Monday, March 13, 2017

Film Notes: Dekalog 10

Dekalog 10, is Krzysztof Kieślowski's final short film in this series made for Polish TV in the 1980s. The series as a whole has gained 'cult status', because of Kieślowski's imaginative storytelling, some hauntingly beautiful music, and some clever and intriguing responses to each of the Ten Commandments. However, the series as a whole is best remembered as an insight into what late communist Poland looked and sounded like - as well as being a window into the ethical world of the decaying Marxist-Leninist state, which was overlaid on residual Polish Catholicism.

While Dekalog One begins the series with a stunning, and emotional wrenching drama which all but burns itself into the memory; Dekalog 10 is probably the weakest of the set. Dekalog 10, doesn't seem to fit in with the rest of the series either. While parts 1-9 were all emotionally tense, gripping dramas, 10 was a farcical black comedy, which didn't hold my attention in the same way the othes did. So, while I was hoping that the series would end with more of a bang than a whimper, it would be a shame to let this detract from the greatness of the series taken as a whole.

Dekalog Ten concerns two very different brothers, (one is older and sensible, one younger and the front-man in a punk band). Much to their surprise, they inherit an invaluable stamp collection from their late, semi-estranger father. The 'do not covet' element of the film (which is the commandment in question here), is about the lust for wealth and riches, and how it divides the brothers, while they have it. However, while the brothers fall into mutual distrust - they are both conned and robbed of everything they inherited by a series of collaborating con-men. Finally, when others coveting their fortune has succeeded, they are reconciled, the poison of coveting having been neutralised.

As ever, the film is well acted, is atmospheric, and Kieślowski's usual eye for quirky detail shines through. It's not that it is a bad film, it is simply that after nine riveting and tantalising dramas, Dekalog 10 just didn't seem to be of the same calibre.

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