After several documentaries,
Krzysztof Kieslowski (Warsaw, 1941) directed the TV movie
Personel/ Personnel (1975), the film that launched the
"kino moralnego niepokoju" (cinema of moral anxiety),
a film mostly shot with a hand-held camera,
and the social realist drama
Blizna/ The Scar (1976), starring Franciszek Pieczka and a young Jerzy Stuhr, in which an honest and intelligent manager has to fight against obtuse bureaucrats and reluctant citizens in order to build a factory.
Spokoj/ Calm (1976, released in 1980), starring Jerzy Stuhr, is a harrowing neorealist film.
Z Punktu Widzenia Nocnego Portiera/ From the Point of View of the Night Porter (1977) is a documentary.
Przypadek/ Blind Chance (1977), unreleased till 1987, is another film
in the vein of the cinema of moral anxiety, and also the film that pushed
"fate" to the forefront of his cinema.
Amator/ Camera Buff (1979), starring Jerzy Stuhr in the lead role but which also stars Zanussi and other filmmakers as themselves, is again about "moral anxiety": a depressed filmmaker self-censors himself by
locking himself up in his own private life.
His films became increasingly personal especially after
Bez Konca/ No End/ Senza Fine (1984), which began his collaboration with
screenwriter Krzysztof Piesiewicz (and the one with composer Zbigniew Preisner):
a man who just died (a ghost) tells the viewers
that he was a lawyer defending a political activist and how his wife, devastated by his death, committed suicide.
Dekalog/ Decalogue (1988), loosely inspired by the ten commandments of
the Bible, is a set of ten short films that examine the decline of morality
They all take place in the same high-rise building, that is shown in different
The tales rarely share characters.
The austere and solemn tone, despite the ordinary stories set in ordinary
environments, feel like prayers.
Dekalog I is a relatively straightforward apologue on atheism. The
only cryptic aspect of it is the figure of the silent watcher
(the director himself? God itself? the protagonist years after the tragedy?)
that reappears several times without ever saying a word and without
having any apparent function in the plot.
A silent man is sitting by a lake on a winter day, staring sadly at the
landscape. In the streets of the city a woman is staring at at the window of
an electronics shop and starts crying while watching the images of children
who run and play. The silent watcher lowers his eyes and cries.
A child, Pavel, watches a pigeon that has flown up to the window of his apartment.
Pavel lives alone with his father after his mother died. Pavel
asks his dad for a mathematical problem. The father gives him a simple problem,
Pavel runs to his computer, programs the formula and is excited at obtaining
the solution. His father is some kind of high-technology genius who keeps two
computers in the house, one for his own professional research and one for his
child. The silent watcher warms up with a fire by the bank of the lake.
The child finds a dead dog in the snow. Returning home, he asks his father
why people die. The dad gives practical answers, but the child keeps asking
Pavel is shocked by the contrast between the pigeon looking for food and
the dead dog. At school he enjoys playing on the ice with his schoolmates.
(There is a quick satirical joke about sourmilk under communism when a tv
crew interviews the schoolmaster, a rare reference to contemporary politics).
The woman who was crying at the beginning takes the child home. She is his
aunt, his father's sister. Pavel shows her the computer-controlled lock of the
door and the computer controlled faucet of the bathroom sink, both inventions
of his father. Then he shows her the latest letters he received from his mother
through the computer (probably set up by his father to make him believe that
His father doesn't let him touch the main computer. Pavel
asks his aunt if the Pope knows the meaning of life.
She tries to explain God to him and decides that he is old enough and curious
enough that he should take religious lessons.
The silent watcher is still staring at the winter landscape while the sun
A girl plays chess against a whole bunch of adult player. Pavel's
father is the only one who beats her. When they return home, the
computer is on but the child didn't turn it on. The
computer responds to the father's question and instructions. It looks like the
father is slowly creating a sentient computer.
He is a professor and he tells his students that some day there might be
(The camera shows the hands as he is talking
and the child that stares at his dad).
At home the child asks for the skates that he knows his mother bought for him
as a Christmas gift. His father lets him compute if the ice is strong enough to
go skating on the lake. The results show that it is perfectly safe.
The dad has absolute trust in science, and also goes out to personally test
the ice in the midde of the night. The silent watcher is nearby.
The father tells the child that it's safe to skate but warns him against getting
near the lake, where the ice is probably thin (but that's precisely where
the silent watcher has been sitting).
The following day the man accidentally spreads ink all over his notes and his scientific book. A girl comes looking for Pavel. Rescue vehicles drive by with their sirens on. A mother phones worried that her child is not back from school.
He sees agitate neighbors run down the stairs. And still his faith in science
is such that he does not suspect for a second that something might have
happened to Pavel. Later he walks to the home of the
English teacher where the children were supposed to be, but she tells him
that she was sick and therefore sent the children home.
When told that the ice broke, he replies that the ice couldn't break,
still convinced that science prevails over God.
Even when he calls his sister, he still hesitates to mention that the ice broke.
She tells him that the child was planning to skate, believing in his calculations.
The man finally rushes to the lake, where a crowd is staring speechless at
the rescue crew. A child tells him that Pavel went to skate on the ice.
He finally accepts the truth.
Late at night the rescuers find and pull out the children from the ice.
At home he finds the computer on.
He runs to a church and destroys the altar.
The painting of the madonna starts crying.
Images of children at play flood the screen
(the images that the aunt was watching at the beginning?)
On the surface Dekalog II is about a woman's adultery. However, the real
protagonist might be the doctor. At first he doesn't want to play God when the
woman asks him whether her husband will live or die. But then the doctor has
to play God, willingly or unwillingly, because the life of an unborn baby
depends on his answer. Therefore the doctor has to play God, but not on the
patient that has been entrusted to him by society: on the baby that has by
accident become entangled with his life.
The film doesn't say anything about the doctor's own illness, that is shown
only and briefly at the beginning.
Note that Dekalog I is set in winter, and it is about a death; while
Dekalog II is set in spring, and it is about a birth.
The action is set in the same high-rise building, but this time the fields
are green, signaling that it's not winter anymore.
An old doctor in his apartment turns on the radio and listens to an English broadcast (another rare reference to politics). For a few seconds he is sick, apparently hit by a fit.
As he walks outside, he briefly meets a woman smoking nervously but they don't
exchange any words. Ditto when he walks back.
Finally she knocks at his door. Dorota lives in the same complex.
He doesn't remember but she is the wife of one of his patients.
The doctor is unfriendly and simply tells her that there are hours at the hospital for visits by relatives.
The doctor talks to a friend or maid, Barbara, about something that happened
in the past and involved his father.
Dorota listens to the messages and her answering machine but does not respond
to a Janek, who wants to talk to her.
Later the doctor tells her to come and see him.
She nervously destroys a plant.
At the hospital the doctor actually asks a nurse for the man's files.
Dorota is by his bed. The husband doesn't seem to recognize her.
The conversation between Dorota and the doctor is brief and rude.
Dorota wants to know if her husband will live or die.
The doctor simply tells her that it looks bad, but refuses to say whether the
man will live or die. In his bed the man hallucinates and sees water dripping
from the filthy plumbing of a room.
When the doctor leaves the hospital, Dorota follows him in her car.
She walks uninvited into his apartment and lights a cigarette without asking
She wants to know. It sounds like she is truly in love with her sick husband.
Then the real story comes out: she needs to know because she is pregnant of
another man. If her husband lives, she will get an abortion, otherwise she will keep the baby.
She asks the doctor if he believes in God and then asks him to ask God to forgive her
(implying that either she does not, or that God would not listen to her).
When she leaves, the doctor stares to the picture of a woman and two children.
She still has feelings for her husband and she decides to have an abortion.
She meets a man at a cafe who brings her greetings frm her lover. Her lover
is a musician who is abroad for a performance. She is supposed to join him and
already got her passport.
She never picks up the telephone when the lover calls. This time she does.
And she tells him she has decided for the abortion. Basicaly, she has decided
to break up.
When Barbara visits him again (or is it a continuation of the previous scene?),
the doctor continues the tale about his father: it is not only about his father,
but also about his wife and children, who were all killed during a bombing in
Dorota visits her husband and tells him that she loves him.
