Edited by The Invisible Man, 09 July 2005 - 09:03 AM.
[Decalogue] Episode V
Posted 09 July 2005 - 04:58 AM
Posted 28 March 2006 - 12:02 PM
It's surprising that no one mentioned the aspect of the death penalty that came out very strongly by episode's end - its effect on the executioners (the individuals, and by extension, the society that supports capital punishment). Where Jacek's act is almost improvised - he starts with a rope, then a rod, and finishes the job with a rock - his execution is meticulously planned. The executioners are almost giddy with excitement at the prospect of a "fresh kill"; perhaps a defense mechanism by which they can sleep at night and still show up to do the job. And Jacek's final plea to live, his struggle against death, ignored by his executioners, as he ignored his victim's pleas.
Does Piotr "abhor" the system because it executed Jacek? Or because it eats away at the soul of the executioner?
Kieslowski did not succeed in conjuring and pity or sympathy in me for Jacek.
Was that Kieslowski's goal? I didn't feel much sympathy for him, either, but he was humanized by episode's end. I felt a heavy sadness at the entire episode, and that sense of regret that both deaths were senseless. I also love that Kieslowski presented the cabbie as a less-than-nice-guy ... the scene where he ogles, and offers a "ride" to, a young woman was very uncomfortable. Is he a pervert? A borderline pedophile? (The girl looked to be at least a teenager, but pretty young for a guy his age to be ogling.) He's generally nasty to others, including his neighbors. None of this justifies the murder, of course, and there's no sense of satisfaction when Jacek kills him. But is Kieslowski linking the cabbie's attitude toward young women to the death of Jacek's sister? And Jacek's playful behavior, by contrast, with the young girls at the window?
I flashed on DEAD MAN WALKING, for obvious reasons. Which, interestingly enough, caused me for the first time to think maybe the death penalty wasn't an entirely bad idea, necessarily. (Think I was reading against the grain?)
Funny you mention that, because I immediately flashed to DMW, too. And that film had the same effect on me - even though I'm generally anti-, Robbins' film felt too ambiguous, if that's possible - not sure if he went too far, or not far enough, in trying to humanize Penn's character. The 11th-hour confession convinced me the death penalty actually had a cleansing effect on him.
In contrast, Decalogue 5 convincingly portrayed the ill effects of killing, period ...
That's after only one viewing. Hopefully I'll rewatch this tonight, and maybe will rethink everything I just wrote.
Edited by Mark, 28 March 2006 - 12:04 PM.
Posted 22 April 2006 - 04:02 PM
Posted 24 April 2006 - 07:44 AM
Mark - some nice observations - although at least as much about DMW as D5
Posted 12 October 2009 - 07:08 PM
We're discussing this film tonight at The Kindlings Muse too, so I'd like to invite guests at that event to check out this thread.
Posted 29 October 2009 - 03:43 PM
Posted 29 October 2009 - 04:08 PM
Posted 13 May 2011 - 08:29 AM
- I believe the death penalty is right against what I'd like to believe if I had a choice (basically because the Bible supports it). The power of the sword is given to the government for a reason. There is a place for the death penalty, and yet the potential for injustice is so incredibly great that I have a hard time accepting it. I say this as one who is about to soon become a full fledged Criminal Defense trial attorney. I cannot imagine what it would be like to have to defend a client against the death penalty, much less lose (thinking it was your fault) and then go and personally watch the execution. Whoa. You probably have to as a matter of conscience though.
- This was a powerful episode. And yet, I wonder what the episode would have been like if the mode of execution was more sympathetic, sanitized, and quiet. If there's injustice, there's injustice no matter if the condemned is dragged kicking and screaming to his death by mean police officers OR if the condemned is drugged into a state of submissive complacency and quietly put to sleep forever by a kindly government nurse by a quick and painless lethal injection. I just watched Never Let Me Go recently, and the death scenes for Ruth and Tommy left a lot of viewers cold. They were sad and quiet death/execution scenes, unlike the tragedy of Jacek trembling in terror as he attempts to take that one last drag from his cigarette. Heck, the execution scene burned into my brain as a, well probably as a 10 year old, will always still be James Cagney's in Angels With Dirty Faces.
- And yet, I'm not criticizing the episode for making the execution emotionally difficult for the viewer. It should be. I pray that I will never have to see that happen to anyone. I can't help identifying with Piotr, and I think his analysis of the wisdom of criminal penalties as deterrents is a subject worth exploring (perhaps even more than the death penalty alone). Punishment in Criminal Law is a whole subject unto itself. Societies and Legislatures write sentencing laws for reasons of deterrence, protection, rehabilitation, and sometimes retribution. Sounded like Piotr believed any punishment as a deterrent was really just a punishment as retribution/revenge.
Posted 13 May 2011 - 09:05 AM
I've heard a response to the watcher in a few places (maybe even on this board somewhere): When Kieslowski made The Decalogue, the political climate in Poland precluded him from having any overt religious symbols or social commentary--part of the reason he switched from documentaries to fictional stories in the first place--so he couldn't "say" the watcher was an angel or God or anything like that, even though the accumulated evidence of the character points directly toward just that interpretation.
Posted 15 May 2011 - 09:33 AM