Like most ten part mini-series', some segments of the Decalogue are better than others. I find the fifth gets gets much more praise then it deserves because it has "a point" (thou shalt not kill), and I think "Thou shalt not bear false witness" is wholly mediocre. Ten is amazing (thou shalt not covet thy neighbors goods), but there isn't much to talk about in it... it is about stamp collecting though, which is a reason to see the episode in itself.

The two episodes that really blow my hair back are the first (thou shalt have no god but me), and the sixth (thou shalt not covet thy neighbors wife), both of these episodes are discourses on vision and its relationship to human life.

The answer that the father in the first episode gives to his son's "what is death/what is left of people after we die" question, is really quite interesting. The Dad says that the memory is important, and then goes on to describe a number of noticable physical features about people (they smile a lot, a tooth is missing, etc.). The Father describes life after death as a film watched in people's memories.

This is followed by the boy looking at his father in parts. His father is teaching a class at a University, and the kid, standing behind something, adjusts himself so he can only see the fathers mouth, his eyes, his hands.

It is never fully stated that the boy dies, though we are nearly sure of it in the end. All that happens is that the boy goes from being visible to not being visible, a movement that is fully associated with the loss and the death of the boy. The boy, so to speak, is removed from the film, and from this we know he is dead.

There is a strange folding in of a reflexive idea in this episode. Memory(film) keeps you alive, but the removal from the film means death. Thus the boy is alive in the father's memory, but in the film he is dead. Perhaps we can say he is something other than physical, though still existant... after all there is a boy in the beginning of the second episode (in the church), who looks an awful lot like him (if anyone reads this and can confirm it is him, please tell me).

In the sixth episode a stalker decides he is in love with a woman by watching her. His love is completly absent from a desire to possess her though. He tells her that he does not want anything from her, or at least he does not know what he wants. The boy has simply become interested in watching her live her life, and find something strangely beautiful in it, that has gone far beyond his original sexual purpose.

She makes fun of him at first, but eventually changes her mind. She goes up to his room (after he has attempted suicide) and sees how he lives his life. In the scene where she is looking at the telescope he uses to look at her you can tell that she begins to understand that this is how a human lives his life, intertwined with hers. There is a connection based on a mutual knowledge of one another's privacy (a knowledge that is generally unaccessable except through peeping or through watching cinema).

There is a sense in this film that Kieslowski really belives cinema is a medium for transmitting love (as Bazin always liked to say). The episode though ends badly. With the two would-be lovers seperated by an emotional wall, and a glass with a circular hole framing the boy like a camera lens.

Buy The Decalogue

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