Skip to main content

NOTES FROM UNDERGROUND

  And, indeed, I will ask on my own account here, an idle question: which is better—cheap happiness or exalted sufferings? Well, which is better?---Fyodor Dostoevsky ---Notes from Underground There are certain people of whom it is difficult to say anything which will at once throw them into relief—in other words, describe them graphically in their typical characteristics. These are they who are generally known as “commonplace people,” and this class comprises, of course, the immense majority of mankind. Authors, as a rule, attempt to select and portray types rarely met with in their entirety, but these types are nevertheless more real than real life itself. For instance, when the whole essence of an ordinary person’s nature lies in his perpetual and unchangeable commonplaceness; and when in spite of all his endeavours to do something out of the common, this person ends, eventually, by remaining in his unbroken line of routine—. I think such an individual really does become a type of hi

Short Film About Killing (1988)/DECALOGUE




The film is not easy to watch, being the story of a  young man who kills a taxi driver and is caught, brought to trial, condemned to death and executed. Both deaths are dreadful and depicted in details   
A Short Film About Killing, Krzysztof Kieslowski's powerful examination of the nature of murder, was a stunning success at the 1988 Cannes Film Festival, taking home the Jury prize. In the same year, the film also captured Europe's coveted Felix award. An extended version of Decalogue 5A Short Film About Killing was one of two features to spring from Kieslowski's ten-part television drama about applying the Ten Commandments to modern-day life (The other being A Short Film About Love ).

There are two murders in A Short Film About Killing: the killing of the cab driver, which runs slightly over seven minutes in length (may the longest murder in the history of cinema) and the execution of Jacek, a scene that lasts about five minutes and Kieslowski doesn't spare the audience any details. 

Jacek (Miroslaw Baka) climbs into the taxi driven by Waldemar (Jan Tesarz), tells him to drive to a remote location, then brutally strangles him seemingly without motive. He's soon arrested , with his only ally his idealist defense attorney , Piotr (Krzysztof Globisz) for whom this is the first case.  
Defending his client, Piotr throws himself into the trial, get emotionally connected to Jacek but but the outcome is never 
in doubt. 




"There are moments when you feel everything is possible" Piotr says to his girlfriend who he brought to cafe to celebrate passing the final exam and officially becoming lawyer certainly seems to be one of those moments for young Piotor. 
In the same cafe at the same time Jacek is eating the cake waiting for the police officer from the street to go away so he can go get available  taxi driver for ride in order to kill him. But there was nothing to be done there nor later during the trial , the destiny of the young Jacek seems to be written deep in the stone , as well as the one of the grumpy taxi driver Waldemar who would be alive had he picked the passenger he did not like few moments earlier.

On the other note the character of taxi driver Waldemar  is quite interestingly depicted  in this story and his love for "big dogs" and hate for the "small ones" is certainly something I can relate to . 






THE DECALOGUE

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, A 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.

Popular Posts