Entries tagged with “Krzysztof Kieslowski”.

Revisiting the work of is a very special experience, both from a cinematographic and a historical point of view. I have seen the ‘Decalogue’ series almost 30 years ago, and A Short Film About Killing was part of it, in its shorter version. The time that passed since its release and the abrupt ending of the career and then of the life of Kieslowski provide a very different perspective. His films may be the same, and he certainly was one of the greatest film directors of his time and of all times. I had the chance to grow older, see more cinema and accumulate more life experience. The perspective is different, the way we read and understand his movies changed.


source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0095468

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0095468


By 1988 making such a film in Poland meant taking sides from a political, from a moral, and from an artistic point of view. The 80s had begun with the Solidarity movement in Poland which gave the sign of the fall of Communism in Eastern Europe at the end of the decade, but in the meantime military rule was imposed and freedom of art expression was limited. Film directors like Wajda took the more political path in their films, while Kieslowski chose the more subtle way of making the ten films that illustrate the Commandments placed in the realities of his country and of his time. ‘A Short Film About Killing‘ deals with the 5th commandment ‘Thou shalt not kill’ in a superbly constructed plead against the death penalty. The first part of the film builds in a Hitchcock style the story of a murder with no apparent reasons (Truman Capote’s ‘In Cold Blood’ comes to mind). Three characters belonging with three parallel threads will eventually meet in a violent and absurd event. But is not any murder an absurd and repelling event? The second part deals with the punishment of the crime. The young man who committed the murder is tried and condemned to death. We follow his last hours, we start understanding his background, and then, he dies. Absurd as well. An eloquent but one sided demonstration, as his victim has never any chance of pleading for his right to live. This is – maybe – the only flaw of the moral judgment in this story.


(video source tomasaidietis)


The construction of the story is perfect. Some of the images remind the French New Wave gangster films, but the background is the tern and grey landscape of Poland with the impersonal architecture that spread over all Eastern Europe. Kieslowski does here one more trick – he used different color filters for each frame that sometime impose yellow or green nuances to the image, some other time darken part of the screen. It’s just one more visual comment to emphasize the atmosphere of decay – moral, social, human decay. So far we are from the rosy nuances of the fake ‘socialist realism’ style. Acting is superb, as in many Polish films of that period, with , shining in the lead role and supporting him as the lawyer who may be the only positive character in the story.  Overall, this film keeps all its dramatic and moral value in time, but also is enriched by the political dimension it receives in the perspective of the time. One of Kieslowski’s best movies – highly recommended.

Seeing the films of is a special experience, now, more than two decades since he stopped making films, and died soon after. The Polish director’s relative short life (he died at the age of 54) and career (less than two decases) is now turning into legend. Each of his films shows the quality and the emotion of a true master of the cinema. “The Double Life of Veronique” (or “La double vie de Véronique” in French) is one of his best known movies, made at the peak of his cinema career, between the Decalogue and the Three Colors trilogy. Somehow I missed it at release. Now, in the perspective of the life and death of the director, not only that it stays as a remarkable piece of cinema but it is enriched with new significance.


source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0101765

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0101765


Fate and identity are the two big topics of this film. Have you ever had the feeling that you are not alone or even unique in the Universe, that somewhere or maybe in some other time, a parallel destiny is shared with yours? Did you ever feel like your life is not the result of your own decisions, that higher forces manipulate you life, same as a puppeteer controls his marionettes? If you ever felt something like this or if you can understand or imagine such feelings, this story of two young women, living in two different parts of Europe, sharing talents, feelings and fate without their lives ever intersecting for more than a few seconds, this story should not seem strange at all.

Beautiful films (and books, and paintings, and musical works) have complex layers of meanings and a multitude of details that are revealed to the viewer, reader, listener. This is exactly the case with ”La double vie de Véronique”. One can use multiple keys to read the story. There is a political reading about the parallel destinies of the two women who are born and live on the two sides of the curtain that divided Europe and was just falling down by the time the film was made. There is a philosophical reading about destiny and about the controllers of the destiny (the puppeteer, the writer who creates characters and write about their destinies). There is a religious reading with multiple symbols that ask to be examined from the name of the main character to the music that is sung and played during the film.


(video source sexytzigane)


Each of the scenes includes details that support the multiple stories and have their place in it, in some cases relating to other scenes in the peer story. The only exception was the secondary thread about presumptive perjury by the French Veronique whose sense I could not decipher. Music plays an important role, as the two women are musicians, they sing and teach music that reflects their relation with fate and God. So does light, which is in some cases maneuvered by the characters. The mirrors also show up in many scenes, sometimes as a reflection of the self, in other cases as a gate to the other side, as in Lewis Carroll’s stories. Shades and mysteries follow the characters and the viewers at any corner and in any moment.

Kieslowski’s mastering of the art of cinema is matched by the superb acting of . She is strange and beautiful, sensitive and expressive. I can also wonder why her star paled after Kieslowski stopped making films, and why other film directors could not make better use of her beauty and talent. She is part of the same generation of French and French-speaking actresses as for example, but their post 1995 careers were so different. What a pity.

I am happy to have discovered “La double vie de Véronique”, even if so late. It’s a film to see and see again.