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[Decalogue] Episode IX

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The closet POV shot is one of the grandest stylistic choices KK made in this series. Holds forever and forever and forever until she finally sees him. Great stuff!!

Also, nice to see (after my expectations of Three Colors) a gorgeous babe finally appear in Decalogue. The cute little singer girl (!!) -- thought this subplot was gonna go somewhere else, but it was a perfect contribution to the episode all the same, as well as a foreshadow of things to come in Double Life Of Veronique (as I said in the other thread).

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I just watched this last night for the first time -- most of it a second time. I agree... the closet shot was brilliantly handled. It perfectly captured the awkwardness of lateral head movement in the search for a viewing angle through the slit between the doors. And the camera seemed to shrink back at the moment of detection.

The sub-plot was a new device -- I don't think any of the other episodes really offered up anything similar. I'd be curious to hear any thoughts about how Roman's conversations with his heart patient could echo the main story. Perhaps there is something in the lyric of the opera that I missed, but it didn't seem to relate to the main story.

After Hanka's lover leaves the apartment and she and Roman talk, there is something wonderfully apt in his lack of strength or will. She tries to get a hug... positioning his arms so that she is actually hugging herself, using his arms, but he can't participate: his sexual dysfunction has robbed his masculinity.

The subtleties that make this such a rich series are here in abundance. One example:

After Roman returns from Krakow and Zagreb, and after Hanka has brought him in from the rain and hugged him dry with a towel, she entices him to bed.

"Are you tired?"

"No. (pause) Listen..."

"Tut! -- please, later."

And then we see her waiting in bed while he emerges from the bathroom with a towel tightly around himself, gets pajamas and returns to the bathroom. He locks the door, and seems to pause before the mirror before taking off the towel... ashamed, even when alone. And it turns out the pajama top is a long-sleeved turtleneck.

They talk about the loss of sex in their relationship, and Hanka (whose affair is surely already in progress), tells him, "Love is in one's heart not between one's legs. The things we have are more important than the things we do not have."

The crisis in their marriage is revealed slowly enough that, as usual, a second viewing provides an entirely new understanding of what is being said, felt.

(By the way... that early shot with the gas can is anything but subtle, isn't it?)

Other nice touches... Roman sees a little girl playing in the playground, and smiles: adoption might be okay...

The missed messages and the ringing phone. I wanted them to JUST ANSWER IT!!

And the final coversation on the phone:

Hanka: "You're there!"

Roman: "I am..."

One more thing... I incorrectly thought Artur Barcis was in VII -- he's not. But he is credited here, and I suppose he is the cyclist who sees Roman's fall and (presumably) goes for help. I'll have to watch again. I know Kieslowski said the Barcis character is not really symbolic of anything, but I think Krzysztof Piesiewicz worked too long and hard on these scripts for these ends to be totally loose. I'm curious to know more about this "young man."

"Could we ever know each other in the slightest without the arts?"

« Nous connaîtrions-nous seulement un peu nous-mêmes, sans les arts? »

Quoted on Canada's $20 bill; from Gabrielle Roy's novel La montagne secrète. The English translation, The Hidden Mountain, is by Harry L. Binsse.

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Whoa, your guys' Decalogue discussions keep getting shorter and shorter for each episode. Everyone has seen this one, right?

- Speaking as a healthy, normal young guy, I completely identify with the idea of wanting to kill yourself if you suddenly are impotent and can never have sex. I can't begin to fathom how hard and psychologically draining that would be. In Iraq, we always talked about just going out in a blaze of glory on some suicide mission if any IED shrapnel ever took out something important. Might have been a little irrational, but sometimes when the **** hit the fan, if you ever thought about it, sometimes you'd be more scared of getting hit in the wrong place than of being killed. So Roman's utter despair makes a lot of sense.

- This episode demonstrates how much Kieslowski can do with simple little objects. The phone ... turns into a symbol of the one thing that can destroy their marriage once the "boyfriend" starts calling Hanka. They're both always so slow to answer the damn thing because it becomes everything in their relationship that's wrong. Thus, for the last 15 minutes of the episode, once the phone turns into the one thing that can't save their relationship, they hesitate or ignore it because of what it has come to mean for them.

- And no one mentioned that damn glove compartment. I'm still not sure how much I missed about it the first time around, but it's inability to stay closed isn't a good thing. When it reveals a possession of the boyfriend to Roman, it literally stinks up the car. It can't be a coincidence that the book inside it gets covered in filth and garbage. Then, when everything is going well, the glove compartment is closed. Suddenly, the latch fails the very second that Roman sees the boyfriend heading out of town to join his wife.

- Also fantastic is how Hanka's "there are things in our marriage that are more important than sex" comment ends up more convincing to her than to Roman. She's the one who needed to hear that, and as soon as she says it, she seems to make the decision that she actually believes it. It's that very sentiment that ends her affair.

- The "thou shalt not covet" commandment is the one I've always found the most difficult to understand or wrestle with. It seems theologically correct to say that there is a proper distinction to be made between sinful desires and the act of sinning. We all have good and evil desires. Resisting our evil desires is part of becoming sanctified, but it's not wrong to have bad desires, it's just wrong to act upon them. But then we have a commandment against coveting - and coveting sounds awfully like a wrong desire to me. Is to covet to desire something that one knows that one ought not to have? If so, how exactly is Roman coveting anyhow? It isn't wrong for him to desire sex in his own marriage, and to thus be devastated once it is taken away from him. This becomes even more interesting as soon as you discover that the Hebrew and Greek words for "covet" "lust" and "desire" are all used interchangeably in Scripture to mean both good and bad sorts of coveting, lusting and desiring.

- I can understand, even from this episode, how the desiring of another's wife could turn into something ugly that could destroy the love that a husband and wife have for each other. But the fact that the guy doing this is not a main character makes you look at the commandment from another angle.

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