The Dekalog episodes I’ve seen can be divided into 2 groups. Dekalog 1 and 5, albeit never didactic or heavy-handed, are about ideas—Dekalog 1 is about science/ technology and the meaningful questions in life that they can’t answer, and about the unpredictability of life; Dekalog 5, which was expanded into A Short Film About Killing, is about murder by an individual and murder by the state, showing Kieslowski’s opposition to capital punishment.
My favourites so far are the others—2, 3, 4 and 6. Kieslowski introduces his characters in a way that makes us immediately form a judgement about them as with people we meet in life, like the woman in Dekalog 2 who seems to impose her will on the doctor, persistently asks for a question for which he has no answer, and says she wishes she had run over him instead of merely his dog, or the woman in Dekalog 3 who interrupts her former lover’s Christmas Eve, unabashedly takes him away from his family and later acts like a self-destructive woman, and so on. Then the stories unfold and we’ve got a glimpse of their inner lives. Like Blue and Red in the Three Colours trilogy, these films are about people and emotions, about their vulnerability, their loneliness and attempt to connect to someone else, about love and longing, about their conflicts and self-contradictions and self-deception…
Among these 4 films, Dekalog 6 has a special meaning. The 1st Kieslowski I saw, 5 years ago, was A Short Film About Love, which was the expanded version of it. A 19-year-old man uses a telescope to spy on a promiscuous older woman living in the adjacent building, and falls in love with her. Dekalog 6 is a story of 2 lonely people—Tomek, who doesn’t dare to ask but has to find ways to see the woman with whom he’s hopelessly in love; and Magda, who says love does not exist but deep down still craves tenderness and human connection. But once they come closer to each other and Magda to Tomek is no longer an abstract thing, he is too innocent and she is too cynical, to the point of being cruel. That destroys everything. Only then does Magda realise that he loves her and has the tenderness she needs. But it’s too late.
Unlike Dekalog 2, 3 and 4, Dekalog 6 doesn’t have an open ending. And it’s deeply sad.