He has problem breathing, keeps seeing the water dripping from the walls into
a bucket, and doesn't reply.
Dorota tells the doctor that she has decided for the abortion. Then
the doctor tells her that her husband is dying, despite the fact that his
assistant just told him that there are signs of progress. The doctor basically
tells the woman not to have the abortion.
Dorota is a musician too, and the doctor tells her that he would like to come
The husband sees a bee in a glass that struggles not to drown and to get out
of the glass and survive.
The husband recovers and one day visits the doctor in his studio.
The man is happy that they are going to have a baby, clearly not knowing the
whole truth. The doctor congratulates him and lowers his eyes.
Dekalog III is convoluted but mediocre.
As a drunkard sings,
Santa Claus walks out of a car carrying his bag of gifts and walks through the snow towards the same apartment complex. While he enters the building, Pavel's father comes out. Santa Claus brings gifts to the children of a woman (his children and his wife), while another woman, Ewa, visits her old aunt. Then Ewa visits a church where Christmas mass is being held and exchanges looks with the man who was impersonating Santa Claus, but he avoids her. Later at night he drinks with his wife, but someone rings the bell. He answers in the intercom and then tells his wife that someone is stealing his car. As he walks outside, his wife does not look alarmed, as if she didn't believe it. Downstairs there is only the drunkard. Then Ewa appears: it's her who rang the bell, and he lied to meet her. He is irritated. She cries. She tells him that Eduard has disappeared and asks him to help her find him. The man goes back upstairs to tell his wife that their car has been stolen. He is a taxi driver and their livelihood depends on it, but the woman resents that he is leaving. Clearly, she has guessed the lie. He tells her to report the stolen car.
The man and Ewa start looking for the missing husband at the hospital, while exchanging bitter words (now it sounds like it's Ewa who resents the man for something he has done in the past, when they were lovers).
Then they visit the morgue where a corpse without legs has been recovered: Ewa
admits that she wished it was her husband, or him.
Then a police patrol recognizes the car and starts chasing them through the deserted streets of the city. They risk their life driving recklessly on icy streets but they are caught. The man proves that he is the owner of the car and they are released. But then he drives like a madman again, and almost loses control of the car. He drops her off under her apartment to check if the husband returned home. She walks upstairs alone and calls the police, reporting that her husband
has been injured at a bus stop. Then calls the man to come upstairs. They go over what happened three years earlier, when her husband found them in bed and let her choose whom she wanted. She chose her husband. She is neurotic. He realizes that noone has used the razor blade in a long time, and later she realizes that he has realized. In the meantime the man calls the police and hears about her husband's reported accident (not knowing that she is the one who reported it).
Next they visit a jail for alcoholics and meet the sadistic guard who uses a hose to spray cold water on his naked convicts (a metaphor for life under communism?) Finally from a picture that she has he understands that it has all been a lie. She confesses that Eduard left her and married another woman. She has been living alone all the time. Before committing suicide, she had decided to try one more time to get her old lover back. They say goodbye and part. He goes back to his wife, who is sleeping on the couch waiting for him. She has guessed the truth. But he tells her that he will not see Ewa again.
Dekalog IV is a morbid tale about a
man who doesn't want truth to destroy his life but instead it's his
fear of the truth that destroys his life, and is about a young woman
for whom knowledge of the truth is a liberation but also a curse, because
it opens a Freudian can of worms.
At the same time she becomes his conscience and his psychoanalyst.
One becomes the mirror of the other.
He is fundamentally a man who is afraid to face life, but knows what life
is and wants from him.
She, instead, would not be afraid to face life but is confused about what
life is and wants from her.
Eventually they decide that the best course of action is to let life go on
as it was.
She is a student of drama and this film feels very much like a psychological
drama that mostly takes place in one interior and involves only two characters.
Anna, a beautiful young woman, lives with her father. The two behave like two friends. One day he has
to take an airplane and she sees, next to the passport, a sealed envelope with
the writing "to be opened after my death". After she takes her father to the
airport, she becomes curious about the content of the envelope. At the same
time she realizes that there is something wrong with her eyesight. The mystery
makes her so anxious that she is rude to her boyfriend. She goes to a wood by
a lake and opens the envelope, while a young man is rowing across the lake.
When he lands on her shore, they stare at each other without speaking.
Inside the envelope there is a letter addressed to her. She cannot find the
strength to open it. She is student of drama, but in class she cannot
concentrate. She keeps thinking about the letter. She spends hours imitating
the handwriting: clearly she wants to open it and then seal it again.
We learn that it is from her mother, who died when Anna was five.
When her father lands,
she is waiting for him but outside the airport. She coldly stares at him
without saying a word. Then she starts reciting the letter. She has memorized
every word, like she does for the drama class. In the letter, to be opened
after the death of her father, her mother wrote that her father is not...
her father. He lets Anna finish and then slaps her in the face.
She is mad at him for lying at her for such a long time. She is even ready to
marry her boyfriend so as to move out. Her father confronts her. He never knew
for sure, but suspected that she was not his daughter; nonetheless he always
liked her like a daughter, and didn't want the truth to stand between them.
She tells him what the truth is: he wanted her to read the letter. She had known
of its existence for years, but he always took it with him. This time he left
it behind, and made sure that she saw it. He is now speechless. She confesses
that she always felt the truth because she had incestuous feelings for him:
she thought of him every time she had sex with a man. Now they don't know who
they are to each other anymore. She forces him to admit that he is afraid,
that he always felt for her what he felt for him. He admits that he was jealous
of her boyfriends. At the same time he wanted her to get married and have a
child, because that would have been an irreversible event. She vents her
anger at him: he wants things to happen but does not want to be the one who
makes them happen (just with the letter that he didn't give to her but left
for her to read). She now understands and make him understand why he didn't
remarry: he was subconsciously waiting for her to grow up. She undresses and
offers herself to him, but he resists the temptation. The following morning
she tells him that it was all a lie: she wrote the letter that she recited,
she never opened the one written by her mother. Basically, she made him
believe what she wanted him and herself to believe. They decide to burn the
Dekalog V, a mediocre meditation on the death penalty (so mediocre that one doesn't understand whether the director is in favor or against it), was also released as a separate film, Krotki film o Zabijaniu/ Short Film About Killing. The only interesting aspect of the film is the way the three stories are brought together in the first twenty minutes.
At the beginning three stories alternate quickly. There's a young man dressed
in suit and tie who talks about justice to an invisible crowd in a big room.
There's a middle-aged man who washes his taxi in the street and flirts with
a sexy girl who sells vegetables. There's a young punk who wanders around the
streets of downtown, indifferent to what happens (he doesn't do anything when
three kids chase and beat a man, he scares the pigeons of an old woman who
complains about his smoking, he drops a stone from a bridge that causes an accident in the street below). All three stories begin in a mirror: the student in suit and tie is reflected in a painting, the usual high-rise buildings where the taxi man lives are reflected in a door, and the street where the punk is walking is reflected in a window. The punk eventually walks into a photo shop and orders the enlargement of an old photo of a child. He cryptically asks the girl of the shop if she can tell whether the child in the photo is alive or dead.
The student is told by the invisible examiner that he passed and is now a lawyer.
Then the three stories intersect. The punk and the student enter the same cafe,
and the student sees the punk nervously playing with a rope.
The punk flags down the taxi of the middle-aged man and asks to be taken to another town. Then suddenly he brutally murders him: first tries to strangle him with the rope, then beats him on the head, then drags his lifeless body to the lake, then, as the man starts moving again, smashes his head with a big stone.
Fast forward to the trial: the punk has been defended by the lawyer, who failed
to save his life. The judge, though, commends him for his speech against
the death penalty.
Fast forward to the day of the execution: the punk tells the lawyer that he was devastated by the death of his little sister, accidentally killed by his buddy after they had been drinking together. The punk is taken away by the guards and executed. The lawyer is desperate that he couldn't do anything.
Dekalog VI was also released as
Krotki film o Milosci/ Short Film About Love. It sets in motion
an almost sadomaso
game between a woman who has had sex with many men but never experienced
love and a boy who has never had sex but is in love with her.
He wins because it turns out that she is the weaker one, no matter how weak he is.
