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 Post subject: Re: 837 Dekalog
PostPosted: Mon Nov 07, 2016 6:41 pm 

Joined: Mon Feb 22, 2016 2:18 pm
Zot! wrote:
Well its not out of the question that some people's set up cant accomodate a 25fps program. Though easilly overcome, i realize there are still people buying DVDs as well.

I should add that even when you can accomodate 25fps, the quality of the outcome (stutter, stability) may be dependent on your rquipment, wheras criterion would be normailzed in that respect.


Fortunately my set accommodates 25fps, however there is noticeable stuttering during camera moves. While noticeable it doesn't detract from the experience. I also bought the Criterion set for the two feature expansions but have yet to watch them. I can't compare the two sets yet, but visual quality of Arrow's release is stunning. I also appreciate the slightly wider aspect ratio -- it makes more of a difference than you might suspect. Arrow have really outdone themselves on a release I've been awaiting for years. I look forward to diving into Criterion's supplements as well.


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 Post subject: Re: 837 Dekalog
PostPosted: Mon Nov 07, 2016 6:47 pm 
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apriori wrote:
Zot! wrote:
I also appreciate the slightly wider aspect ratio -- it makes more of a difference than you might suspect.

I'm glad you agree with me, because this wasn't an easy decision. The aspect ratio of TVP's master was 1.39:1, which was clearly wider than expected - but when I experimentally cropped it to a "correct" 1.33:1 and ran the two side by side, I found that I consistently preferred the slightly wider image. I was also very wary of making destructive changes to the composition unless I was certain that I was recommending the right thing - and I wasn't. (At the time, I didn't know what approach Criterion would take).

It's been slightly frustrating seeing people on other forums claim that the Arrow release has "the wrong aspect ratio", because the evidence of my own eyes very much suggests otherwise, regardless of how it was broadcast on TV. And it's also worth noting that the restoration was signed off by some of the original cinematographers, which also made me reluctant to recommend cropping the image.


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 Post subject: Re: 837 Dekalog
PostPosted: Mon Nov 07, 2016 9:06 pm 

Joined: Mon Feb 22, 2016 2:18 pm
MichaelB wrote:
apriori wrote:
Zot! wrote:
I also appreciate the slightly wider aspect ratio -- it makes more of a difference than you might suspect.

I'm glad you agree with me, because this wasn't an easy decision. The aspect ratio of TVP's master was 1.39:1, which was clearly wider than expected - but when I experimentally cropped it to a "correct" 1.33:1 and ran the two side by side, I found that I consistently preferred the slightly wider image. I was also very wary of making destructive changes to the composition unless I was certain that I was recommending the right thing - and I wasn't. (At the time, I didn't know what approach Criterion would take).

It's been slightly frustrating seeing people on other forums claim that the Arrow release has "the wrong aspect ratio", because the evidence of my own eyes very much suggests otherwise, regardless of how it was broadcast on TV. And it's also worth noting that the restoration was signed off by some of the original cinematographers, which also made me reluctant to recommend cropping the image.


The 1.39:1 ratio is so idiosyncratic that it almost had to be a specific choice by Kieslowski. It's entirely plausible that he shot the aspect ratio he preferred regardless of the limitations of TV broadcast at the time. The additional information feels very much a part of the natural shot composition -- so much so that specific shots, like the water dripping on the pipe in ep. two, now feel wrong in 1.33:1. I'm pleased you didn't crop it.

The CC and Arrow editions complement each other nicely, but the Arrow is the superior release in almost every regard. I'm not sure what CC was thinking by sacrificing bitrate for sake of storage. That seems remarkably shortsighted for such an important release.


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 Post subject: Re: 837 Dekalog
PostPosted: Mon Nov 07, 2016 9:59 pm 
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apriori wrote:
I'm not sure what CC was thinking by sacrificing bitrate for sake of storage. That seems remarkably shortsighted for such an important release.

Criterion has been doing this on lots of releases (La Dolce Vita, 8 1/2, Fanny & Alexander, The Killers, Dr. Strangelove, Seven Samurai...) for some time now. For whatever reason, Criterion has been more reluctant to release 2nd blu-ray discs for bonus material than it used to be with DVDs in the dvd-only days.


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 Post subject: Re: 837 Dekalog
PostPosted: Mon Nov 07, 2016 10:48 pm 
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I'm amused that if you just add the third and fourth discs of the Criterion to the Arrow Dekalog set you have a basically perfect set covering pretty much every single possible thing of interest about this in some capacity. They work *so* well together.


