Close Up

3 - 26 April 2018: Dekalog

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Tickets: £8 / £6 conc. / £4 Close-Up members
Box Office: 02037847970

This masterwork by Krzysztof Kieślowski is one of the twentieth century’s greatest achievements in visual storytelling. Originally made for Polish television, Dekalog focuses on the residents of a housing complex in late-Communist Poland, whose lives become subtly intertwined as they face emotional dilemmas that are at once deeply personal and universally human. Its ten hour-long films, drawing from the Ten Commandments for thematic inspiration and an overarching structure, grapple deftly with complex moral and existential questions concerning life, death, love, hate, truth, and the passage of time. Shot by nine different cinematographers, with stirring music by Zbigniew Preisner and compelling performances from established and unknown actors alike, Dekalog arrestingly explores the unknowable forces that shape our lives.

Dekalog 1
Krzysztof Kieślowski
1988 | 53 min | Colour | Digital
Polish with English subtitles

In Dekalog 1 a tragedy occurs when a man places too much faith in a computer model that forecasts the weather. Faith and reason, although apparently in conflict, are nothing more than different aspects of the human need to dominate life and to find answers to the unknown.

Dekalog 2
Krzysztof Kieślowski
1988 | 57 min | Colour | Digital
Polish with English subtitles

Dekalog 2 takes on a dying man and his wife's extra-marital pregnancy, an episode in which life and death play an infinite game and where silence plays a pivotal role.

Dekalog 3
Krzysztof Kieślowski
1988 | 59 min | Colour | Digital
Polish with English subtitles

Dekalog 3 sees a taxi driver help an ex-girlfriend on Christmas Eve. This episode tells the desperate story of a woman, Ewa, who wants to ruin the sacred holiday of her former lover and his family.

Dekalog 4
Krzysztof Kieślowski
1988 | 56 min | Colour | Digital
Polish with English subtitles

Dekalog 4 has a young woman discovering that the man she always believed to be her father is not in fact biologically related to her. This episode is a journey through the unstable and ambiguous nature of love.

Dekalog 5
Krzysztof Kieślowski
1988 | 57 min | Colour | Digital
Polish with English subtitles

Dekalog 5 follows what unfolds when a young man murders a taxi driver. An expanded cinema version of this episode was also released under the title A Short Film About Killing. This episode is designed to challenge our sense of being estranged from evil.

Dekalog 6
Krzysztof Kieślowski
1988 | 58 min | Colour | Digital
Polish with English subtitles

Dekalog 6 is an engaging psychological love story about Tomek, a shy young man who is in love with Magda, an older woman who lives in the building opposite his. This has been hailed as the episode which perfectly synthesizes Kieslowski’s paradoxical view that everything can be simultaneously beautiful and ugly, or reassuring and awkward, in regards to human interactions and emotions.

Dekalog 7
Krzysztof Kieślowski
1988 | 55 min | Colour | Digital
Polish with English subtitles

Dekalog 7 (which plays brilliantly on "Thou shalt not steal"') tells the story of Majka, who kidnaps her daughter Ania from her own mother, who is herself extremely attached to her granddaughter. A surreal episode, especially in terms of the visual frames that often interplay with the glances of the child, the plot relies on the tension between the two mothers Ewa and Majka, while little Ania is the victim of them both.

Dekalog 8
Krzysztof Kieślowski
1988 | 55 min | Colour | Digital
Polish with English subtitles

Dekalog 8 is about a Jewish woman, Elzbieta, who comes back to Warsaw after many years to question the philosophy professor who refused to give her shelter during World War II. This episode touches in such a poetic yet dramatic way on one of the main themes of Dekalog: the existence of moral and ethical contradictions that are out of the control of even well-intentioned individuals.

Dekalog 9
Krzysztof Kieślowski
1988 | 58 min | Colour | Digital
Polish with English subtitles

Dekalog 9 is a Hitchcockian tale of a man who gives his wife the freedom to sleep with whomever she wishes after finding out that he is impotent, all to her angry dismissal. Later, he discovers that she actually has been cheating on him with another man. This episode reflects the formal, impartial style of all Kieslowski’s subsequent films. 

Dekalog 10
Krzysztof Kieślowski
1988 | 55 min | Colour | Digital
Polish with English subtitles

Dekalog 10 is the lightest and most ironic chapter in the series; but while funny on the surface, it is stained by dark tones. Two brothers inherit a priceless stamp collection from their father, but lose one of the finest stamps to a cunning collector who is ready to give back the rare prize if he gets one kidney from either of the brothers in return.


Part of our season on Krzysztof Kieślowski

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Dekalog 9 & 10 Monday 30.04.18 6:00 pm Book