieslowski's The Decalogue – which dramatise ideas, rather than merely talk about them. Preisner's music is central to that process. 



First Love (1974) depicted seven months in the life of a married couple, from four months into the wife’s pregnancy to two months after the child’s birth. Kieslowski orchestrated some of the situations—all of them intended as events which would otherwise naturally occur in daily life—in order to capture the participant’s unscripted responses. 
Curriculum Vitae (1975) was a record of the Party Control Committee, an authoritative Party commission which monitored Party members and accepted or revoked their standing through informal trials. Kieslowski boldly mixed fact and fiction by selecting a real committee and having them “assess” an actor with an invented life history (who was, incidentally, played by an engineer who had actually been evicted from the Party at one point in his life). 


Camera Buff (1979) garnered Kieslowski’s first Eastern international acclaim by winning the Grand Prix at the Moscow International Film Festival. Stylistically, the film builds intensity through Jerzy Stuhr’s nuanced lead performance and the representation of Poland’s amateur film culture as a reflection of larger socio-economic issues. Factory worker Filip Mosz (Stuhr) purchases an 8mm camera in order to record images of his newborn daughter but his company Director (Stefan Czyzewski) places him in charge of making propaganda films for the factory. The assignment thrusts Mosz into learning the craft of filmmaking and he finds himself obsessed with it, starting a film club in an unused cellar (and inviting Zanussi himself as guest of honor), assembling a team of assistants, sending his work to a local amateur festival, and securing a contract with television.


The Decalogue(1988). Initially made for Polish television with the idea of selecting ten different filmmakers to direct each one-hour episode—two of them to be expanded into theatrical features—Kieslowski and Piesiewicz began to “suspect intuitively that Decalogue could be marketed abroad.” Indeed, the series, which Kieslowski ultimately directed with nine different cinematographers, became a critical sensation on the festival circuit and served as the West’s first major exposure to his work.
The Decalogue films are noted for their tight dramatic constructions, vividly rendered characters, and emotionally resonant ethical dilemmas depicting characters attempting to live in the modern world according to (or in search of) presupposed ideals. Although Biblical in theme, the series’ only explicit foray into theological meaning occurs in Decalogue: One, with its heart-rending story of a father dependent upon rationality and technology who is devastated by his son’s illogical death. In a striking image, the father (played by Henryk Baranowski) knocks over an altar in grief, causing a candle to drip down the face a Virgin Mary icon like paraffin tears—an enigmatic and yet wholly appropriate beginning to a series confronting the harsh realities of daily life in dialectical relationship to its metaphysical values.
Kieslowski chose Decalogue: Five and the Ministry of Arts and Culture (who funded the series) chose Decalogue: Six as the two episodes to be expanded into features entitled, respectively, Short Film About Killing and A Short Film About Love 

Ten commandments, 10 films. Krzysztof Kieslowski sat for months in his small, smoke-filled room in Warsaw writing the scripts with a lawyer he’d met in the early 1980s, during the Solidarity trials. Krzysztof Piesiewicz didn’t know how to write, the director remembered, but he could talk. For hours they talked about Poland in turmoil, and together they wrote the screenplay for “No End” (1985), which told three stories of life under martial law. The government found it unsympathetic, the opposition found it compromised, and the Catholic church found it immoral. During the controversy, the collaborators ran into each other in the rain, and Piesiewicz, maybe looking for more trouble, shouted, “Someone should make a film about the Ten Commandments.”

They made 10 films, each an hour long, for Polish television. The series ran in the late 1980s, played at Venice and other film festivals, and gathered extraordinary praise. But the form was ungainly for theatrical showing (do you ask audiences to sit for 10 hours, or come for five two-hour sessions?), and “The Decalogue” never had an ordinary U.S. theatrical run, nor was it available here on video. Now, at last, it is being released in North America on tapes and DVD discs.

The 10 films are not philosophical abstractions but personal stories that involve us immediately; I hardly stirred during some of them. After seeing the series, Stanley Kubrick observed that Kieslowski and Piesiewicz “have the very rare ability to dramatize their ideas rather than just talking about them.” Quite so. There is not a moment when the characters talk about specific commandments or moral issues. Instead, they are absorbed in trying to deal with real-life ethical challenges.

