Krzysztof Kieslowski has fashioned a cinematic masterpiece. This collection of ten films is a work of supreme daring, imagination, and sheer brilliance, riveting and profound. Each of the films uses one of The Ten Commandm... more »ents as a thematic springboard. As the films in "The Decalogue" were completed, they awed audiences at film festivals worldwide. The best actors, cinematographers and film technicians joined Kieslowski and his co writer and long time collaborator Krzysztof Piesiewicz in these extraordinary stories. The experience of watching "The Decalogue" is so compelling and powerful that film critic Kenneth Turan wrote that to see it was "nothing less than a privilege."« less
L. Shirley | fountain valley, ca United States | 09/26/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This review refers to the newly re-released (Aug/19/2003)Special Edition DVD Complete Set(3 discs) of "The Decalogue"......
Ten Hours of Krzysztof Kieslowski's brillant work and Zbiginew Preisner's mesmerizing music...what else is there in life? I know there's more... but for ten hours you can enter the world of Kieslowski and forget any other exists! Now you don't have to watch them all at once, you can take an hour or two at a time and just immerse yourself. In the enlightening introduction by the very insightful Roger Ebert.Roger himself says that these films should be viewed one by one and given a chance to be talked about and absorbed. That's probably best..but sorry Roger, I became hooked after the first one and couldn't stop. Each one I viewed became my new favorite.
"The Decalogue" is a series of ten 1 hour films Kieslowski, together with his esteemed writing partner Krzysztof Piesiewicz,wrote for Polish Television in the mid 80's. Each film is based on the Ten Commandents, but are not relgious or politcal in nature. Each tells the story of modern day people, with modern day moral dilemmas that may fall into the catagories of the Commandments.Orignally Kieslowski had planned for some new and up and coming directors to film each of the series(or as he calls them...a set), but after seeing the final scripts, couldn't resist directing them all himself. What he did however, was to have a different and respected filmographer shoot each of the films. So we get very different looks at each story. And..we are also treated to a score by his illustrious composer Zbigniew Preisner in each one as well.
Here is a little about each film,which by the way are all set in a huge apartment complex, each neighbor with their own story:
DEC I..."I am the Lord thy God. Thou shalt have no other Gods before me".....A father and son are computer buffs. They have figured out the freezing tempature of a nearby lake and how long it will take to thaw....it must be right...the computer said so..but nature steps in and all is not as it should be.
DEC II."Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in Vain".....A woman's husband lays dying in a hospital, she is pregnant by another man..she puts the Doctor in the unenviable postion of having to tell her whether her husband will live or die..the fate of the fetus rests on his words.
DEC III..."Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it Holy"...A married man spends Christmas Eve driving around with his ex-lover trying to help her make things right in her life.
DEC IV..."Honor Thy Mother and Father"....Anka discovers her father is not her biological father. How will this change their relationship?
DEC V..."Thou shalt not kill"...a much discussed and controversial film of Kieslowski's in which the Death Penalty goes on trial.
DEC VI ..."Though shalt Not Commit adultery"...A young man becomes obssessed with a woman he has been spying on.The consequences are tradgic.
DEC VII.."Thou shalt not steal"..Little Ania is being brought up by her grandmother, but doesnt know that her real mother is actually her sister. Can a mother "kidnap" her own daughter?
DEC XIII..."Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor"...A Jewish war survivor from America, travels to Poland to talk to the person who refused her a hiding place.
DEC IX..."Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife"....Roman, loves his young wife dearly and she loves him, but he is impotent and encourages her to have an affair.Then is devasted and obssessive when he finds out she went through with it.
DEC X..."Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's goods"....This one adds a little comic relief to the set. Two brothers have inherited their father's very valuable stamp collection, and go to great lengths to protect it.
If you are a fan of Kieslowski or are looking for something in the way of fine filmmaking..look no further, this is a must own set. And if you already know the style of this great director, don't be surprised if some characters or their stories turn up by happenstance in others of the series.
Keeping in mind that these films were made for Polish Television in the 80's, I would have to say that the transfer to DVD's is very good. You wont find the crystal clarity or lush colors of films done by the big studios, but these films were more than enjoyable to view(DEC V seemed not quite up to the others though)The sound,including the dialouge, music and all background effects were crisp and audible. Along with the introduction by Roger Ebert, you will also find three nice features..."On the Set With the Decalogue", "Kieslowski Meets the Press"..(I felt privileged to be able to listen his views on this one), and a tribute from his colleagues after his death entitled.."Kieslowski: Known and Unknown" There are translators for these. The subititles are nice and clear(and may only be watched with them), and it includes a nice informative booklet which also includes the cast and crew of each film in the set.