A young attractive woman walks to the post office because she received a notice
that there is mail for her. The young male clerk, Tomek, tells her that there is nothing
and stares at her. It turns out that the kid is stalking her from a distance.
He lives in the apartment across from hers, and has installed a telescope on
a tripod in his room. He spies her while she paints her art, and when she
makes love with her boyfriend. Occasionally he calls her, without saying a word.
She is annoyed by the silent caller, but there is nothing she can do.
When at the store he overhears that the milkman is not delivering her milk,
he even take the job of milkman. When he sees her make love again, he reports
an emergency so that the police interrupts them.
He is the one sending her fake notices, so that she comes to the post office.
And one day finally he tells her the truth.
She realizes that the kid is a "peeping tom", Back at home, she lifts the
telephone's receiver, knowing that he must be looking at her. He calls her.
She just wants to tease him. She invites her lover and makes love with the
lights on, so that he can see. Then she tells her lover that they are being
spied, and the man walks outside looking for the kid. The kid walks downstairs
and faces him. The man punches him in the face. The following morning the woman
is awake when the kid delivers the milk, and is amused to see his blue eye.
She even invites him to come in. Now he is shy, defensive: after all, she is
much older than him. He tells her that
he loves her and invites her to a cafe. She accepts. He tells her that he has
been spying her for a year, and that it was a friend of his who told him about
her sexual exploits: he was peeping on her too.
He is an orphan who lives with an old woman. She misses a milk boy
who left for Australia. He admits that he has been stealing the letters from
Australia. She takes him home and keeps asking him questions. He admits he is
still a virgin. She even asks him to describe how she makes love to men,
but doesn't want him to call it "love". In the meantime his adoptive mother is
using the telescope in his room to follow the whole scene.
She tells him that she wants him and puts his hands under her clothes.
He ejaculates without even undressing. She coldly remarks that is all there
is to love. He runs away, ashamed and humiliated. Now feeling guilty, she
tries to get his attention at the window, but he has locked himself in the
bathroom and slit his wrist. She sees the ambulance and runs to his apartment.
A lonely woman whose biological son has left her,
the adoptive mother calmly tells her that she has always known of her adopted
son's secret hobby.
(The old woman was spying the boy who was spying the attractive woman).
She only tells her that he is at the hospital, not that he tried to commit
suicide, and discourages her from inquiring any further.
In the following days she waits anxiously for Tomek to reappear. She uses
binoculars to spy in his room. Now she is the "peeping tom", and she too out of
love. She learns from a mailman that Tomek tried to kill himself out of love.
One day the phone rings and the caller does not speak. Then she sees someone
at the boy's window. She goes to the post office and finds him at work.
Dekalog VII has an interesting premise, but fails to find a way to
develop it into a meaningful story. The "theft" fails, but it sounds more like
a failure within a life of failures (teenage pregnancy, expulsion from school)
than a lesson about stealing.
The camera explores the usual high-rise building and stops at a window.
A university student, Majka, is telling an older woman that she will not appeal her expulsion from school. She will go abroad.
Her father is repairing a piano while a child, Ania, is crying.
Majka tries her best to stop Ania's nightmare, but Ania keeps crying until
their mother comes.
Majka has applied for a passport for herself and for a child, but is told that
the child needs the parents' permission. She spies Ania
at the playground, and then kidnaps her under their mother's nose
at a children's show. Later she tells Ania that she, Majka, is her real mother,
and takes her to her real father, Wojtech, who at the time was a young teacher
and now is a failed writer. Majka was 16 at the time and agreed, to avoid the
scandal, to let people believe that Ania was her mother's second daughter.
Now she believes that her mother always wanted a second daughter but couldn't
have one, so her mother "stole" the child of her own daughter under the pretense
of protecting her honor. Wojtech had to go along with the plan because he was
risking jail for having sex with a minor.
Majka is determined to get her daughter and her life back. She calls her
mother, who threatens her and is not willing to give her back the legal
rights over Ania. Majka faces resistance on both sides: Ania refuses to call her
"mom" and at night has the usual nightmares that Majka does not know how to
stop; while her mother is going mad as if she had indeed lost a daughter
(in fact, she seems more attached to Ania than Majka, as she was happy that
Majka would go abroad). Majka, not trusting Wojtech, flees his house too
and takes Ania on a long trek through the green countryside. Majka calls her mother
again, who offers to share Ania with her, but Majka threatens to kill herself
and Ania if she doesn't get Ania fully to herself. Then she hangs up before
her mother can agree. Wojtech calls Majka's mother and tells her that Majka
was there but has run away again. Wojtech and Majka's mother decide to
look for the girls and start driving around. When Woytech finds a teddy bear
under a bridge, he fears that they may have drowned, but Majka is at the train
station. Her parents find her there. Ania runs into the arms of what she
believes to be her mother, the woman who raised her and always comforted her
during her nightmares. Majka jumps on the first train and they don't try to
stop her. Ania stares at the train going away, puzzled.
It is not clear what the message of
Dekalog VIII is. Nothing relevant happens.
An elderly woman exercises in a park. She picks flowers. It's springtime.
On the way home (the usual high-rise building) she meets a neighbor, who
is a stamp collector and is excited by his latest purchases. Then she drives
to the university in her old car. She is a respected professor. The dean
introduces her to a visitor from the USA, Elisabeth, who has translated some
of her works into English. Elisabeth has asked to attend her class.
The theme is ethics, and one of the students tells the story of Dekalog II.
The professor, always graceful, interrupts her and tells the audience that everybody knows
how the story ends: the child is alive. Elisabeth is upset by the story, though, and asks to tell another story. She tells of a six-year old Jewish child
during the war whom a very Catholic couple did not want to shelter because
it would have implied lying. This time it's the professor who looks disturbed
by the story. Elisabeth provides a lot of details about the story, as if to
prove that she was there in person. When the students leave, the two confront
each other: the professor is the woman who refused to shelter Elisabeth.
The professor has lived 40 years without knowing whether the child survived
or not, and is relieved to see her alive. They drive to the building where the
event took place, and Elisabeth cruelly hides to see the older woman panic
that she may have lost the child again. At home the old woman reveals that
the real reason to reject the child was that her husband was a member of the
resistance and they had been told that the child was being used as bait by
the Nazis to destroy the organization. When they realized the information was
false, it was too late. Now she's a widow, and her son lives far away.
Her only friend, the stamp collector, comes to visit her. She asks Elisabeth
to stay for the night. The following day she takes her to visit a man who
offered to help the little child, but the man doesn't want to talk about the
Dekalog IX is about a couple that rationally decides that sex is not
all there is to love, but then finds out that it is pretty much the most
important thing, as one feels betrayed and humiliated and the other one feels
guilty and selfish. In a sense, they both become impotent.
Is he just jealous, humiliated, curious...?
He pretends to be able to cope with her out-of-wedlock sex life: does he love
her so much, or is he just testing her to see how much she loves him?
She seems sincere when she says that she loves him, but then why does she
sleep with the boy?
Sex is not such a big deal... but it is.
A man, Roman, is talking to his doctor, who tells him that he will never be able
to have sex again. He even advises him to divorce his wife. The man is
devastated. He meets his wife when it is raining and tells her the truth.
He tells her that she can have lovers if she likes, and she tells him that
sex is not all there is to love. The man is actually a surgeon who works
at a hospital. One of his patients is a girl who wants to have heart surgery
because otherwise she cannot become the opera singer she has always dreamed
of becoming. At home Roman listens to the music that she wants to sing.
A man calls for his wife Hanka but doesn't leave a message.
Roman wiretaps his home's phone to spy on her calls. In the car he finds
a notebook of Physics by a Mariusz. At first he throws it in the garbage,
but then picks it up again, all dirty: it's a clue to who her lover is.
He even searches her purse. She works at an airline office.
One day Hanka is making love to her lover, who is a young student, while Roman
is sitting outside on the stairs, knowing what is going on.
She looks neither proud nor happy as she sits in the car after sex
with her head in her hands. Another time
Roman eavesdrops on her calling Mariusz and making an appointment.
Roman hides in a closet and watches as Hanka tells
Mariusz that she wants to end their affair.
(The camera shows the action from the closet).
After Mariusz leaves, Hanka finds Roman in the closet.