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 Post subject: Re: 837 Dekalog
PostPosted: Mon Nov 07, 2016 11:52 pm 
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Lowry_Sam wrote:
Criterion has been doing this on lots of releases (...Seven Samurai...) for some time now. For whatever reason, Criterion has been more reluctant to release 2nd blu-ray discs for bonus material than it used to be with DVDs in the dvd-only days.

um, this one does have a 2nd blu-ray with the extras.


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 Post subject: Re: 837 Dekalog
PostPosted: Wed Nov 09, 2016 12:22 am 
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So is the general consensus on this release one of disappointment? I've been looking forward to an eventual Criterion release of Dekalog ever since going through the supplements on Three Colors and learning of its existence. When it was announced I was ecstatic, but now I'm having a hard time convincing myself it's worth it. Unfortunately the Arrow release isn't an option for me at the moment. Are the problems overstated?


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 Post subject: Re: 837 Dekalog
PostPosted: Wed Nov 09, 2016 3:55 am 
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I don't anyone could call it a disappointment, especially because any US customer shouldn't be able to compare it with the Arrow release. But it's not 100% optimum : there is a small black levels discussion, the frame cropped at 1.33, and of course the compression. But these are very small nitpicks, it seems.


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 Post subject: Re: 837 Dekalog
PostPosted: Wed Nov 09, 2016 9:34 am 
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Honestly, I could have seen the Criterion release done better (a better spread of the material for instance, though I think a lot of stems from a desire to keep everything very distinct from each other in terms of material type as well as maintain a certain consistency/conformity in all of their Blu-ray releases). *But* in the end, it's still the Dekalog available in a home video format that does the programme/films justice. Yes, the compression could have been better (again, better material spread) but it is still sourced from the restoration masters approved by the surviving cinematographers.

As to the aspect ratio discussion - what is it with this and aspect ratios? =] - I can't help but compare this to the Blu-ray of Ken Burns' The Civil War from last year. Ken Burns was excited because home viewers are now able to see much more of the picture than it was originally broadcasted. This is of course due to the original 1991 broadcast where it was analog and received on CRT televisions that would crop and obscure the edges. So perhaps this is where the Arrow release may have allowed more of the negative to be shown whereas Criterion may have tailored it to replicate an original home viewing experience (barring of course the long discussed broadcast issue as North America uses 60Hz instead of 50Hz and NTSC instead of PAL). But like tenia said, these can be seen as nitpicks.

On the whole, I have been waiting for at least a decade for this and I'm very pleased with this. If I invested in a home viewing system tweak that would allow for multiple regions and more nuanced playback (50Hz instead 60Hz, 25p instead of 24p, etc.), then maybe I could add the Arrow set also. But for my purposes, the Criterion will definitely suffice.

P.S. I *love* the design for the cover. This will actually be a case where I will most likely get the poster of it.


Last edited by djproject on Thu Dec 01, 2016 12:59 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: 837 Dekalog
PostPosted: Wed Nov 09, 2016 9:56 am 
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I’ve only sampled the Criterion set, but so far it seems like a great release. The picture quality is far better than any previous version I’ve seen, and the extras I’ve gone through were excellent. I too have been waiting for this release for a long time, and my only complaint so far is about the sub-optimal compression—but even there, it's nowhere near being a disaster like some of last year's releases (I'm looking at you, Mulholland Drive.)

I think it’s only a disappointment in comparison to the Arrow set, which t*umps the Criterion in the compression and extras.

In other words, the Criterion may not be the ultimate/definitive release of the films we may have hoped for - but you shouldn't feel short changed if it's the only version you can get, either.


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 Post subject: Re: 837 Dekalog
PostPosted: Mon Nov 14, 2016 10:34 am 

Joined: Tue May 28, 2013 1:43 pm
I watched Dekalog: One last night and was a little distracted and distressed as the image kept flashing brighter in a sort of pulsing way especially in the brighter scenes. Occasional white lines would show up across the screen which was worst near the end when the wax is dripping on the icon. During that scene, the noise was so bad, it affected the left black bar of the pillar boxing. Is this an on disc issue or related to my equipment (older Magnavox BD player and brand new TCL 55" 4K Roku TV).


