Each episode is self-contained, from "Decalogue I" ("I Am the Lord Thy God"), the touching story of a boy who starts asking the hard questions of life from his rationalist father and religious aunt, to "Decalogue X" ("Thou Shalt Not Covet Thy Neighbor's Goods"), a comic tale of estranged brothers who bond through a winding ordeal involving their father's priceless stamp collection. There are stories of tragedy and triumph, both expansive and intimate, some profoundly moving and others delicately shaded--but all are warmed by Kieslowski's sympathetic direction and his eye for resonant, fragile imagery. Initially drawn together by location--the series is set in a dreary Warsaw apartment complex--a web of associations forms as characters pass through other stories, sometimes only briefly, and themes reverberate through the series. The Decalogue is ultimately a personal spiritual investigation into the soul of man, a work of quiet attention and deep emotion marked by astounding images and vivid characters. Each volume is also available individually on VHS. --Sean Axmaker
Ten Hours of Krzysztof Kieslowski's brillant work and Zbiginew Preisner's mesmerizing music...what else is there in life? I know there's more... but for ten hours you can enter the world of Kieslowski and forget any other exists! Now you don't have to watch them all at once, you can take an hour or two at a time and just immerse yourself. In the enlightening introduction by the very insightful Roger Ebert.Roger himself says that these films should be viewed one by one and given a chance to be talked about and absorbed. That's probably best..but sorry Roger, I became hooked after the first one and couldn't stop. Each one I viewed became my new favorite.
"The Decalogue" is a series of ten 1 hour films Kieslowski, together with his esteemed writing partner Krzysztof Piesiewicz,wrote for Polish Television in the mid 80's. Each film is based on the Ten Commandents, but are not relgious or politcal in nature. Each tells the story of modern day people, with modern day moral dilemmas that may fall into the catagories of the Commandments.Orignally Kieslowski had planned for some new and up and coming directors to film each of the series(or as he calls them...a set), but after seeing the final scripts, couldn't resist directing them all himself. What he did however, was to have a different and respected filmographer shoot each of the films. So we get very different looks at each story. And..we are also treated to a score by his illustrious composer Zbigniew Preisner in each one as well.
Here is a little about each film,which by the way are all set in a huge apartment complex, each neighbor with their own story:
DEC I..."I am the Lord thy God. Thou shalt have no other Gods before me".....A father and son are computer buffs. They have figured out the freezing tempature of a nearby lake and how long it will take to thaw....it must be right...the computer said so..but nature steps in and all is not as it should be.
DEC II."Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in Vain".....A woman's husband lays dying in a hospital, she is pregnant by another man..she puts the Doctor in the unenviable postion of having to tell her whether her husband will live or die..the fate of the fetus rests on his words.
DEC III..."Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it Holy"...A married man spends Christmas Eve driving around with his ex-lover trying to help her make things right in her life.
DEC IV..."Honor Thy Mother and Father"....Anka discovers her father is not her biological father. How will this change their relationship?
DEC V..."Thou shalt not kill"...a much discussed and controversial film of Kieslowski's in which the Death Penalty goes on trial.
DEC VI ..."Though shalt Not Commit adultery"...A young man becomes obssessed with a woman he has been spying on.The consequences are tradgic.
DEC VII.."Thou shalt not steal"..Little Ania is being brought up by her grandmother, but doesnt know that her real mother is actually her sister. Can a mother "kidnap" her own daughter?
DEC XIII..."Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor"...A Jewish war survivor from America, travels to Poland to talk to the person who refused her a hiding place.
DEC IX..."Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife"....Roman, loves his young wife dearly and she loves him, but he is impotent and encourages her to have an affair.Then is devasted and obssessive when he finds out she went through with it.
DEC X..."Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's goods"....This one adds a little comic relief to the set. Two brothers have inherited their father's very valuable stamp collection, and go to great lengths to protect it.
If you are a fan of Kieslowski or are looking for something in the way of fine filmmaking..look no further, this is a must own set. And if you already know the style of this great director, don't be surprised if some characters or their stories turn up by happenstance in others of the series.
Keeping in mind that these films were made for Polish Television in the 80's, I would have to say that the transfer to DVD's is very good. You wont find the crystal clarity or lush colors of films done by the big studios, but these films were more than enjoyable to view(DEC V seemed not quite up to the others though)The sound,including the dialouge, music and all background effects were crisp and audible. Along with the introduction by Roger Ebert, you will also find three nice features..."On the Set With the Decalogue", "Kieslowski Meets the Press"..(I felt privileged to be able to listen his views on this one), and a tribute from his colleagues after his death entitled.."Kieslowski: Known and Unknown" There are translators for these. The subititles are nice and clear(and may only be watched with them), and it includes a nice informative booklet which also includes the cast and crew of each film in the set.
Ahhhhhhhh..."The Decalogue"...go for it before it goes out of print(again)....it's wonderful....Laurie