Having rented the Krzysztof Kieslowski's Dekalog a few years ago I decided to pick up a copy and revisit them. If you don't know the series, Kieslowski and his writing partner Krzysztof Piesiewicz created a ten part television mini-series inspired by each of the ten commandments. What is astounding about the series is how it subtly explores the difficulties and complexities of human behaviour and morality. As simple as the commandments seem on paper, Kieslowski and Piesiewicz manage to delve into the grey areas and challenge our ideology of absolute morality. Life is difficult and the answers aren't always clear cut in simple rules.

Stanley Kubrick is said to have stated that the "Dekalog" was the only film masterpiece that he'd seen in his lifetime. After showing "Red", "White" and "Blue", one of my astute students suggested that Kubrick was heavily influenced by Kieslowski for his final film "Eyes Wide Shut" (an interesting proposition that I would love to see explored).

I highly recommend this series to all but particularly to film writers. Kieslowski's work is firmly planted in strong themes and ideas. I'll leave you with Stanley Kubrick's forward to the published screenplays of 'The Dekalog':

I am always reluctant to single out some particular feature of the work of a major filmmaker because it tends inevitably to simplify and reduce the work. But in this book of screenplays by Krzysztof Kieslowski and his co-author, Krzysztof Piesiewicz, it should not be out of place to observe that they have the very rare ability to dramatize their ideas rather than just talking about them. By making their points through the dramatic action of the story they gain the added power of allowing the audience to discover what's really going on rather than being told. They do this with such dazzling skill, you never see the ideas coming and don't realize until much later how profoundly they have reached your heart.

Stanley Kubrick
January 1991

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dekalog is film school in a box.

Stanley Kubrick was heavily influenced by Kieslowski's work. Kubrick's homage is gushing in "Eyes Wide Shut". I implore you to watch it and discover a scene where either Blue or Red is not prominent in a scene.

However, he turns their meaning on their head. Kubrick explores the more seedy depths of fraternity with secret societies. Look at how he stages the final dual between "hero" (Tom Cruise) and dragon (Sydney Pollack). The both of them revolve around a RED pool table, playing subtle games with homosexual subtexts.

His choice for blue is also rather startling. He often uses it to create a sense of warmth and security. This could be Kubrick's attempt to break the preordained molds of our psyche. It would make sense, seeing as Mars (red) is the coldest planet and Venus (blue) being the warmest.

Kieslowski and Kubrick were both technical experts, but at the same time they both branched away from the rules of cinema. And they proved they could do both and remain absolute successes.