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[Decalogue] Episode III

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A cuckolded husband receives an anonymous call informing him of the very time and place of his wife

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Great comments, Alan.

But perhaps part of the irony here is that Janusz learns to find some happiness in his marriage--perhaps it was this encounter with Ewa that enabled him to see how self-centered the affair was?

I'm not sure. I think there's a pervading drollness that clouds his relationship with his wife. We know little of their history, but I feel sad to see him pull away from her touch. She sounds so hopeful when talking about going skiiing. I think that duty compels him to return, and while that is an appropriate motivation when all else fails, I hope that he can muster the enthusiasm his wife seems to exhibit. The last scene might open that door.

I'd say he does it becuase he wants to tie up some loose ends with Ewa--and let's face it, she's very beautiful. However, I kept writing "PSYCHO" in my notes. Presumably their affair was self-destructive for both of them?

He may have more of an emotional connection to her, in all her unhingedness, than he does to his wife. They're broken people who are drawn to each other.

I missed the watcher--I thought perhaps he was the drunk who we saw hauling around the Christmas tree. Also after we see Krystzof, the camera pans to an indoor, family shot, as if to underscroe what Krystzof has lost, and the very importance of family that Janusz is about to take for granted.

Yeah, Krystzof turns his head and follows Janusz into his apartment. It's convenient that he lives on the ground floor.

On a thematic level, I'm beginning to see a pattern emerge. The first two movies were linked by the role of scientific rationalism. The second and third movies are united by the sanctity of marriage.

I really like this observation.

I think, given the spiritual illiteracy of the intended audience of this film, it is reasonble to transfer the sanctity of the Sabbath to a high holy day: Christmas. The issue is that a day has been set aside, with the full knowledge and consent of the players, who subsequently violate that day.

Yeah, there's also something to the line of dialogue late in the film in which Ewa confesses how difficult Christmas is for her. Her only remaining family connection is a senile aunt. By that score, it's not surprising she'd try to cling to whatever interpersonal link she could. On the other hand, it is a consequence of her brokenness that she's never successfully been able to establish other interpersonal ties. Still, the way these holidays have developed (both in Kieslowski's culture and ours) makes them poignant for those of us with families and decidedly different for those without surrounding extended families. Of course, the counterargument is that holy days-- days in which we specially commemorate the integral events of our faith and the work our Lord has done-- don't really require (or benefit from?) the presence of our families around us. We certainly are induced to feel thankful, which is always a hallmark of the presence of God, but what else do family celebrations do to bring about holiness? Counterargument again: the very gathering of God's children to celebrate His birth is a holy event. However way it comes out, assuming that Janusz did not set out to sleep with Ewa when he agreed to accompany her, there's a significant argument to be made that the holiest thing he did that Christmas was nursing her broken spirit and listening to her chaotic ramblings.

Will she value her own life any more after that night? We can't know, but it is hard to imagine her valuing it any less, and there's reason to believe Janusz values his more.

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I saw this film twice and wrote down my ideas afterwards.

spoilers1.gif

Notes On Decalogue III

By Mark Kodak

It is Christmas Eve, and Janusz, a taxi driver in Warsaw Poland plans to spend the holiday at home with his family. Ewa, his ex-mistress, seeks him out, and through a series of manipulations, convinces him to spend the night with her, searching in vain for her lost lover Edward, who does not really exist. During their odyssey both of them struggle with issues of their past, infidelity, deceit, guilt, shame and regret. In the morning she confesses to him that she was planning on committing suicide if he had not stayed with her until morning. In the end they both have resisted further entanglements in the affair, avoided death, and hopefully settled their past.

Commandment: Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy.

Themes:

● The sanctity of time.

● The restless anxiety caused by infidelity, guilt, deceit, shame and regret.

● Holy Days represented as liminal portals drawing us towards transcendent realities.

General Observations :

Janusz is the Polish name for John, meaning

Edited by Visigoth

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It seemes tied to the idea tha the Family is sacrad and that christmas wich could be taken as a secular form of the sabbath being broken is likened to the destructoun of the family.

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It seemes tied to the idea tha the Family is sacrad and that christmas wich could be taken as a secular form of the sabbath being broken is likened to the destructoun of the family.

I agree, but do you think the film might also be saying something about the nature of family?

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It seemes tied to the idea tha the Family is sacrad and that christmas wich could be taken as a secular form of the sabbath being broken is likened to the destructoun of the family.

I agree, but do you think the film might also be saying something about the nature of family?

You mean like it's so easy to be lost or that if one is not carfull the family can be replaced with something less sacred.

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Well, as always with these films, there are diffuse elements and issues on display. I don't think Kieslowski and Piesiewicz were focusing on the idea that adultery could lead you to miss Christmas dinner and spoil the holiday bliss, but in part to think of what the sabbath and its modern manifestation, the "holiday", are meant to cultivate, and the idea that one's sphere of emotional connectedness does extend beyond the dinner table. Sure, the earlier adultery caused near-irreparable harm to the participants and the man's wife, but it also created an emotional bond which, in this case, expanded the man's "family obligations" beyond those of his own house.

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[quote name='Visigoth' date='10 December 2004 - 12:12 PM' timestamp='1102705975' post='50781']
I saw this film twice and wrote down my ideas afterwards.[/quote]
Uh ... so I guess we can just print out Visigoth's summation and use it for leading discussions in the future, then. Looks like it pretty much covers everything, and fifty other things that I didn't think of immediately when watching the episode.

- "The Watcher" is the driver of the trolley that Janusz plays chicken with. Again, I refuse to believe this guy is random or without meaning. The one time he appears in the episode is the one time Janusz is flirting with suicide. I don't think Janusz intends to kill himself, but he's risking doing so (along with everything) just to satisfy Ewa. And it's at this precise moment that "The Watcher" is looking at him? Yeah, that's not a coincidence.

- Visigoth's summary is fantastic. I think I can only add that, for us today, Christmas [i]is[/i] really a sort of holy day. It's a day where we are reminded to put others ahead of ourselves. When Ewa tells Janusz how it's hard for her to be all alone on Christmas Eve, my first thought was that this means that Janusz's wife [i]is[/i] all alone on Christmas Eve.

- A final thought: in our sex-obsessed culture, I've found that some people don't consider adultery or infidelity as really having been committed, unless they actually perform the sexual act itself. One of the most powerful things about the Sermon on the Mount, is how Christ explains that, with God, it's a matter of the heart not just performing the letter of the law. A man who looks at a woman in order to lust wrongfully after her has already committed infidelity. But, infidelity can be committed long before or long after sex enters the picture. Infidelity can be emotional and psychological, and Janusz is clearly still involved in Ewa in ways that he shouldn't be, even if, that night, he never intends to sleep with her. And, the fact that he makes the choice to put this all behind him, and go focus on his family does seem to make that morning just a little bit more holy.

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