I’ve been watching Dekalog. After 4 episodes, or films (each feels more like a great film on its own), I already feel that Kieslowski’s magnum opus is profound and going to change me forever.
Dekalog 1 sets off the series—the brilliant little son of a university professor is fascinated with his computer and what it can do, only to discover that science doesn’t explain everything and his computer can’t answer all questions, especially the most important and meaningful ones in life. Dekalog is not about the 10 Commandments as much as about the unpredictability of life, the self-contradictions of human beings, and the complexity of human emotions.
If in Dekalog 1, the father makes calculations about the ice and its ability to hold the boy, which, as shown later, is a question of life and death, in Dekalog 2, the doctor finds himself in the position akin to God, forced to answer a question that would decide the fate of a human being and affect the lives of several people. Kieslowski makes you ask yourself: what would you do under such circumstances? When someone placed in your hands the power to decide over the lives of several people?
In Dekalog 3, a man’s Christmas celebrations with his wife are interrupted as his former lover shows up, asking for help. In Dekalog 4, a man has been living with his daughter and an important moment comes when she discovers a letter by her mother, who died when she was 4 days old, and reveals to him that she isn’t his daughter—they have to face the reality that for a long time they’ve had incestuous feelings for each other, and now have to decide what to do.
Dekalog 2, 3 and 4 are different, but are all united by the theme of adultery and deception. I personally have always detested lies, and liars, but in each of these films there is a lie, and it’s not so simple—sometimes people lie, out of necessity or desperation, sometimes people choose to deceive themselves and refuse to know the truth because “their truth” is better than the truth itself, and sometimes people detect a lie but go along with it nevertheless for some reason. Kieslowski tells these stories, refusing to pass judgment, and his humanity shines through all these films.