Hanka asks Roman if he wanted to se her in bed with another man.
Mariusz comes back to propose, but she just shuts the door into his face:
just a child thinking that sex means love.
Roman and Hanka hug and cry together.
They plan to adopt a child, and implicitly she pledges to remain faithful
to him. She goes away skiing. Roman at the hospital is confronted by the
girl who needs heart surgery who tells him that she hates him for advising
her against the surgery. By accident Roman sees Mariusz load skies on the
roof of his car and take off for the same ski resort. When he arrives, Hanka
understands that her husband must know and senses what that means: Roman will
think that she lied to him.
Roman, in fact, is devastated.
Hanka calls the hospital to talk to him and then calls home
but he has already gone out and has left a letter for her.
She takes the first bus back. He tries to kill himself by biking into
a ravine. (A silent bicyclist takes a look and then bikes away).
She walks into their house still wearing the skiing outfit.
Roman is at the hospital, where she learns that his wife left the skiing
resort right away. They finally connect by phone and are both reassured by
each other "being there".
starring Jerzy Stuhr,
is about honoring the father. The children despised their
father all their lives, but now that he is dead they inherit his passion
and his paranoia. In fact, they lose their minds. And eventually they also
lose the inheritance but find themselves again.
A rock star is playing in front of a wild crowd while an older man dressed like
a business man is frantically trying to reach the stage, as if he has something
important to tell the singer. They are brothers, Artur and
Jerzy, and they attend the funeral of their father.
After the funeral they enter their father's apartment. They accidentally
set off the alarm. The fish of the fishtank are dead because nobody fed them.
The only interesting thing is their father's stamp collection. He let his
family starve in order to create that collection, they bitterly remark.
A friend of their father comes to visit them: he wants payment for a debt that
the late father contracted with him. They have no money, but the man implies
that he would accept stamps as payment.
Artur is single, but Jerzy is married and has a child. He gives the child
three of the stamps as a gift.
Artur gets an estimate for just one of the stamps and realizes that
every collector knew their father. The chairman of the association volunteers
to take a look at the entire collection and reveals that those stamps are
worth millions. Artur and Jerzy hardly knew their father, and thought he was
just a selfish avar. Jerzy rushes home to rescue the three stamps but too late:
his child has traded them for worthless stamps. Jerzy finds out that the three
stamps have been purchased by a humble shopkeeper, who has all the documentation
to prove to the police that the transaction was legal.
They don't have money to pay the debt, but now they don't want to sell their
father's stamps. The more they realize the value of the inheritance, the more
paranoid they become about protecting it.
Jerzy spends the night studying his father's notes that are cryptic chronicles
of each stamp's life, as in a treasure hunt.
Artur tricks the dishonest shopkeeper and obtains the three stamps back.
Then he gets a guard dog for the apartment.
The dishonest shopkeeper comes to see them and tells them that their father's
most precious items are the stamps of a rare series, but their father never
completed the series: the shopkeeper has the missing stamp and is willing to
give it to them in return for a... kidney. His daughter needs it, and
Jerzy happens to have the right blood group.
Artur quits the band to devote himself to the stamps.
Jerzy finally accepts to give his kidney for the missing stamp.
They were criticizing their father for letting them starve but now they are
even willing to part with their own body organs.
While Jerzy is having the operation, someone breaks into the apartment and,
after affectionately caressing the dog, steals the whole collection.
After the operation Artur shows Jerzy the missing stamp...
but then also tells him that thieves stole everything.
Jerzy later asks for a meeting with the detective in charge of the case:
Jerzy suspects Artur because the dog did not attack the intruder.
Artur too asks to see the cop: he suspects Jerzy because he disabled the alarm
system. They both suspect each other. And they have both become addicted to
stamp collection: they buy stamps at the post office to start their own
collections from scratch. By accident they both see people with the same kind
of dog that was supposed to mount guard: it turns out those dogs are big
but very peaceful.
The brothers confess to each other.
They realize that they both bought the exact same series of stamps.
These ten films constitute a Bergman-esque autopsy of an imploding society.
They are relentlessly pessimistic parables in which individuals who are
struggling for spiritual survival are doomed to inevitable loneliness and defeat s by an implacable fate.
Their stories are full of ironic twists, of grotesque coincidence.
And they radiate profound humanity.
The enigmatic silent witness who appears briefly in each film adds
a metaphysical dimension.
Despite the fact that the ten episodes were photographed by ten different
cameramen, the ten films display a unity of style and atmosphere.
After the fall of communism, Kieslowski worked abroad because it had become
financially difficult to make films in Poland.
La Double Vie de Veronique/ The Double Life of Veronica (1991),
photographed by Slawomir Idziak, is a cryptic existential poem.
Weronika is a young and beautiful woman who is going through an important
stage of her life. She has her first lover, and tells her aunt, with whom
she lives. She is a fantastic singer and wins an important contest.
One day, while she is walking back home through a student demonstration,
she sees a bus of tourists, and a woman who likes like herself taking pictures.
During her first official recital, Weronika collapses and dies.
A young and beautiful French woman, Veronique, who looks exactly like Weronika,
is also having her first sexual experience. She is the tourist who took a
picture of Weronika, but clearly did not notice her. The two women are briefly
in the same place at the same time, but are otherwise unrelated.
Veronique is also a promising singer, but decides to quit her singing lessons.
One day she sees a puppeteer perform and is fascinated by the story.
In the meantime, somehow has been stalking her.
The stalker sends her puzzles, as if to test her intelligence, and one day
he simply sends her a tape with the recording of noises from a train station.
Veronique, intrigued, is smart enough to find out in which station and in
which bar the tape was made, and goes there. He is there waiting for her.
The stalker is the puppeteer. But Veronique is hurt when he tells her the
reason of his experiment: he wants to write a novel about a situation like
this. Veronique runs away and hides in a hotel, but he finds her, and she
lets him sleep in her room. In the morning, he looks at her pictures and sees the
picture of Weronika, that Veronique has never noticed. Veronique starts crying,
and the puppeteer starts kissing her and making love to her.
The following day, he makes two puppets that look like Veronique, and writes
a story about two girls born on the same day and the way one could feel what
was happening to the other.
Kieslowski's and Piesiewicz's
"Three Colors" trilogy, each one titled after a color of the French flag (representing liberty, equality and fraternity),
photographed again by Slawomir Idziak,
started with Blue/ Bleu (1993), a slow drill into a devastated
A little girl holds a candy outside the window of a car. There is a leak under
the car. The car crashes. The girl and the driver (her father) die.
Her mother, Julie, survives (although she tries to commit suicide when she
realizes what happened). The man was a famous husband, and the tv shows
the funeral. The media are also abuzz with gossip that she was writing his
compositions. A journalist asks her about the much-talked about concerto
that her husband was said to be working on: she denies it ever existed.
(The style of narration gets increasingly focused and linear
as she recovers from the wounds and begins to cope with grief).
Finally, Julie takes action. She drives to the country home, and orders
that everything be sold and everybody taken care of.
She refuses to say why. She gets rid of all memories, and throws away her
husband's last unfinished scores.
Then she leaves. She has decided to destroy her identity.
She even makes love to Olivier, her husband's assistant who has silently
loved her for years and has come to comfort her.
She then moves to Paris and rents an apartment under another name.
In the middle of the night she sees a kid beaten by other kids.
She spends her days doing nothing, just trying to forget, not to think.
She has chosen an anonymous loneliness, but the pain is still there, haunting
her (a boy returns a necklace he stole from the site of the accident and
tells her that her husband was still alive).
Olivier finds her but she is totally indifferent towards him.
She doesn't seem to get the peace she is craving for: her apartment is
infested with mice that keep her awake at night.
She visits her mother, who lives in a house for the elderly and
is losing her mind and has nothing to do all day.
Her neighbor Lucille, a prostitute and stripper, is her only friend.
While visiting her at the strip-tease club,
she sees on tv Olivier who explains how he rescued her husband's last
concerto and is working on finishing it. The tv shows images of Julie
over and over again.
She learns from Olivier that her husband had a lover, for several years.
Julie decides to visit her. Sandrine is a lawyer. And she has just found
out of being pregnant of the dead man.
