Krzysztof Kieslowski’s “Decalogue” is a remarkable collection of odd shaped objects. Madame Le Chef and I have watched the first six commandments and they are not a walk in the park, unless it’s a park that’s dark, rundown, confusing, sad, but also very beautiful.
I choose to talk about Decalogue 5 (Thou shall not kill) because it concerns a murder and the execution of the murderer and seems the most straightforward of the episodes. It’s clearly against capital punishment---it’s hardly happenstance that both the murder and the execution are initially botched strangulations. But we wouldn’t expect Kieslowski to make a tidy polemic and, of course, he doesn’t. Yes it’s crime and then punishment but what about the communion picture of the little girl, the mean cab driver, the dog, the sandwich, the other half of the sandwich? He leads us all over the place between beginning and ending with the young defense attorney.
I’ve mentioned before that I have nothing against beautiful messes but this episode is not really a mess. Instead it’s a crafty puzzle that never answers all your questions. The cinematography is beautiful. It tends towards sepia but also has an overexposed look in some exteriors that is reminiscent of Carl Dreyer’s “Vampyr”. The acting is excellent as usual with Kieslowski. The more of his stuff I see, the sadder I am that he died at 54.