Today, Krzysztof Kieślowski’s Dekalog opens at New York’s IFC Center for its first theatrical run in fifteen years. Originally produced for Polish television, this ten-part meditation on the Ten Commandments centers on the residents of a housing complex in late-Communist Poland, charting the moral and philosophical dilemmas that arise as their lives intersect. To celebrate Dekalog’s return to the big screen in a new 4K restoration, we’ve gathered a selection of writing on this monumental film cycle.
- The Village Voice’s Bilge Ebiri writes that Dekalog “certainly lives up to its reputation as a mind-altering masterpiece . . . By the end of each installment, we’re faced not with answers, or even hints of answers, but with the irreducible, unresolvable messiness of life.”
- Also for the Voice, Ebiri interviews legendary Polish composer and longtime Kieślowski collaborator Zbigniew Preisner, who wrote the score for Dekalog. “Film music, in my opinion, shouldn’t be an illustration of what we can see on the screen but should play a metaphysical role,” says Preisner. “It’s a dramatic axis in the movie.”
- Over at Indiewire, critic David Ehrlich callsDekalog “a profoundly humanistic work, a film cycle less interested in God than the gifts that a creator may have endowed us with.”
- “Dekalog is a single grand entity, greater than the sum of its sometimes stupendous parts,” writes Mike D’Angelo for the A.V. Club. “Think of it as the televisual and/or cinematic equivalent of Joyce’s Dubliners, providing a monumental, probing, yet playful snapshot of Warsaw in the late 1980s. Then hunker down and burrow in.”
- Read critic Kristin M. Jones’s review and watch a clip from the first Dekalog installment at the Wall Street Journal.
- RogerEbert.com has published excerpts from a series of interviews with Kieślowski conducted between 1989 and 1994. Reflecting on the tense sociopolitical climate of his homeland, Kieślowski calls Poland “a country of suffering people whose lives are very difficult. That in turn is very inspiring. The extremity of our daily life makes everyone so incredibly nervous. We are aching so much, like a person who fell from a set of stairs and everything hurts him.”
- “The tales in Dekalog conduct a mesmerizing dialogue with God and science, with free will and fate, with the many ways in which indifference or cruelty echo and repeat down the generations,” writes Ella Taylor for NPR.
- Over at Salon, Andrew O’Hehir examinesDekalog’s influence on modern television, hailing the series as “the beginning of a process that set television free.”