The Decalogue (Dekalog)

The Decalogue

I am ready.

Stanley Kubrick once remarked that there had been only one masterpiece of film made during his lifetime: Krzysztof Kieslowski’s Decalogue. The film is actually a series of ten films, each about an hour long, and each based around one of the Ten Commandments. Simple, yes, and like most simple ideas (but not all), it makes for compelling viewing.

Each film meanders along, taking its time and care with its vision, which normally would be boring and stagnant but here makes the series fluid and lovingly crafted. It’s hard to imagine this film, and thus it is also hard to talk about, especially how the film is so wonderfully made. The best I can do is provide metaphors; the film is like a finely woven tapestry, or a sumptuous culinary work of art – you can’t place why it is so good, because all the parts are so perfectly melded together. The film is very simply made, but beautifully done when you really pay attention to the detail. All the pieces are exemplary, from the fundamental acting to the measured cinematography to the purposeful editing, and beyond.

The book’s info lists only the first film (Dekalog, Jeden), but the description covers the whole series, so to really get the full effect, you should watch all ten films, though it’s not necessary to watch them all back to back. Each has its own story, and aside from the characters living in the same apartment block are only loosely connected, so you don’t even have to watch them in order, though it helps. An amusing little game is to watch each film with no knowledge and try to guess which commandment the story is inspired from. Either way you watch it, this is definitely a masterpiece, and one you should certainly take the time to see at some point in your life.

Arbitrary Rating: 10/10


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