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 Post subject: Re: 837 Dekalog
PostPosted: Fri Feb 03, 2017 10:14 am 

Joined: Sat Jan 14, 2017 3:04 pm
It seems as though the reaction on this board is mostly about the technical merits of Criterion's release, which is fine and informative, but I'm not getting much sense that these films merited a strong reaction from anyone around here. Maybe there's another post that I'm missing. Like djproject I was very excited about the release, and I am a region-a only person, so it is what it is.

In any case, these films elicited a strong reaction out of me; perhaps much stronger considering I had not seen the films in years and as mentioned the previous releases were very poor quality. Plus, over time The Double Life of Veronique, White, and especially Red, have become some of my favorite films.

I'll put a few of my reactions under spoilers. For now I will keep to Dekalog 1, 5, and 6:

[Reveal] Spoiler:
Dekalog 1: I don't think I've seen a crisis of faith film from this angle. Usually it is the priest, or some priestly figure/naive believer, who has some doubt creeping in until everything erodes. It probably works better that Krzysztof is not really excessive or demonstrative in any of his opinions. He seems rather practical, agnostic, and mostly rational. This is crucial because I think Kieslowski is showing that you don't necessarily need to have an excessive ideology to be brought down by unpredictable circumstances. Plus, the whole subject is treated with such nuance. Yes, Pawel starts speaking about death and has some questions about the afterlife. His relationship with his father and his aunt may present a dichotomy, but both relationships seem to me rather understated and potentially tender. I really don't think Pawel's death is treated in a heavy-handed way. The crowd gathering outside only seems unlikely because it's so cold; still, these are likely the children of this community, and there's probably nothing else to do.

This is also true of Dekalog 5. Here I do think he's giving a rather obvious message against the death penalty, plus the utter chaos and confusion of random violence. It's spelled out through the film and any commentary on the film. Still, I'm sucked in by Kieslowski's love for coincidence. Piotr and Jacek together in the same room might as well seem meaningless, just like the ritual surrounding the two killings. These coincidences lurk beneath the films just like the moral ideas of the ten commandments lurk beneath the films. At best the characters can only grasp at them.

Finally for today I'll mention a little bit about Dekalog 6. This type of story has also been covered before by others such as Hitchcock; I could see Almodovar doing a weird spin on it too with this absurd kind of romance. I'm not sure that either of them came up with this type of conclusion though. Most people would probably be outraged and totally off-put by the extent of the stalking going on here, or any stalking. But the film couldn't end at the 20 minute mark. Maybe all of this works for me because the characters are so brutally honest with each other. This really seems like something Tolstoy could've written (there are echoes in the Dekalog of his forged check story that Bresson adapted).

I'm sure it's been said already, Tom's suicide attempt near the end seems more a response to the "cut off your own hand" for lust. I like the (sort of) optimistic ending of this film. Both of them are free because he stopped watching; the problem with lust and obsession is that it's a trap for everyone involved.


I think the contemporary Christian film market could take a lot from these films. I know probably all of us on this board scoff at those films, and rightly so. They present atheists as Christian bashing tyrants--then terrible things happen to them. Kieslowski uses ideas throughout his films, but his characters are rarely ideological. They're too busy buying milk, going to church, making love, teaching, writing or listening to music, recording other people's phone conversations, dancing, fashion showing, faintly trying to discover some parallel life or double, etc, etc.


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 Post subject: Re: 837 Dekalog
PostPosted: Fri Feb 03, 2017 12:36 pm 

Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 3:23 pm
JohnShade wrote:
It seems as though the reaction on this board is mostly about the technical merits of Criterion's release, which is fine and informative, but I'm not getting much sense that these films merited a strong reaction from anyone around here. Maybe there's another post that I'm missing.


I think most of us processed our feelings about it long, long ago. It's not new to anyone.


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 Post subject: Re: 837 Dekalog
PostPosted: Fri Feb 03, 2017 2:12 pm 

Joined: Sat Jan 14, 2017 3:04 pm
mteller wrote:
I think most of us processed our feelings about it long, long ago. It's not new to anyone.



True, but this worries me when the discussion tends to be more about bit rates than anything else. Plus, this is one of those experiences, at least for me, when it seemed close to new on blu ray compared to the inferior products of the past. It's also likely that it's new for someone out there.