(When Julie enters the tribunal, the character pleading his innocence is
the protagonist of the next part of the trilogy).
Driven by life back to her past, she decides to help Olivier finish the score.
It soon becomes obvious to Olivier that Julie is a first-rate composer,
and therefore the gossip was true: she was the real composer. And her
husband cheated on her while she made him a star.
Thus Olivier tells Julie that she has to reveal the truth.
She brings him the score and makes love to him, but this time she feels.
She is alive again. As they make love, she thinks of
the boy who found the necklace, her mother, Sandrine's belly... and then
she cries. Her tears are the last scene.
Colors tell a story of their own.
Blue, in general, seems to refer to her past.
Red seems to be the future, or at least far from her past.
Bialy/ Blanc/ White (1993), vastly inferior to Blue, is more of a comedy
than a tragedy, definitely different in tone from the other two "colors".
It loses in character analysis what it gains in plot dynamics.
In fact, the movie is more successful as a parody of capitalist Poland than as
a psychological drama of a humiliated man who is looking for revenge.
He achieves his goal of humiliating the woman who humiliated him.
In a Parisian tribunal,
a young, attractive and vicious French wife, Dominique, obtains a divorce
from her Polish husband Karol, on the grounds that he is impotent.
(For a second we see Julie from the previous movie enter the courtroom).
Karol is devastated.
Dominique is cruel and brutal. Determined to finish him off,
she closes their bank account, cancels his credit cards,
humilaties him sexually one more time,
and frames him for setting fire on the hairdressing salon that they shared.
He has to hide in the subway and beg for money playing a pocket comb.
Dominique has no mercy for him (she has an orgasm while he is listening
on the phone).
His only belonging is a large suitcase that he carries around.
A fellow Pole befriends him and helps him get back to Poland by smuggling him
on a plane in the suitcase. But the suitcase is stolen at the airport. When
the thieves open the suitcase and find a man in it, they beat him (he's
jacket is made in Russia) and leave him for dead in the snow. However, Karol
is happy to be home. He takes his suitcase and walks to his brother's place.
(These scenes of his return to Poland are quiet comic, as if the director
if making fun of his own country).
He is still dreaming of Dominique, but also has to find a job, while helping
his brother in their salon.
Hired as the bodyguard of an unprincipled capitalist,
he quickly understands how to make money in his chaotic country: he overhears
the capitalist plan to buy a land and buys it before him.
The very man who helped in Paris pays him to kill him: Karol shoots him with
a blank and the man still pays him.
When he finds out that he doublecrossed him,
the capitalist almost kills him, but Karol has written a will that will assign
the land to the church when he dies, a will that in catholic Poland is like
a life insurance.
The capitalist is forced to buy the land from him for ten times what he paid.
Soon, Karol becomes as heartless and greedy as the worst of the new capitalists
But Karol is still obsessed with Dominique. He calls her and she hangs up.
Karol comes up with a scheme to bring her to Poland: he rewrites his will
to leave her everything and then fakes his own death. Dominique flies to
Poland and cries at his funeral.
Then he waits for her in bed. She is surpised but hardly shocked.
The two make love and she has the orgasm of her life.
Now she loves him, but he disappears. He has planned his revenge by tipping
the police that his own death may have not been natural and that one person
had an obvious motive:
the police arrests Dominique for the homicide of Karol, and, of course,
they do not believe that Karol is alive.
Now Dominique experiences what Karol felt: in love, betrayed, humiliated,
Now Dominique is in jail.
Karol looks at her with binoculars. She gestures that she loves him and he cries (of happiness or remorse?).
Rouge/ Red (1994), possibly the best of the trilogy, seems to be a
metaphor about the difficulty of communicating.
A girl calls her boyfriend, who is far away. They rarely see each other.
At the same time, the phone rings in a nearby apartment: Auguste, a law
student who has a dog, picks up the phone and talks to his girlfriend.
There is an existentialist undercurrent that connects the three films and
the entire work of the director.
The lives of these characters are constrained to the point that very little
seems to happen. They mostly "are", just are.
The stories simply prime and test their existence and may cause tiny fluctuations
that eventually create big waves.
It is also a highly romantic ending to the trilogy, but not of the kind
that begins with sex and ends with eternal love. This romance is about a
friendship between a young lonely woman and an old isolated man. Zieslowski
removes sex from the equation.
There are echoes of Charlie Chaplin's Limelight, despite the fact
that this film is not about art but about life.
In the theater, they indulge in the same melancholy of contemplating the
impossibility of fulfilling their bond, the ineluctable forces of life that pull them apart.
It is also, and perhaps above all, another meditation on fate.
It is an essay on coincidence. A life is but a series of coincidences. The slightest events can have lifetime-long consequences.
In some weird way, this film is also a postmodernist act of genre revisionism:
Red defuses romance the same way Blue defused melodrama and White defused comedy.
Like the other chapters of the trilogy, it is probably also a solemn parable
for some profound meaning: but their parables are not easy to decipher.
The symbolism of the colors and of the characters is murky, fuzzy, loose.
The judge might be a metaphor for the director himself. The woman might be
a metaphor for the muse, or art itself.
After all, the judge
plays the role of God, but a God who is a mere witness, who knows
everything, but can't do anything (or doesn't want to do anything) to
change the world.
Valentine, an attractive fashion model, hits a dog with her car, and, feeling guilty,
she drives to the address she finds on the collar. The owner of the dog is
an old man who seems to live alone in an apartment with the door open.
He is indifferent to the news and refuses the dog. She takes the dog to
a veterinarian (who tells her the dog is pregnant) and adopts it.
She wins money at a slot machine and receives a cheque that she was not
expecting. But the day is ruined by an article in the newspaper about drug
addicts: the picture is of her brother's.
She asks someone (Marie) to leave a message for Marc to call her back.
She takes the dog to the park but the dog runs away, first into a church,
and then disappears. She guesses that the dog must have returned home,
and in fact finds him with the old man. The cheque was for him, to pay
for the veterinarian. But he doesn't want the dog: it's hers to take.
She gets a chance to wander around the house and finds out that the old man
is an odd pervert who has built a sophisticated device to listen into
his neighbords' telephone conversations. She hears a man talk to his lover.
She is disgusted, but the old man doesn't seem embarrassed at all. He challenges
her to go and tell the neighbor. She walks straight out determined to do just
that. The wife lets her in and tells her that her husband is on the phone.
Again, Valentine wanders around the house and so sees their daughter, who
is eavesdropping her dad's love conversation. Valentine finds an excuse
and walks out of the house, possibly afraid of doing more harm than good,
or embarrassed that the little girl already knows about her dad's love affair.
Valentine returns to the old man's house and confronts him. He is not ashamed:
his hobby doesn't do any harm, and doesn't change the course of events.
He used to be a judge and never knew what was the truth. Now at least he,
Joseph, knows the truth about everything that happens in his neighborhood.
Valentine seems shocked: she can relate the old man's cynicism to a young
friend, someone who discovered he was not his father's son. The judge guesses
that she is talking about her brother, and that her brother must have
become a junkie. She says she pities the old man,
but maybe she is also fascinated by how well he knows mankind.
Back home, she calls her mother and learns that her brother is visiting her.
Valentine talks to Marc, but Marc is just like the old man: indifferent
and cynical. He hangs up without even letting her finish her comments on
the newspaper's article.
As she stares at the telephone, she begs Michel to call.
Instead, Jacques the photographer calls. Her (very red) billboard is already all over town.
Michel calls at night. He is arrogant, insulting, jealous. She hangs up, hurt.
Valentine's phone calls are a source of unhappiness, in contrast to the old
man, who lives isolated, doesn't have friends, doesn't receive calls, but
listens to how phone calls affect other people's lives.
Auguste, the law student who lives near Valentine, walks out of the university
building with a smile, welcomed by
his girlfriend: he just graduated to become a judge.
(The girlfriend asks him if they asked him the question he read in the book that
he had dropped, but he doesn't seem to understand).
The retired judge, Joseph,
is staring at him: the young man is beginning the life that the judge just
While working out at the gym, Valentine reads another article in the newspaper:
someone found out about the judge who spies on his neighbords. She drives to
Joseph and swears she didn't tell a soul: he believes her because... he is the
one who has written to the newspaper (and to all the neighbors).
