This is part of a series of films based on the Biblical Ten Commandments: The
Decalogue. Kieslowski's modern parables trace, in the contemporary world, man's
tendency to transgress and to topple the moral foundations upon which rests human
Tom (19) covets an elder woman, Magdelene, with an obsession that acquires increasingly
frightening proportions. He watches her through binoculars, telephones her, rings
her doorbell, working as a milkman, spies upon her when her lovers visit her...
At the beginning of the film, Kieslowski dwells at length on the lovelessness
of the modern world, Magdelene's loveless sessions of love making and Tom's inability
to care for his landlady. Even Tom's love for Magdelene is undercut by his intrusion
into her private affairs. But when Magdelene begins her conversation with Tom,
the film slowly begins to retrieve the lost meaning of love: love that is devoid
of the distortions of modern living, love that holds life together.
In one of the definitive statements about the inherent voyeurism of the viewing
lens, the film deals with the voyeuristic quality of the cinema apparatus. Just
as the film is frightening in its emphasis upon this, so it is equally, if not
more, liberating in the reaffirmation of Kieslowski's faith in love and its necessity
in our daily life.
This double edge of the film is reflected in images that are amazingly precise
and that yet incorporate the blurring of the edges of the frame, and the use of
dark shadows. Kieslowski uses colors with their allegorical associations within
Christian theology and art practice, while using different degrees of saturation
Kieslowski is among those modern filmmakers who are least ambiguous about what
they want to say - the meaning of the parables in his Decalogue is exact. Only,
what they are speaking about is filled with the ambiguities and indecision of
the modern world. What Kieslowski seems to affirm at the end is that, despite
the voyeuristic qualities of the cinema apparatus or cinema narrative, genuine
artistic creation is possible through transcendence in love and self-realization.
Krzsysztot Kieslowski - A Profile
In the late 1970s, when the conflict between the State and the citizens of Poland
was imminent, a new trend emerged in cinematography - the "cinema of moral unrest".
Kieslowski is among the great filmmakers representing this tendency. Starting
with realist documentaries, he made his first feature film in 1979. Kieslowki's
work culminated in a TV cycle and two films, with subjects from the Ten Commandemnts.
A Short Film About Killing is based on the 5th commandment, while A Short Film
About Love comes from the sixth. Both films and the TV cycle are anchored in the
present, and express the necessity of a moral revival, both of the individual
and the society, in a world which may be determined by chance, but which does
not deliver us from the right and the duty of moral choice. More recently, he
has made the remarkable Three Colors trilogy.
Direction: Krzysztof Kieslowski
Cast: Grazyna Szapotowska (Magdalene), Olaf Lubaszenko (Tom)