Full review by Roger Ebert

Zbigniew Preisner soundtrack - Dekalog V/ Kieslowski


As Poland focused on transitioning to a capitalist society, Kieslowski took advantage of his growing international notoriety to begin a series of lavish international co-productions with much larger budgets and worldwide distribution than before. Noting that a solid majority of The Double Life of Véronique—with its story of a Polish woman and her mystically connected French soul mate—occurs in France and that the tables are turned in 1994′s White, where the majority of the film is set in Poland, Paul Coates writes: “If co-production is the superstructural, ideal reflection of the integrated [European Union] base, the reflection must crack to mirror the state of the soil from which it rises” and thus “germinates doubts about the real equality of ‘East’ and ‘West’, the relative marketability of different cultures.” 
So far removed from political realities is Double Life that the only hint of the social chaos raging in Poland serves as the backdrop for a chance meeting between Weronika and Véronique (both played by Irène Jacob) in the streets of Warsaw. Véronique, happily taking pictures of a political demonstration from inside a tour bus, doesn’t even notice Weronika standing mystified at the sight of her spiritual double, and the tightness of the framing and dramatic cutting between the two women as the bus drives away reduces the surrounding tumult to atmosphere.
In fact, Double Life is, in many ways, a passionate celebration of intuitive thinking in and of itself and the interconnectivity of emotions generated by music, performance, and beautiful cinematography. A glittering tone poem with a careful arrangement of narrative patterns and details that remain remote, it’s certainly Kieslowski’s most abstracted and poetic film. Whether or not it offers any deeper meaning beyond its own amber-hued surfaces probably depends more on one’s interior predilections and aesthetic convictions than any explicit content on Kieslowski’s part.
Although No End and various Decalogues involved female protagonists, Double Life also showcases Kieslowski’s late emphasis on actresses in more progressive feminist terms. At least one commentator, Alicja Helman, groups the female protagonists of Kieslowski’s late films (sans White) in a positive light:
Three Colors trilogy
Kieslowski’s last three films, presented as a loose trilogy based on the colours and corresponding ideals of the French flag are resolutely interpreted within the framework of the interior life (Blue: freedom, White: equality,Red: fraternity). In many ways, the series is an artful summation of his career: an emphasis on the individual’s life and his or her relationship to an ideal, a nuanced and even playful approach to narrative, the paradoxes of chance and fate, the interconnectiveness of lives, and a central importance given to art and performance (both public and private). Although Red (1994) initially received the most acclaim of the three films, Blue is a magnificent achievement that has steadily developed its share of vocal proponents over the years.
The subject of Blue is every bit as metaphysical as Double Life, but it is rooted in a more accessible narrative concerning Julie (Juliet Binoche), who survives an automobile accident in which her husband, a famous composer, and their daughter are killed. The film details Julie’s subsequent desire to free herself of all emotional attachments and manages to clarify her perspective with a vivid representation of interior life. Flashes of creative reveries coincide with screen fades and bursts of suppressed music, stylised subjective shots (sunlight traversing a Paris cafe table, the world reflected through a spoon, the gradual absorption of coffee through a sugar cube) include the viewer in Julie’s private world. Through Kieslowski’s subtle plotting, however, like tentative roots from a sapling, Julie slowly reconnects to life through a developing compassion for others and her growing artistic compulsions. It’s a graceful evocation of the inescapable force of love and art upon the soul and the paradoxical joys to be found in sacrifice, boundaries, and emotional commitment.

White is a return to the dark humor and irony reminiscent of Decalogue: Ten with its story of Karol (Zbigniew Zamachowski), an impotent Polish man whose French wife, Dominique (Julie Delphy), divorces him. This sets in motion Karol’s elaborate plot to regain equality in their relationship, though the scheme he hatches verges on revenge and thus ensures a tragic combination of love and separation. (Quoting a Polish proverb, Kieslowski remarked, “There are those who are equal and those who are more equal,” suggesting equality is a fleeting and imperfect ideal.)  However, the film suffers in comparison to Blue and Red—the cool machinations of its protagonist (as well as its storytelling) often seem manipulative and superficial, but Kieslowski’s pessimistic wit shines throughout.
In contrast, a large aspect of the beauty of Red is its generosity of spirit and apparent self-critique of Kieslowski’s own temperament and preoccupations. A genuinely kind and hopeful model, Valentine (Irène Jacob), accidentally injures the dog of a disillusioned, retired judge named Joseph (Jean-Louis Trintignant) who sits in his Geneva home and coolly monitors the telephone conversations of his neighbors. The clash of worldviews between the two characters—illustrated through a series of sensitively wrought conversations which begin confrontationally and end compassionately—illustrate a potent dialectic between cynicism and idealism, the rational deconstruction of Kieslowski’s films versus the uplift of his late sensitive humanism. 
The film delights in a labyrinth of double lives and chance occurrences which threads a connective line between Joseph and a younger law student, whose tragic romantic life simultaneously mirror’s Joseph’s past and projects Valentine’s possible future.
After Kieslowski completed Red, he announced his retirement at the age of 52. He was exhausted from having completed the trilogy in a staggered, accelerated time frame (at one point, he was editing Blue, shootingWhite, and writing Red concurrently) and claimed frustration at the film medium for its inability to portray the inner life. (“Literature can achieve this, cinema can’t,” he said, “It’s not intelligent enough.