Ten television drama films, each one based on one of the Ten Commandments.
'I am always reluctant to single out some particular feature of the work of a major film-maker because it tends inevitably to simplify and reduce the work. But...it should not be out of place to observe that [co-authors Krzysztof Kieslowski and Krzysztof Piesiewicz] have the very rare ability to dramatize their ideas rather than just talking about them. By making their points through the dramatic action of the story they gain an added power of allowing the audience to discover what's really going on rather than being told. They do this with such dazzling skill, you never see the ideas coming and don't realize until much later how profoundly they have reached your heart.'

Stanley Kubrick, January 1991

Decalogue Video  


  Decalogue 1

Krzysztof introduces his small son, Pawel, to the mysteries of the personal computer, a machine which he believes to be infallible. It is winter. Pawel, anxious to try out his new pair of skates, asks his father if he can go out to the local pond which has just frozen over. They consult the computer; the ice will hold the boy's weight; he can go. Pawel doesn't come home. There was a freak local thaw; the computer was wrong; Pawel drowned. Krzysztof runs over to the church in protest and despair, falls against an altar. Candle wax splashes over the face of the Black Madonna and dries on her cheeks as tears.


  Decalogue 2

Dorota visits Andrzej, her dying husband, in the hospital. She is pregnant - this might be the last chance for her to have a baby - but not by him. She asks the Consultant in charge of her husband's case, whether Andrzej will die. If he lives, she will have to have an abortion; if he dies, she can have the child. How can the doctor decide the life or death of an unborn child? How can he be certain whether his patient will die or miraculously recover? He tells Dorota that her husband doesn't have a chance; but Andrzej recovers. Dorota tells Andrzej that they are going to have a baby; he thinks it's his.


  Decalogue 3

Christmas Eve, a night when families are together and nobody wants to be alone. Ewa tricks Janusz, her ex-lover, away from his family and under various pretexts tries to keep him with her for the night. Janusz wants to go home but Ewa is determined. They part at dawn.


  Decalogue 4

Anka is 20 years old. Her mother is dead and she lives with Michal, her father. They get on well together. Michal has to go on a trip abroad. While he is away, Anka finds an envelope in her father's room: 'Not to be opened before my death.' Within that envelope is another, addressed, in her mother's handwriting, to her. Anka meets her father on his return and quotes the letter where her mother reveals that Michal is not Anka's real father. A different relationship emerges between Anka and Michal as Anka subtly tries to seduce him. Michal resists; she might still be his daughter. As Michal leaves for another trip, Anka runs after him, confessing that she hasn't read the letter after all.


  Decalogue 5

A youth randomly, and brutally, murders a taxi-driver. Piotr has just passed his law exams and been admitted to the bar. He is to defend Jacek, the young murderer. There is no evidence for the defence and no apparent motive. Jacek is put on trial, found guilty and executed by hanging. Piotr, after his first case, is left with the bitter doubt - does the legal system, in the name of the people, have the right to kill in cold blood?
Television version of A Short Film About Killing.


  Decalogue 6

Tomek, a young post office worker, is obsessed with Magda, the promiscuous woman, who lives in the tower block opposite. He spies on her through a telescope and finally declares his love. She initiates him into the basic fact of life - there is no love, only sex. Tomek, shattered, tries to commit suicide but doesn't succeed. When he returns from hospital, it is Magda who becomes obsessed with him.
Television version of A Short Film About Love.


  Decalogue 7

Six-year-old Ania is being brought up by Ewa in the belief that Majka, Ewa's daughter, is her sister, whereas Majka is really her mother. Tired of living this lie and desparate to have Ania love her as a mother, Majka 'kidnaps' Ania and runs away from her parents. She seeks refuge with Wotjek, Ania's father. Majka was just a schoolgirl when Wojtek, her teacher, got her pregnant. Ewa, jealous of Ania's love, looks for her everywhere, phones Wojtek. Majka seizes her little girl and continues to run; she still will only return home if her mother allows her to bring up her own daughter in the recognition of the true relationship. Majka and Ania hide at a nearby station. Ewa asks the woman at the ticket office whether she has seen a young woman with a little girl. The ticket woman lies - yes, she did see them but they left some two hours ago. In the background, Ania wakes up and sees Ewa. 'Mummy,' she calls and runs to her. A train arrives, Majka jumps on, rejecting Ewa's pleas for her to come home.


  Decalogue 8

Elzbieta, researching the fate of Jewish war survivors, is visiting from New York and sits in on lectures in ethics at the University of Warsaw. She approaches Zofia, the professor, and tells her that she is the little Jewish girl whom Zofia refused to shelter from the Nazis during the Occupation. As Zofia explains the reason for this apparent cowardice - someone had betrayed Zofia's husband who was active in the underground and any Jewish child would have fallen into the hands of the Gestapo - her long-standing sense of guilt is cleared while Elzbieta's faith in humanity is restored.


  Decalogue 9

Roman learns he's impotent. Recognizing his wife, Hanka's, sexual needs, he encourages her to take a lover. She is reluctant; she loves Roman, but does have an affair with Mariusz, a student. Roman, despite his own words, becomes excessively jealous and obsessed with the thought that Hanka might have followed his encouragement and taken a lover. He spies on her and learns of her relationship with Mariusz, unaware of the fact that Hanka has broken off the affair. Roman tries to commit suicide but survives. Hanks rushes to his side.


  Decalogue 10

A man dies leaving an extremely valuable stamp collection to his two sons, Jerzy and Artur. Although they know very little about stamps, they are unwilling to sell. They learn that one very rare stamp is needed to complete a valuable set. To acquire the stamp Jerzy donates his kidney - the man in possession of the stamp is in need of a kidney for his daughter. Returning from hospital, Jerzy and Artur find that they have been burgled. The entire stamp collection is gone. Shamefully, they confess that they suspected each other and are reconciled.


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