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 Post subject: Re: 837 Dekalog
PostPosted: Fri Feb 03, 2017 4:07 pm 
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JohnShade wrote:
mteller wrote:
I think most of us processed our feelings about it long, long ago. It's not new to anyone.



True, but this worries me when the discussion tends to be more about bit rates than anything else. Plus, this is one of those experiences, at least for me, when it seemed close to new on blu ray compared to the inferior products of the past. It's also likely that it's new for someone out there.

It's a common blight. People are all excited about a release, but then nobody actually comments on the films, or gets distracted by packaging or technical complaints. It's going back a ways, but there may have been discussion of the films in the last couple of rounds of our 80s List Project.


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 Post subject: Re: 837 Dekalog
PostPosted: Fri Feb 03, 2017 4:48 pm 

Joined: Sat Jan 14, 2017 3:04 pm
Not trying to deride anyone critiquing the quality of this release, especially since there seems to have been an issue with it and over at the bluray forum. I'm just a guy who likes these movies though.


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 Post subject: Re: 837 Dekalog
PostPosted: Sat Feb 04, 2017 2:30 am 
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I've been slowly watching them, about one a week, and I think technically they are superb. I think bit rate cock waggling comparisons are pointless, criterions presentation is pretty phenomenal when actually buying and watching the discs.

I first watched these films in January of 2008 from Netflix, it was the first kieslowski I'd seen and in the intervening nine years a lot has changed for me. I liked the films a lot then, loved some but remember feeling overall amazed at the achievement but feeling it was uneven. That is probably because I binged through the discs watching three films a night, which is terrible way to try to store unique long term impressions of the films.

Nine years later all I remembered was "the one with the computers" "the one with the murder" "the one with the stamps" so rewatching the films has been almost like watching them for the first time.

What's consistently amazed me through the first eight is how insanely good they all are. And how I was simply too young, too callow, to appreciate each film as its own discrete unit nor really grasp the tapestry of the whole piece.


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 Post subject: Re: 837 Dekalog
PostPosted: Sat Feb 04, 2017 6:29 am 
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My first Kieślowski was A Short Film About Killing, then Dekalog over a week in Paris where they'd been intelligently programmed in constantly circulating double bill cycles so that if you went at the same time every day over five days you could see the lot (by contrast, London ran them as one double bill per week over five weeks, a disastrous decision as it made it impossible to catch up with earlier instalments if you'd gone on a belated word of mouth recommendation).

The downside was that I had to watch them in the order 3-10 and then 1 and 2 at the end, and of course I had to deal with French subtitles, but it was easily worth it. In fact, the following year, to coincide with The Double Life of Véronique, there was a major Kieślowski retrospective in Paris, so I got to see a huge amount of his back catalogue more than 25 years ago.


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 Post subject: Re: 837 Dekalog
PostPosted: Sat Feb 04, 2017 7:09 am 
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That is something that interests me - seeing a director at the contemporary moment of discovery when they are actually in the midst of their work contrasting to after their retirement or death (or both in Kieślowski's case). I find it really interesting to see how the time period in which a film (a fixed, unchanging work) is seen in affects the perspective with which audiences see the works, mixed in of course with the point that an audience member is at at the time of viewing them. (I'm sure I'll have a different perspective, and maybe relate more to different characters now, in the Dekalog seeing the series in my mid-30s compared to watching it last time in my early-20s for example. But that doesn't mean I'm 'right' now and was 'wrong' then, just that I've changed in what I might think matters, or that I take away from a piece of art. The best films, or any art really, can keep revealing themselves to a person as they change in front of it)

Were those Paris screenings a first opportunity at the time for giving international audiences a chance to see a lot of Kieślowski's work, or had that kind of retrospective occurred earlier in his career? (I think its interesting to think about promotion of filmmakers in film festivals and simple retrospective programming of works being an important factor in a filmmaker's career. It is one of those things that Nothing had a point about years ago, although he came at it from a very negative view of that approach being exclusionary (perhaps from personal experience!) to those who are not chosen, while I think there can be definite positives about that selection and programming process too)


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 Post subject: 837 Dekalog
PostPosted: Sat Feb 04, 2017 5:57 pm 
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The UK actually discovered Kieślowski comparatively early, with both Camera Buff and No End getting commercial cinema releases - I suspect neither was a particularly big hit, as I don't recall either getting much repertory play, but they certainly laid the ground work for the 1989/90 explosion.

