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Decalogue, The (1989)
Etymology: Middle English decaloge, from Late Latin decalogus, from Greek dekalogos, from deka- + logos word — more at LEGEND
Date: 14th century
1 capitalized : TEN COMMANDMENTS
2: a basic set of rules carrying binding authority.
Krzysztof Kieslowski's The Decalogue is a ten-part Polish serial made in 1989 for television, with each episode being 55 minutes in length. The common theme for this serial was that each episode would feature as moral lesson the consequences of breaking one of the Ten Commandments.
With each story Kieslowski has the opportunity to preach to us about sin and God, yet he chose to remain a storyteller of the dramatic, sometimes an observer, as his shooting style often expresses. This is not merely a ten-hour morality play that makes you wish you spent more time in church, these are stories rich with truth and life.
In most of his tales, the characters don't even acknowledge that a sin, or even an impropriety, has been committed. All of the stories told are based on real events, and The Decalogue was Kieslowski's way of expressing the observation - not the judgement - that we have forgotten the guiding moral principles taught to us in the Bible. Kieslowski has said "All my films, from the first to the most recent ones, are about individuals who can't quite find their bearings, who don't quite know how to live, who don't really know what's right or wrong and are desperately looking."
Etched into two stone tablets were the Ten Commandments, and in similar fashion we find the players of The Decalogue etched into the Polish landscape, living in two stone towers, apartment complexes side by side. In several episodes we find a Watcher, a young, voiceless man with piering eyes who observes the characters. We also frequently see other characters from other episodes, not only showing that these people live alongside one another, giving us a deeper context, but also sometimes the effect that sin, choice and consequence have after the events that lead up to them.
As you may have guessed, symbols are ever-prevalent in this serial, and my greatest joy that comes is watching the innocuous way Kieslowski's symbols add to all his tales, rather than being the message.
What was Kiselowski's ultimate message in this ten-hour series on sin, God and humanity?
"If I had to formulate the message of my Decalogue, I'd say, 'Live carefully, with your eyes open, and try not to cause pain'."
In honour of the Kieslowki Blog-A-Thon taking place over at Quiet Bubble, I've been reviewing each of the ten episodes of this fascinating look into the Polish everyday and the mind of a brilliant director. Just click on the links below for an indepth look at the complete list!
Thou Shalt Not Take The Name Of The Lord Thy God In Vain.
Remember The Sabbath Day, To Keep It Holy.