Ahhhhhhhh..."The Decalogue"...go for it before it goes out of print(again)....it's wonderful....Laurie
also recommended: Three Colors Trilogy (Red / White / Blue) [Import](All-region)(Remastered)
Red: Bande Originale Du Film
White: Bande Originale Du Film
Bleu: Bande Originale Du Film"
L. Shirley | 03/13/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If you've seen Sopranos on HBO, you will know why people respond so strongly to that television show--it is so deeply rooted in the reality of OUR world while ostensibly being about the New Jersey mafia syndicate. Watching the Sopranos for the first time, I thought about the Decalogue because it created that same sense of recognition and identification for me when I watched it several years ago in college. Being from Eastern Europe, I was used to the dark tone and strong irony of its cinema, however, the Kielowski series presented a much more profound and universal examination of Europeans and their value system than the usual fare. Kieslowski suffuses the series with the spirit of moral and cultural awakening and sophistication that seemed to be sweeping Europe at the time. The series is also seen as a precursor to his much more disingenuous and sardonic colors trilogy that came in the 90's. What upsets me about Decalogue is that it starts out stronger than it finishes. The first few episodes (1,4,5 especially) have an emotional purity and resonance that is matched by few full-length movies I've seen. In later episodes, Kieslowski's technique and writing improve but the themes lack the initial urgency and depth of perspective. In all, though DC is a great series that must be seen to be appreciated. My favorite episode is #4, based on the commandment "honor thy father and thy mother". It is about a college student who discovers a letter from her dead mother informing her, prematurely, that the man she thinks is her father is not. This opens the way to the girl's suppressed attraction to her father figure, which is examined with such frankness and intimacy that you wonder how the director fit it all into 50 minutes. Having said this, I also want to say that I have not given anything away by revealing the initial incident--there are so many reverses in this one that it leaves you guessing and tantalized. What surprises me is the amount of material and all the themes that Kieslowski worked into the episode. Among other things, the story is about the girl finally trying out her acting skills. See it and you'll be amased. I would also recommend seeing Philip Kaufman's "The Unbearable Lightness of Being" concurrently or soon after this series. It introduces some of the same themes as the Decalogue and does it in the framework of the novel by Milan Kundera, which, to my mind, is as sophisticated and as incisive as the Decalogue"
Wing J. Flanagan | Orlando, Florida United States | 09/04/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"There are so few films - even ones that I would give 4- and 5-star ratings - worthy of study as literature, that it is a somewhat overwhelming experience to watch Krzystof Kieslowski's The Decalogue and realize that he managed to make ten of them. Yes, they are of varying quality; there are better and worse films in the series. But they are all, without fail, thought-provoking; deeply stirring. In retrospect, I am almost ashamed of the four stars I recently gave Hannibal - but I was applying a vastly different standard to that film. Compared with the usual Hollywood drek, it was quite good, with its cheeky fusion of low-brow grand guignol and smart literary references. Compared with The Decalogue...well, it would deserve negative stars.Originally seen on Polish television, The Decalogue consists of ten hour-long films that each illuminate one of the Ten Commandments. "Illuminate" is the right word, too. No simple-minded Sunday-school lessons, these. The films of The Decalogue set up the sort of difficult moral dilemmas people face in the real world - the kind of dilemmas that turn seemingly simple choices into profoundly difficult matters of conscience, where every possible path seems shrouded in the gray mist of uncertainty. Big issues like abortion, the death penalty, religious faith, and sexuality are explored with as much frankness as artistic restraint. It is this restraint that makes The Decalogue suitable not only for adults, but for young adults, too. Decalogue Six, for example, would make an appropriately sober introduction for teenagers to the prickly complexities of sexual ethics. I wish I had seen it when I was about fifteen. If and when I have children of my own, I fully intend, when they are the right age, to sit down and watch The Decalogue with them.Each film seems constructed with an eye toward stimulating deep discussion. Invite some friends and family over. Watch a couple of films in The Decalogue series, then serve drinks and hors d'oeuvres. If the evening does not result in at least two or three hours of meaningful dialogue (and perhaps heated debate), nothing will.But I don't want to reduce The Decalogue to a mere set of conversation-starters. Like great short stories, the films have a genuine power and profundity that kind of sneaks up on you. Even if you watch them alone, they will reward you with many hours of fruitful contemplation. One needn't be religious to find meaning in them, either. The secular and the scared find common ground in The Decalogue - even in the illustration of such specifically religious concepts as the first commandment's admonition to "...have no other gods before Me." This particular film (the first in the series) is the most heart breaking. You don't have to believe in God to be moved by its story of tragically misplaced faith. No American studio or network would dare finance and release something like The Decalogue. The "lowest common denominator" philosophy of American culture has led to a shameful dumbing-down of film audiences. Why, in a country such as ours, with its surplus of skilled cinematic craftsmen, can we only rarely produce films with the kind of thematic quality present in the classics of Asian and European cinema? Fortunately The Decalogue is available to us in this DVD set. If you care about cinema - what it CAN be, as an art form - then it belongs in your collection."
Emotional Innocense Lost
Thaddeus D. Matula | Dallas, TX | 02/09/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This moving ten part series that originally aired in Poland in 1989, and then swept across the rest of Europe in 1990 and '91, really put Kieslowski on the map as a World filmmaker. He was, of course, an extremely influential filmmaker in Poland, and his "pre-Dekalog" films had a tight band of international fans (I highly recomend No End). But with these ten fifty minute films he broke open the flood gates to his last four films- The Double Life of Veronique, and the Three Colors Trilogy. Which are, in my opinion, among the best films ever made.The ten short features of the Decalogue mirror each one of the ten commandments in real-life situations. Watching these in order is an emotional journey that's tough to explain. The films have this Everyman feel, and somehow at the end you feel as if you've visited the apartment complex (where all ten films are set) in Warsaw. You feel with each of these stories a layer of innocense slipping away. Particualry enjoyable was Honor thy Father, and Though Shalt not Commit Adultery (which was turned into the somwewhat dissapointing 90 minute film A Short Film About Love).I recomend these films highly. You won't regret the purchase . . . unless your favorite director is Michael Bay."
Some of Kieslowski's best
Jeff Barrus | 04/20/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I waited for years to get a chance to see Kieslowski's Decalogue, and am so pleased to have finally got the two DVD set from Amazon. What can I say -- this is a masterpiece. Over 500 minutes of some of the most subtle, perceptive film making in the history of cinema. Kieslowski's films get at the heart of what makes people tick, and the Decalogue is perhaps his finest work, surpassing even the essential Three Colors: Red, White and Blue. If you have a DVD player and are a fan of Kieslowski's work, then you *must* own this. The transfer is excellent and perfectly captures the nuances of the cinematography. You will not be disappointed."