Which, if I remember rightly, consisted of:

Late 1989: A Short Film About Killing opens in British cinemas; BBC2 shows Blind Chance as a tie-in (this may have been its British premiere; it was certainly its first non-festival screening);
Easter 1990: Dekalog plays on BBC2 on Sunday evenings under the contentious title The Ten Commandments[-i];
Late spring 1990: [i]A Short Film About Love
opens.

This was nothing like the blowout that Kieślowski had in Paris, where by 1991 you had a good chance of seeing all the features and even some early documentaries, and Dekalog wouldn't play theatrically in Britain until 1993 or thereabouts, but it's certainly true that this was the most attention we paid to a Polish filmmaker since Andrzej Wajda's big revival from 1977-82. And I can't think of anything to match it since.


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 Post subject: Re: 837 Dekalog
PostPosted: Sat Feb 04, 2017 7:42 pm 
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MichaelB wrote:
Late 1989: A Short Film About Killing opens in British cinemas; BBC2 shows Blind Chance as a tie-in (this may have been its British premiere; it was certainly its first non-festival screening);


Blind Chance was shown at the 1987 London Film Festival.

The LFF showed A Short Film About Killing in 1988 and A Short Film About Love in 1989 - I was at the latter showing.


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 Post subject: Re: 837 Dekalog
PostPosted: Sun Mar 19, 2017 6:59 pm 
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The attraction for this completely eludes me. It's not even a case where I can blame Kieslowski's fame on the reception as my understanding is that this is the project that made that international fame in the first place. Which is all to say I realize my opinion doesn't have a leg to stand on. I rather liked episodes three and four to be fair, but beyond them the themes, title specific or not, seem very superficially handled. In the case of the worst episodes, like two and six, the themes get even so muddled that the story even hurts for a logical expression. Also for someone with such an aesthetic reputation a lot of these are awfully shot with blocking and lighting out of a low end HBO drama. Episode seven for instance has one of the better stories, but it is told in such a perfunctory style that the effect is entirely flat.

Episode five is a fairly good miniature for the rest of the series as there is so much good going on that I want to be convinced it is great, but the bumps in the road are too noticeable to give it the full benefit. Kieslowski cheats sympathies a bit by having the victim be off putting while the killer is a handsome kid with a sad backstory. Likewise the editing across the first half hour is an interesting experiment so that though it like the cinematography does not have an analog in the other episodes it's easy to uncritically love it, but then that editing is dropped for the second half for no good reason turning it into a frustrating series of whys. I want to like this for the talent on display, but can't because of the shocking degree of sloppiness permitted.


Last edited by knives on Sun Mar 19, 2017 8:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: 837 Dekalog
PostPosted: Sun Mar 19, 2017 8:28 pm 
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knives wrote:
Kieslowski cheats sympathies a bit by having the victim be off putting while the killer is a handsome kid with a sad backstory.

I don't think he's doing that at all - for me, the only truly sympathetic character in the film is the lawyer. Which I suspect is primarily why he's there in the first place.

I find it very hard to sympathise with "a handsome kid with a sad backstory" when we only hear the back-story after watching him commit motiveless, cold-blooded murder in agonising detail - and it seems to me that in making both the film's victims unsympathetic, Kieślowski is focusing our attention not on sentiment but on the moral and physical aspects of killing, of both the illegal and legal kinds. One of the original reviews used the phrase "Bressonian confidence", and I can see what it meant: in pretty much every shot (and, oddly, this applies just as much to the shorter cut as the longer one), he knows exactly what he's doing.

I obviously disagree passionately with pretty much everything else that you've said, especially the comment about "sloppiness", which is utterly baffling to me. I think part of the problem, ironically given your complaint about "superficiality" is that you yourself are approaching it from a very superficial perspective, complaining about the aesthetics (as if a low-budget Polish TV series from 1988 would ever match HBO production values) while eliding the substance - and for me Kieślowski is all about substance. (In fact, aside from The Double Life of Veronique, where everything miraculously clicked, I've never been that fond of the later films, as they often seem to value form over content in a way that's never true of his earlier Polish films.)

And part six, for me, is one of the most powerful episodes (in fact, its feature-length version, A Short Film About Love, is for me Kieślowski's supreme masterpiece), and there's nothing remotely "muddled" about it from my perspective - on the contrary, its mercilessly forensic dissection of what we really mean by "love" hit me just as hard when into a fifteen-year marriage as it did when I first saw it in 1990 when I was much closer to Tomek's age and inexperience.