And he did so because she asked him to.
As they chat, he mentions the young couple. It turns out Auguste and his girlfriend are among the couples that the judge was spying on. He seems sure that
they will break up.
But the judge is mainly interested in the concept of justice, in the guilty
people who are set free and the innocents who are sentenced as guilty.
He has been hardened by his job, as if he never encountered humanity.
In the meantime, August has been trying in vain to call his girlfriend.
He takes the car and drives to her place. She doesn't answer the door. He
climbs the building to her apartment, and sees her in the middle of sex with
Valentine makes plans to visit Michel in England. She clearly misses him,
but he doesn't sound excited. Downstairs, Auguste parks his car and walks
back to his apartment in a suicidal mood.
Auguste ties his dog to a pole and leaves.
Valentine invites the judge to a fashion defile', and he shows up, remaining
in the empty theater after the audience has already left.
He tells her the story of when, a young student, he was in that theater and
had dropped a book from the balcony: when he found the book, it was open at
a certain page, and he read a few lines, and it turned out that was precisely
the question they asked him at the exam. (This is the story that
Auguste's girlfriend referred to: it turns out it happened in another life).
A violent storm is slamming doors and opening windows in the theater.
This time it is her turn to guess: she understands that he has been tormented
all his life by the memory of the woman he loved, a woman who betrayed him.
(Just like Auguste has just been betrayed by his girlfriend and can't find
peace). He was never able to forget, because he never met another woman whom
he could love. And he adds "Maybe you are the woman I never met".
Later in life, Joseph had a chance to take his revenge: he presided the trial
of the very man who stole his fiance', and convicted him. Then he retired.
Thus ends the story of Joseph's life.
Before leaving Valentine at the theater, he checks her ticket: it is red.
Valentine boards the ferry to England. By accident, Auguste is on the
same ferry. They have never met in the city where they live, but they
are now on the same boat. Workers take down Valentine's giant billboard from
the wall, while the storm begins to blow again.
The following day Joseph reads the newspaper: the ferry sank, but a few people
survived: Julie and Olivier of Bleu,
Karol and Dominique of Blanc, and Valentine and Auguste
of Rouge (the picture of Valentine on tv is exactly like the one in
the red billboard). The first two are already couples. Valentine and Auguste
don't know yet that they are going to be a couple.
This is where the symmetry between Joseph's life and Auguste ends: Auguste
does find the woman whom Joseph never met. At the same time, the two lives
are now identical: Auguste meets the woman whom Joseph finally met after
waiting all his life.
Krzysztof Kieslowski, who had declared he would never direct a film again,
died in march 1996 at the age of 54.
(Translation by/ Tradotto da Andrea Beccarini Crescenzi)
La Double Vie de Veronique/ The Double Life of Veronica/ La Doppia Vita di Veronica (1991)
Weronika e’ una giovane è bella ragazza che sta attraversando un momento molto importante della propria vita. Ha appena incontrato il suo primo amante, e lo racconta alla zia, con la quale vive. La ragazza è una fantastica cantante e vince un importante concorso. Un giorno, mentre tornando a casa si imbatte in una manifestazione studentesca, vede da lontano un autobus di turisti, e nota una donna che sta scattando delle foto nella sua direzione: la donna le sembra identica a lei. Durante il primo concerto ufficiale, Weronika ha un attacco di cuore e muore.
Una giovane e bella donna, Veronique, identica a Weronika, sta anche lei avendo la prima esperienza sessuale. E’ la stessa turista che aveva scattato delle foto a Veronique, ma non si era accorta del caso. Le due ragazze erano state brevemente nello stesso posto e nello stesso momento, ma non sono in alcun modo imparentate.
Anche Veronique e’ una promettente cantante, ma decide di abbandonare le lezioni di canto. Un giorno vede un burattinaio al lavoro durante una rappresentazione di marionette, e rimane affascinata dalla storia che questi racconta. Nel frattempo, inizia ad essere perseguitata al telefono da uno sconosciuto, che le spedisce dei rebus sotto forma di oggetti, come se volesse testare la sua intelligenza. Uno di questi e’ una cassetta con sopra registrati dei rumori di una stazione ferroviaria. Veronique, intrigata, e’ abbastanza arguta per scoprire qual’e’ la stazione e in quale bar la cassetta e’ stata registrata, e si presenta sul luogo. Lo sconosciuto la sta aspettando, ed in esso si riconosce il burattinaio. Ma Veronique si sente presa in giro nel momento in cui lui le spiega che tutto questo si tratta di un esperimento: vuole semplicemente scrivere una storia ispirata ad una situazione come questa. Veronique se ne va e si nasconde in un hotel, ma lui la scova: lei infine gli permette di salire in camera e di rimanere a dormire nella stanza. Al mattino, lui da’ uno sguardo alle fotografie di Veronique, e in una di queste riconosce Weronika, che Veronique non aveva mai notato. Veronique scoppia a piangere, e il burattinaio inizia a baciarla. I due fanno l’amore. Il giorno seguente, il burattinaio costruisce due marionette con le fattezze di Veronique, e scrive una storia che narra di due ragazze nate lo stesso giorno e il modo in cui riescono a sentire a distanza cosa sta succedendo all’altra.
La trilogia "Tre Colori" (che rappresentano libertà, uguaglianza e fraternità) inizia con Blue/ Bleu/ Blu (1993), un lento scandaglio dentro la psiche devastata di una donna.
Una bambina tiene in mano un lecca-lecca fuori dal finestrino di una macchina. Sotto di essa si inttravede una macchia d’olio. La macchina si schianta. La bambina e il guidatore (il padre) muoiono. La madre, Julie, sopravvive (sebbene tenti il suicidio immediatamente dopo aver realizzato quanto accaduto). Il marito era un importante compositore d’orchestra, e le immagini de funerale vengono mostrate alla televisione. I media avanzano indiscrezioni sul fatto che fosse la moglie a scrivere le sue composizioni. Un giornalista le chiede lumi a proposito di un presunto concerto sul quale il marito sembrava stesse lavorando prima di morire: lei afferma che è tutta un’invenzione, e che il concerto non e’ mai esistito. (Lo stile della narrazione diviene sempre più lineare man mano che la donna si rimette dalle ferite dell’incidente ed inizia a sopportare il dolore dell’accaduto).
Finalmente, Julie entra in azione. Torna al paese dove abitavano, e una volta a casa ordina di vendere tutto: si rifiuta di spiegare il perche’. Inizia così a fare tabula rasa di tutti i ricordi, e butta via anche gli ultimi spartiti incompiuti del marito. Poi parte: è decisa di distruggere la sua vecchia identita’. Una sera invita Olivier, l’assistente del marito da sempre silenziosamente innamorato di lei, e fanno l’amore. Poi si trasferisce a Parigi e affitta un appartamento sotto falso nome. Una notte vede dei ragazzini che picchiano un loro coetaneo. La donna passa le sue giornate senza fare niente, solo cercando di dimenticare, e non di pensare. Si e’ scelta una solitudine anonima, ma il dolore e’ sempre presente, e la tormenta in ogni modo (un ragazzo le riporta una collana che aveva rubato dal luogo dell’incidente dicendole che il marito è ancora vivo). Olivier la trova, ma lei si dimostra assolutamente indifferente nei suoi confronti.
Non sembra che comunque riesca a trovare la pace che sta disperatamente cercando: il suo appartamentento e’ infestato di topi, che la tengono sveglia anche di notte. Un giorno fa visita alla madre in una casa di riposo per anziani, che ha ormai perduto il senno.
La sua vicina Lucille, una prostituta e spogliarellista, e’ la sua unica amica. Mentre le sta facendo visita al night-club dove lavora, vede in tv Olivier che spiega come sia riuscito a salvare gli spartiti dell’ultimo concerto del marito e di come stia tentando di terminare l’opera. La tv mostra inoltre molte immagini di Julie.
Apprende da Olivier che il marito aveva un’amante, ormai da molti anni. Julie decide di conoscerla. Sandrine e’ un’avvocato ed ha appena scoperto di essere incinta del marito di Julie. (Quando Julie entra nel tribunale, il personaggio che sta invocando la sua innocenza e’ il protagonista della prossima parte della trilogia, Blanc).
