Sunday, August 28, 2016

DEKALOG (1989)

Deep down, in my heart of hearts, Krzysztof Kieslowski might well be my favorite filmmaker. I can't think of a director whose work I find more beguiling, more entrancing, and, ultimately, more human.

I think his greatest accomplishment is the so-called Colors Trilogy: BLUE (1993), WHITE (1994), and RED (1994). BLUE has particular resonance for me. Juliette Binoche's attempt to cut all ties to humanity following the death of her husband and child is one of cinema's most powerful explorations of the terrible weight of our connections to other people. It is a film that means more to me the older I get.

The Colors Trilogy would be enough to lift any director into the highest rank of filmmakers, but extraordinarily enough Kieslowski has another multi-part masterpiece that many people consider his greatest work. 

The DEKALOG is a ten-part series that was originally shown on Polish television in 1989. Each one-hour episode explores one of the Ten Commandments, and while some (like Murder or Adultery) are fairly straight forward in their story lines, others (like the injunction to keep the Sabbath) are more opaque. What unites all the episodes is a mastery of style and storytelling. None of the films are preachy in the slightest, and if you were to see the series without knowing the Ten Commandments framing device you might not even make the connection. Instead, you would simply see a series of films that present vividly drawn characters caught up in intriguing moral quandaries. 

The DEKLOG is being released in a new set by the Criterion Collection and will be shown in select theaters, two episodes at a time. I've got my weekend planned around the DEKALOG because my beloved Music Box Theater will be showing the series starting Friday, September 2nd.

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