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 Post subject: Re: 837 Dekalog
PostPosted: Sun Mar 19, 2017 9:09 pm 
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I figure what you have said is his goal, but the film, in the short at least as I haven't seen the feature, gives the audience a lot to grab onto in that scene so as to make his death horrible. Perhaps I should have been more clear in saying that the handsome killer with a backstory comes into play in the film's second half, but I figured that would have been assumed. Making the cabbie unlikable is the only thing off putting about the initial act rather than allowing it to speak to its own brutality. This might be a good time to also refer to your HBO response, but to be clear I didn't mean modern HBO, but their productions contemporary to this film. If that's still not fair though how about comparing to Alan Clarke who certainly worked on small budgets and not even this series' 35mm and yet managed a much better aesthetic than the episodes I was referring to here, which obviously doesn't include episode five.

That aside done Clarke's own film against judicial killing, To Encourage the Others seems to have integrated its sympathies better than five. It still does a lot in the back half to make the one to be hanged sympathetic, but doesn't work up moralistic excuses for the killing. Kieslowski builds up to the killing as inevitable from the car crash on, but gives the killer time to be likable such as with the girls by the window and builds the victim as an earned murder through failing morally. That does bring about some relativism which could be used against the hanging, but then just comes off as saying no wrong was done which I don't take as the film's intent.

I feel like I've expanded on the substance a little hopefully negating that feeling somewhat. I thought my comment on aesthetic was a small portion of my whole post, but in case not I'm open to more talk. This is the earliest I've gone with Kieslowski aside from a few shorts so I do hope your substance comment proves as true for me as it does you. As it stands so far I only like the episodes I cited, episode ten, and Red.

I think my main problem with six is that it on one hand excuses some really awful behavior by the boy romanticizing his attempt while on the other the woman never seems to be engaged with as real. That makes sense when we see everything through his eyes, but when she takes the lead her superficial presentation does not change as well. It is almost like his dream of her finally realizing he is so super. It is just a toxic idea of love to me.


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 Post subject: Re: 837 Dekalog
PostPosted: Mon Mar 20, 2017 4:55 am 
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knives wrote:
I figure what you have said is his goal, but the film, in the short at least as I haven't seen the feature, gives the audience a lot to grab onto in that scene so as to make his death horrible. Perhaps I should have been more clear in saying that the handsome killer with a backstory comes into play in the film's second half, but I figured that would have been assumed. Making the cabbie unlikable is the only thing off putting about the initial act rather than allowing it to speak to its own brutality.

I'd have thought a rather bigger thing that's "off putting" about the initial act is the fact that it's a grotesquely prolonged act of cold-blooded murder! So much so - and I think this is very much Kieślowski's argument - that it quickly becomes irrelevant what sort of person is on the receiving end: we may initially feel a vicarious thrill that he's receiving his "comeuppance" (as though being murdered was in any way an appropriate response for a few unpleasant gestures), but as the murder goes on and on and on we're much more conscious of living in the here and now, of actually watching a flesh and blood human being having the life slowly and agonisingly snuffed out of him. Same with the killer's backstory later on: it's inadmissible as evidence, and has no impact on the implacability of the judicial execution, except as a suggestion that mid-1980s Warsaw is such a grim and oppressive place that it's hardly surprising that it turns people into psychopaths.

Quote:
This might be a good time to also refer to your HBO response, but to be clear I didn't mean modern HBO, but their productions contemporary to this film. If that's still not fair though how about comparing to Alan Clarke who certainly worked on small budgets and not even this series' 35mm and yet managed a much better aesthetic than the episodes I was referring to here, which obviously doesn't include episode five.

"A much better aesthetic" is subjective and therefore meaningless. Alan Clarke is a wholly different type of director from Krzysztof Kieślowski, and I can no more imagine him directing Blind Chance[/i), [i]The Double Life of Véronique or the early documentaries than I can imagine Kieślowski making Scum or The Firm. I suspect you're drawing these largely meaningless comparisons because you watched the Clarke and Kieślowski boxes in fairly quick succession.

Quote:
That aside done Clarke's own film against judicial killing, To Encourage the Others seems to have integrated its sympathies better than five. It still does a lot in the back half to make the one to be hanged sympathetic, but doesn't work up moralistic excuses for the killing.