Riportata alla realta’ dal passato appena svelato, decide di aiutare Olivier a finire l’opera. Presto diventa chiaro che sia Julie che Olivier sono compositori professionisti, e questo dimostra che le indiscrezioni erano fondate: era lei la vera compositrice. E suo marito l’ha sempre imbrogliata, mentre invece lei faceva di lui una star. Anche Olivier dice a Julie di rivelare la verità. Lei gli porta la composizione ormai finita, e fanno nuovamente l’amore: ma stavolta, Julie prova dei sentimenti. E’ di nuovo viva. Mentre fanno l’amore, ripensa al ragazzo che ha trovato la collana, a sua madre, a Sandrine incinta… e infine piange. Le sue lacrime sono l’ultima scena.
Colors racconta delle storie: Blue, in generale, sembra riferirsi al passato. Red sembra essere il futuro, o quantomeno un tempo lontano dal passato.
(Translation by/ Tradotto da Alessandra Biasi)
White (1993), ampiamente inferiore rispetto a Blue, e` piu` una
commedia che una tragedia. Il film
perde nell`analisi dei caratteri quello che guadagna nella
dinamicita` dell`intreccio. Di fatto, il film e` meglio riuscito come
parodia della Polonia capitalista piuttosto che come dramma psicologico
di un uomo umiliato.
In un tribunale parigino, Dominique, una giovane, attraente e viziosa
moglie francese, ottiene il divorzio da Karol, il marito polacco,
adducendo come causa l`impotenza di quest`ultimo. Karol e` disperato.
Dominique e` crudele e brutale. Determinata a dargli il colpo di
grazia, chiude il conto in banca comune, cancella la carta di credito
di Karol, continua a umiliarlo sessualmente e lo incolpa di aver dato
fuoco al negozio di coiffeurs di loro proprieta`. Karol deve
nascondersi nella metropolitana e chiedere denaro suonando un pettine
Dominique non ha pieta` di lui (ha un orgasmo mentre lui sta ascoltando
al telefono). Gli unici effetti personali di Karol sono in una grande
valigia che si porta dietro. Un compagno Polacco gli da` una mano e lo
aiuta a tornare in Polonia facendolo salire in un aereo nascosto in una
valigia. Ma la valigia viene rubata in aeroporto. Quando i ladri aprono
la valigia e vi trovano un uomo, lo picchiano (la sua giacca e` "made
in Russia") e lo lasciano quasi morto nella neve. Comunque, Karol e`
felice di essere a casa. Prende la sua valigia e va la` dove puo`
trovare suo fratello.
(questa scena del ritorno in Polonia e` quasi comica, come se il regista
si stesse facendo gioco del suo stesso paese). Karol sta ancora
sognando Dominique, ma deve anche trovare un lavoro, mentre aiuta suo
fratello nel suo salon. Assunto come guardia del corpo di un
capitalista senza scrupoli , egli rapidamente capisce il modo in cui
far soldi nel suo caotico paese: riesce a captare il piano del
capitalista di comprare una terra e la compra prima di lui.
Lo stesso uomo che l`ha aiutato in Parigi lo paga per ucciderlo: Karol
lo spara con una cartuccia a salve e l`uomo tranquillo lo paga. Quando
scopre il doppio gioco, il capitalista quasi lo uccide, ma Karol ha
scritto un testamento che assegnera` la terra alla chiesa quando sara`
morto, volonta` che nella cattolica Polonia e` come un`assicurazione
sulla vita. Il capitalista e` costretto a comprare la terra da lui per
un prezzo dieci volte superiore a quello pagato.
Presto, Karol diventa spietato e avido come il peggiore dei nuovi
Ma Karol e` ancora ossessionato da Dominique. La chiama e lei mette
giu`. Karol ricorre a un piano per portarla in Polonia: riscrive il suo
testamento e lascia a lei ogni cosa, quindi finge di essere morto.
Dominique arriva in Polonia e piange al suo funerale. E lui l`aspetta a
letto. Dominique e` sorpresa ma fortemente scioccata. I due fanno
l`amore e lei prova l`orgasmo della sua vita. Adesso lo ama, ma lui
scompare. Karol ha pianificato la sua vendetta, facendo una soffiata
alla polizia sul fatto che la sua morte potrebbe non essere stata
naturale e che giusto una persona avrebbe un ovvio motivo: la polizia
arresta Dominique per l'omicidio di Karol, loro di certo non credono
che Karol sia vivo. Ora Dominique prova quello che ha sentito Karol:
innamorata, maltrattata,umiliata, rovinata.
Ora Dominique e` in carcere. Karol guarda verso di lei con un binocolo e
(Translation by/ Tradotto da Andrea Beccarini Crescenzi)
Rouge/ Red/ Rosso (1994), forse il migliore della trilogia, appare come una metafora sui problemi e le difficolta’ della comunicazione.
Sembra esserci un filo conduttore esistenziale che connette i tre film e l’intero lavoro del regista. Le vite dei personaggi sono inaridite a tal punto che ben poco pare debba accadere. In particolar modo ‘sono’, semplicemente sono. Le storie si limitano a costruirne e testarne l’esistenza, causando piccole increspature che finiscono con il creare enormi onde.
Rouge e’ anche il culmine romantico che chiude la trilogia, ma non di quelli che iniziano con il sesso e terminano con l’amore eterno. Questo romanzo narra dell’amicizia tra una giovane ragazza ed un uomo anziano e isolato. Kieslowski elimina il sesso dall’equazione. Ci sono echi di Luci della ribalta di Charlie Chaplin, nonostante questo film non parli di arte, ma di vita. Nel teatro, i due protagonisti indulgono nella stessa malinconia che deriva dal contemplare l’impossibilita’ di unire i loro legami, le forze ineluttabili che li tengono separati.
E’ anche, e forse soprattutto, un’ennesima meditazione sul destino. E’ un saggio sulle coincidenze. La vita non è altro che una serie di coincidenze, dove gli eventi più irrilevanti possono avere conseguenze durevoli per l’eternita’.
In un qualche modo bizzarro, il film e’ anche un tentativo post-moderno di revisione dei generi: Rouge rifiuta il romanzo allo stesso modo in cui Blue rifiuta il melodramma e Blanc rifiuta la commedia.
Così come gli altri capitoli della trilogia, il film rappresenta una parabola solenne di qualche profondo significato: queste parabole non sono pero’ facili da decifrare. Il simbolismo dei colori e dei protagonisti e’ oscuro, sfocato, distaccato. Il giudice potrebbe essere la metafora del regista stesso, la donna potrebbe essere la metafora della musa e/o dell’arte che racchiude in se’.
Dopotutto, il giudice gioca il ruolo di Dio, ma di un Dio che risulta essere un mero testimone, che e’ a conoscenza di tutti gli eventi ma che non puo’ (o non vuole) fare niente per cambiare gli eventi.
Valentine, un’attraente modella, telefona al fidanzato lontano. Si intuisce che si vedono raramente. Nello stesso istante, un altro telefono squilla in un appartamento adiacente: Auguste, uno studente di legge che vive da solo con il suo cane, risponde e inizia a parlare con la sua fidanzata.
La sera, mentre sta guidando, Valentine investe un cane, e sentendosi in colpa, raggiunge l’indirizzo che trova scritto sul collare. Il proprietario del cane e’ un anziano signore che vive da solo, Valentine trova la porta aperta ed entra nell’appartamento. L’uomo e’ indifferente al racconto della ragazza e rifiuta di riprendersi il cane. Allora lei lo porta da un veterinario (che l’avvisa che il cane è incinta) e decide di adottarlo.
Il giorno dopo, Valentine vince ad una slot machine e riceve un assegno che non aspettava. Ma la sua giornata e’ segnata da un’articolo che legge sul giornale e che riporta un fatto di droga: e la foto del giornale ritrae il fratello della ragazza, Marc. Chiede ad una certa Marie di lasciare un messaggio per lui, pregando di venire richiamata. Porta fuori il cane nel parco ma questo scappa: dapprima si rifugia in una chiesa, poi sparisce.
