Monday, September 29, 2014

Dekalog, piec (TV)

The beauty of Kieślowski's films is that they are not humanist: they are human. The Dekalog series travels wide and far in its range of characters and lives, in its stories, so much that it is difficult to believe that one man can produce so much work of the highest quality, with the same themes echoing through such diverse multitude of humanity. This short film of less than one hour, the fifth part of the series, is at par with Victor Hugo's works in their human understanding and with Dostoyevsky's works in their plumbing to depths unexplored before. Can there be a higher praise for any creation than being said to carry both Hugo and Dostoyevsky in its womb?

This almost twenty-five-year-old film carries particular significance in today's society, where people often demand death penalty for those who commit rape or other crimes condemned by the system, or where there are those who are simply intellectually opposed to capital punishment, and yet have never bothered to think themselves as responsible when a crime has happened. And yet, isn't it they who are responsible? And yet, they have the temerity to judge, condemn and murder? The lawyer feels guilty because he was in the cafeteria when the condemned was toying with the rope, tortured by guilt, hate and the need of being loved and accepted.

We seek acceptance through conforming or rebellion, through declaring love or declaring hate, through creating or destroying. All expression, all communication is nothing but an attempt to seek acceptance, to seek respect, to seek a place. We seek it in people's hearts, in their memories, in their words, in their deeds. Sometimes, when we are too tired of seeking it there, we seek it even in a system. And when the system fails us, we hate not only the system but all those who comprise it. A film that raises questions about the moral tenets that society holds and keeps howling about, and raises doubts among each one of us about our duties, what we are doing, and if it is enough: it is not just life but it is the human spirit first of all that "Thou Shalt Not Kill."

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Dekalog, jeden (TV)

In the whole Dekalog series, and most impressively in its very first episode, Kieślowski again tackles the spiritual quest of mankind without invoking the necessity of religions, or even that of gods. The quest that is the result of human curiosity: that seeks to define and predict, that seeks to know instead of not know, and yet that finally knows more in knowing that not everything is to be, or can be, known. Lit up by a wonderful relationship between the precocious father-son duo of Pawel and Krzysztof, seldom seen in most cultures' films, the film finds easily a way into your heart and lodges there for ever. Maybe, that's a fault to contend with: in a film which conveys a deeply philosophical message, there is more sentimentality than many would usually like. But a sentimentality of the warm kind, of the intelligent kind: as if the bonding, both of love and of intelligence, between Pawel and Krzysztof is like the soft feathery flocons of snow that dreamily fall, defying meteorologists and the most accurate machines.

Systematically, as he would do in all his films, Kieślowski will be obsessed with the point of the view of the absent, of that that would have happened (had ...), of the irrealisable. Little shots throughout the Dekalog series, and throughout the master's oeuvre, will time and again remind the viewer: that the perception of the same event, the same circumstance can be different from the other side of the window, from outside, from another's eyes, from another world. And what if the circumstances had changed? Charts of destiny are again the drifting flocons of snow: and nothing can be predicted, nothing can be established as one definitive truth or good, and no theory or science or religion can be cherished as God save the actual love for and by Pawel. It is Love that says "I am Lord thy God, and thou shalt not have no other gods but Me." Only, it doesn't say (so, or anything): it is silent and pervasive.