I have read a great deal of critical appraisal of Dekalog Five and A Short Film About Killing over the last three decades, and you are honestly the only person that I've come across who thinks that making the taxi driver unpleasant constitutes "working up moralistic excuses for the killing". Kieślowski is doing no such thing - indeed, I suspect he'd be horrified that someone interpreted his film along those lines.

Instead, I'd argue that although To Encourage the Others is a very fine piece of dramatic narrative, it ultimately exploits the same clichés as most other anti-capital punishment polemics (admittedly Clarke was hamstrung by the fact that this was a true story), whereby the executed murderer was only peripherally involved with the capital crime, and whose innocence might have come through more clearly within a less vengeful system. Kieślowski is doing the exact opposite: his killer is as guilty as hell (and how!), and therefore in the eyes of the Polish judicial system at the time, he "deserves to die" - at which point Kieślowski grabs the audience by the collective scruff of its neck and says "Look, this is what 'capital punishment' actually means. Aside from being more polished and professional, what's the essential difference between it and what you witnessed earlier?". And I'd argue that it's by avoiding the usual manipulation that the film achieves its cumulative power: because it doesn't fall back on the usual clichés - indeed, because it seems to be consciously undermining them at every turn - the viewer can't ever relax.

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Kieslowski builds up to the killing as inevitable from the car crash on, but gives the killer time to be likable such as with the girls by the window and builds the victim as an earned murder through failing morally. That does bring about some relativism which could be used against the hanging, but then just comes off as saying no wrong was done which I don't take as the film's intent.

Again, this is utterly bizarre to me. How on earth is a man who randomly assaults people by pushing them into the runnel of a urinal "likeable"? And I have to say that I don't share your interpretation of the scene with the girls either - that's always played out as rather sinister to me. And, I repeat, in what warped moral universe is the killing of the taxi driver "an earned murder"? You seem to be bringing both an extremely strange value system and selective memory to this film, and are consequently largely missing its point - as you go on to confirm with the "comes off as saying no wrong was done" claim.

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I feel like I've expanded on the substance a little hopefully negating that feeling somewhat. I thought my comment on aesthetic was a small portion of my whole post, but in case not I'm open to more talk. This is the earliest I've gone with Kieslowski aside from a few shorts so I do hope your substance comment proves as true for me as it does you. As it stands so far I only like the episodes I cited, episode ten, and Red.

Well, Red to me was one of his most disappointing films, where he fully embraced what to me has always been a rather empty European "art-movie" feel to no particularly distinctive effect. I wasn't overly keen on Blue either (and I entered the cinema seriously expecting one of the most mindblowing cinematic experiences of my life) - in fact, of the last trilogy, I only really liked White, which has become more resonant over time thanks to its incisive portrait of the dog-eat-dog atmosphere of immediately post-Communist Poland, most likely because it has much more in common with Kieślowski's earlier work. Going from interviews, I think he knew how much he'd lost by leaving Poland, although he had the noblest methods for doing so: after Communism, film funding virtually collapsed and he was one of the few Polish filmmakers who could plausibly get international support - but in so doing, he had to jettison what made his earlier Polish films so distinctive.

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I think my main problem with six is that it on one hand excuses some really awful behavior by the boy romanticizing his attempt while on the other the woman never seems to be engaged with as real. That makes sense when we see everything through his eyes, but when she takes the lead her superficial presentation does not change as well. It is almost like his dream of her finally realizing he is so super. It is just a toxic idea of love to me.

Amusingly, you've absolutely nailed what the film is about while at the same time thinking that it's some kind of defect. In fact, Toxic Ideas About Love would be an entirely plausible (if commercially off-putting) title - the whole point of the film is that both the central characters, regardless of their age and experience, have deeply warped impressions of what constitutes "love", and at the very end he's arguably the more grown-up of the two. At the time, I much preferred the very different ending of the longer version, but Kieślowski always preferred the shorter one, and in retrospect I can see why: its abruptness is a very effective dramatic equivalent of the moment that virtually all of us has experienced when we suddenly find out, quickly and usually harshly, that our fantasy about a particular relationship doesn't remotely chime with the other person's, and most likely never will.

But I totally disagree that we never interpret Magda as "real" - on the contrary, I think both Kieślowski and Grażyna Szapołowska do an amazing job of creating a complex, nuanced character despite the challenge that she's mostly viewed inaudibly from a distance in the film's early stages.


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