Valentine intuisce che il cane potrebbe essere fuggito verso la sua vecchia casa, e infatti lo trova lì, insieme all’anziano signore. L’assegno era per lei, per le spese del veterinario, ma il proprietario insiste nel non volere piu’ il cane. La ragazza ha l’occasione di girare per la casa e scopre che l’uomo e’ uno strano pervertito che ha costruito un sofisticato marchingegno per ascoltare le conversazioni telefoniche dei vicini. Si sente parlare un uomo con il suo amante. Lei e’ disgustata, ma l’uomo non sembra per nulla imbarazzato.
Lui la sfida dicendole di andare a raccontare tutto ai vicini, e la ragazza esce di casa, determinata a farlo sul serio. La moglie dell’uomo che parlava al telefono la lascia entrare e le dice che il marito e’ al telefono. Nuovamente Valentine si ritrova a girare per la casa e vede la figlia della coppia, che sta ascoltando di nascosto, da un altro apparecchio, la conversazione d’amore del padre. Valentine trova una scusa per andarsene, forse impaurita di stare facendo peggio che meglio, o forse imbarazzata dal fatto che la bambina gia’ sia a conoscenza delle storie del padre.
Valentine torna a casa dell’uomo e si confronta con lui. Ma lui non prova vergogna: il suo ‘hobby’ non provoca alcun dolore a nessuno, e non cambia il corso degli eventi. Racconta di essere stato un giudice, e di non avere mai saputo con certezza quali fossero le verita’. Adesso almeno, Joseph, conosce la verita’ di tutto cio’ che accade nel vicinato. Valentine sembra scioccata: prendendo spunto dal cinismo dell’uomo, racconta la storia di un giovane amico, che ha scoperto in età adolescenziale di non essere figlio del proprio padre. Il giudice intuisce che sta parlando di suo fratello, e che suo fratello ha avuto problemi con le droghe. La ragazza, stizzita, dice di provare pieta’ per l’uomo, ma resta anche affascinata da quanto bene egli sembra conoscere il genere umano.
Tornata a casa, chiama la madre e viene a sapere che il fratello le ha fatto visita. Valentine parla con Marc, ma Marc sembra essere proprio come il vecchio giudice: indifferente e cinico. Attacca la cornetta senza che lei non abbia nemmeno finito di parlargli dell’articolo del giornale. Mentre resta immobile fissando l’apparecchio, prega che Michel la chiami. Invece telefona Jacques, il fotografo: il manifesto (rosso) scaturito da un precedente servizio fotografico, che la ritrae in primo piano, sta gia’ campeggiando su un cartellone pubblicitario del paese. Michel telefona la sera: e’ arrogante, geloso, quasi la insulta. Lei attacca, indispettita e ferita.
Le telefonate di Valentine sono un concentrato di infelicita’, in contrasto con la vita del vecchio uomo, che vive isolato, non ha amici, non riceve chiamate, ma che analizza il modo in cui le telefonate influenzano le vite degli altri.
Auguste, lo studente di legge che abita vicino a casa di Valentine, esce dall’universita’ e viene salutato dalla fidanzata: ha appena superato l’esame per poter esercitare la professione di giudice (la ragazza chiede se gli hanno fatto la domanda che il ragazzo aveva letto sulla pagina rimasta aperta di un libro che gli era caduto, lui sorride, non nega e la accarezza). Il giudice in pensione, Joseph, si ritrova ad essere il primo imputato di Auguste, nella causa intentata contro di lui dal vicinato: il giovane uomo sta iniziando la vita che il giudice ha appena terminato.
Mentre Valentine sta facendo esercizi in palestra, legge un altro articolo sul giornale: qualcuno ha scoperto che il giudice spiava i suoi vicini. Va da Joseph e giura di non essere stata lei a rivelare il fatto: lui le crede perche’… e’ stato lui stesso a scrivere una lettera al giornale (e a tutti i suoi vicini). E lo ha fatto perche’ lei gli aveva chiesto di farlo.
Mentre chiacchierano, il giudice menziona la giovane coppia. Si intende che Auguste e la sua fidanzata erano una delle coppie che egli spiava. Lui sembra certo che la loro storia finira’ presto. Il giudice rivela di essere sempre stato ossessionato dal concetto di giustizia, dalle persone colpevoli che non vengono condannate, e dagli innocenti che vengono giudicati colpevoli. E’ stato inaridito dagli anni con il suo lavoro, come se non avesse mai incontrato umanita’ alcuna.
Nel frattempo, Auguste sta provando invano a telefonare alla sua ragazza. Prende la macchina e va a casa sua, ma lei non risponde al citofono. Si arrampica sul balcone del suo appartamento e guarda dalla finestra: la vede sul letto mentre sta facendo sesso con un altro uomo.
Valentine pianifica una visita a Michel in Inghilterra. Sente chiaramente la sua mancanza, ma non sembra entusiasta della cosa. Giu’ in strada, Auguste parcheggia la macchina e rientra in casa in uno stato d’animo prossimo al suicidio. Poi esce, lega il proprio cane ad un palo e se ne va.
Valentine invita il giudice ad una sfilata che la vedra’ partecipare, ed egli si presenta all’appuntamento, rimanendo all’interno del teatro anche dopo che tutto il pubblico se ne e’ andato. Lui, mostrandole il posto dove era seduto, le narra l’aneddoto di quando una volta, da giovane studente, gli cadde un libro dal balcone dello stesso posto: quando scese nella platea per recuperarlo, il libro era aperto ad una certa pagina, ne lesse alcune righe, e quella si rivelo’ essere la domanda che gli avrebbero fatto all’esame d’ammissione alla magistratura (questa e’ la stessa storia a cui aveva accennato la ragazza di Auguste: e’ gia’ accaduta in un’altra vita).
Una violenta tempesta sta facendo sbattere le porte e le finestre del teatro. Questa volta e’ la ragazza che coglie il punto: capisce che l’uomo e’ stato tormentato per tutta la vita dal ricordo di una donna che amava, una donna che lo aveva tradito (allo stesso modo in cui Auguste e’ stato tradito dalla sua ragazza, e a causa della quale non riesce a trovare pace). Non e’ mai stato in grado di dimenticare, perché non ha mai incontrato un’altra donna che potesse amare. Lui aggiunge: "Forse perché non ho incontrato lei" (testo originale: ‘Forse tu sei la donna che non ho mai incontrato.’). Durante la sua vita, Joseph aveva avuto modo di prendersi la sua rivincita: era stato messo a capo del processo contro l’uomo che gli aveva rubato la fidanzata, e lo aveva giudicato colpevole, nonostante non lo fosse. Il giudice rivela che quello fu il caso che lo porto’ a ritirarsi dall’attivita’, e qui’ termina il racconto della vita di Joseph. Prima che i due si congedino, Valentine mostra il biglietto del viaggio in Inghilterra: e’ rosso.
Valentine si imbarca sul battello per l’Inghilterra. Per puro caso, Auguste e’ sullo stesso battello, insieme al suo cane: i due non si sono mai incontrati nella citta’ dove vivono, ma adesso sono ‘sulla stessa barca’. Alcuni lavoratori, intanto, staccano il manifesto gigante che ritrae Valentine, mentre la tempesta riinizia a soffiare.
Il giorno seguente Joseph legge il giornale: il battello e’ affondato, ma alcune persone sono sopravvissute: Julie e Olivier di Bleu, Karol e Dominique di Blanc, Valentine e Auguste di Rouge (l’immagine di Valentine alla tv è esattamente la stessa di quella ritratta sul manifesto rosso). I primi sono già una coppia, gli altri due lo sono stati. Valentine e Auguste non sanno che stanno per diventarlo.
Questo è il punto in cui la simmetria tra la vita di Joseph e quella di Auguste termina: Auguste trova la donna che Jospeh non ha mai incontrato. Ma nello stesso momento, le due vite sono nuovamente identiche: Auguste incontra la donna che Jospeh ha finalmente trovato dopo avere aspettato tutta la vita.
Krzysztof Kieslowski, dopo aver dichiarato che non avrebbe mai piu’ diretto un film, mori’ nel marzo del 1996.
Jerzy Stuhr diresse la sua sceneggiatura Duze Zwierze/ The Big Animal (2000).