Robert E. Yahnke
The Films of Krzysztof Kieslowski, 1941-1996
"If I have a goal, then it is to escape from this literalism. I'll never achieve it; in the same way that I'll never manage to describe what really dwells within my character, although I keep on trying. . . . I can identify with what Bergman says about life, about what he says about love. I identify more or less with his attitude towards the world... towards men and women and what we do in everyday life... [that we forget] about what is most important.”
Trois Couleurs: Red (1994). The film’s theme is fraternity, which it examines by showing characters whose lives gradually become closely interconnected, with bonds forming between two characters who appear to have little in common.
Trois Couleurs; White (1994). This film illustrates the second theme, equality, through the two desires of the protagonist Karol Karol: improving his station in life and a desire for revenge.
Trois Couleurs: Blue (1993). According to Kieślowski, the subject of the film is liberty specifically emotional liberty, rather than its social or political meaning. Set in Paris, it depicts Julie, a woman whose husband and child are killed in a car accident. Suddenly set free from her familial bonds, Julie attempts to cut herself off from everything and live in isolation from her former ties.
The Double Life of Veronique (1991). The film follows the lives of a young Polish woman, Weronicka, and then a young French woman, Véronique, both played by Irène Jacob. Though unrelated, the two appear identical, share many personality traits, and seem to be aware of each other on some level, as if they are doppelgangers. Except for a brief glimpse through a bus window, they never meet. After Weronika sacrifices everything in the pursuit of her singing career, Véronique abandons her own similar goal because of poor health and attempts to find an independent course for her life. One of the questions raised in the film: is there such a thing as free will, or is it up to a creator of some kind, or is it just a matter of chance that one acts and thinks as one does? [Information on the films above from Wikipedia.]
The Decalogue (1989-1990) for Polish TV (Some examples from the 10 films—each based on one
of the Ten Commandments):
I am the Lord thy God. . .. A university professor trusts his computer over his common sense
to tragic results
Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord God in vain. . . A woman’s husband is dying, and she is pregnant by another man. Should she have the child or have an abortion?
Honor thy father and thy mother . . . A young woman finds a sealed envelope in her father’s
room—“Open only in the event of my death.” She opens it and learns that she is not
her father’s biological daughter—and new relationships ensue.
Thou shalt not kill . . . A young man randomly murders a taxi driver and is given a new
lawyer to defend him—with tragic consequences.
Thou shalt not commit adultery . . . A young worker is obsessed with his promiscuous
neighbor, spying on her, and taking a delivery job to get closer to her.