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[Decalogue] Episode I


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#21 Andrew

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Posted 27 October 2003 - 05:23 PM

Ah, but dreams are much more intimate than mere knowledge of location or a sterile assurance of one's safety. I found this to be a poignant and genuinely childlike expression of longing for a meaningful connection with an absent mom.

#22 Thom

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Posted 27 October 2003 - 05:46 PM

Ah, but dreams are much more intimate than mere knowledge of location or a sterile assurance of one's safety. I found this to be a poignant and genuinely childlike expression of longing for a meaningful connection with an absent mom.



Dreams are more intimate but I would have to say, as a child I wondered when mom was going to be home not what she was dreaming about while she was away. It is intimate but I am not certain that that is what was trying to be portrayed. If the child had that intimate of a relationship with their mother wouldn't that also be accompanied by some form of dire need to know when mom was coming home?

#23 Andrew

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Posted 27 October 2003 - 10:01 PM

Yeah, I suppose the greater significance of the query about the computer and his mother's dreams is to illustrate that there are matters of the human soul (dreams) that a sterile intelligence (the computer held in such high esteem by the father) cannot possibly compute.

Funny this should come up now. At a recent educational conference at work, a fellow psychiatrist was expressing his optimism that, with the increasing sensitivity of our neuroimaging techniques, we will soon be able to pinpoint the soul's location in the brain. In this techno-idolatrous age, themes such as those in Decalogue Part I will only become increasingly relevant, I suspect.

#24 Visigoth

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Posted 12 January 2004 - 10:30 AM

Pawel: Why do people die?
Father: It depends, heart failure, cancer, accidents, old age.
Pawel: I mean, what is death ? ?

Father: The heart stops pumping blood. It does not reach the brain. movement ceases, everything stops.
Pawel: So what's left?
Father: What a person has achieved, the memory of that person. The memory is important. The memory that someone moved in a certain way, or that they were kind . . . you remember their face, their smile, that a tooth was missing.

(A pause as Pawel looks at him with longing for a better answer)

Father: It's too early. What do you expect from me so early in the morning.

(He pours milk into his coffee. It is sour.)

Pawel: "For the peace of her soul." (He quotes a funeral prayer) You did not mention a soul.

Father: It's a form of words of farewell. There is no soul.

Pawel: Auntie says there is.
Father: Some find it easier to live thinking that.
Pawel: And you ? ?
Father: Me? Frankly, I do not know.

This is very good dialogue. The part where the father says it is early is truly haunting. It is too early in the boy's life to think about death, or the boy dying. Childhood is like morning in the day of our life. The nurturing and life giving milk has gone sour. Bad milk in the school. The ideology and world views being taught no longer nurture and give meaning to the children. Science without faith or religion it is sour and lifeless. But why ?? ? If it is merely scientific as he explains. Like the emotions and aesthetic preferences he mentions a machine having in his lecture, he is faced with the dilemma himself. He is a rational being in a seemingly irrational and indifferent mechanical world.

Death has many more ramifications than mere biological failure. The father sees death seeping through the cracks of the determinism he tries to calculate in everything. (The bottle of ink breaking.) In the end, he runs into the Church, not the laboratory.

#25 Peter T Chattaway

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Posted 12 January 2004 - 10:45 PM

Visigoth wrote:
: It is too early in the boy's life to think about death . . .

FWIW, my first memory of thinking about death was when I was six years old and living in Poland. Must be something in the air, there. smile.gif

#26 Russ

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Posted 31 January 2005 - 03:34 PM

Many months later, a few new things to add that don't seem to have been addressed before.

My film group screened this film last night. In the course of talking about how the film illustrates the kinds of sins which violate the First Commandment, one participant brought up the way in which the father seems to set up his relationship with his son as a god above God. He clearly loves his son, and doesn't love God, so while his love for his son appears by all indications to be wonderful and healthy, in the absence of God, it becomes an idol.

At the end, when the father is in the half-completed church, he reaches into the baptismal font and pulls out a disc-shaped block of frozen water, which might be both a scientific impossibility (or unlikeliness), and which looks almost like a communion wafer in its roundness. He puts it to his head, a gesture which could be read as him trying to reach out for the comforts of the church, or perhaps that the church's elements will remain frozen off to him.

#27 Aaron

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Posted 03 March 2005 - 11:46 AM

It is all tied up in the namelless strnger he represents Christ who suffers for our weaknessess and falaces but we reject him and he is powerless in the face of free will to do any thing sense if our free will was taken a way we would be mindless atomitons un able to choose freelly between right and wrong this is the crux of The Decalouge that man will make bad descions becuse he is falbale and has free will and God can not interfere with our free will becuse that would violate the basic laws of the universe. So to put it suscintlly man must humble himself before the Lord to be truelly free and not the falseness and vanity of the world.

#28 The Invisible Man

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Posted 25 June 2005 - 03:50 AM

I like the way the supernatural makes its presence felt in the lives of the protagonists. Computers can't switch themselves on, and ink bottles and ice don't just break for no reason, but all of us have experienced similar confounding events, little moments that we end up dismissing but that haunt us all the same. Both father and son are shown to be spooked by the computer's odd behaviour. The stranger may not be Jesus, but he is clearly a supernatural presence of some sort (no matter how much Kiezlowski tried to downplay this idea). He is everywhere.

By the way, the ink bottle reminded me of the slide that seems to bleed at the beginning of the wonderful Don't Look Now. Both films play with signs and portents, and both feature a drowned child. I can't help but feel that Kiezlowski was tipping his hat to Nicolas Roeg.

Edited by The Invisible Man, 25 June 2005 - 04:05 AM.


#29 Tim Willson

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Posted 27 June 2005 - 12:31 PM

Interesting comment about the ink perhaps being a nod to Nicolas Roeg, Invisible Man. I haven't seen Don't Look Now, but you could be right. What I noticed is that Kieslowski used spilled liquids on various occasions throughout The Dekalog to signify loss (destruction, maybe?), including two instances of spilled milk in #6, and a recurring theme of things falling/being thrown in #5.

#30 gigi

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Posted 27 June 2005 - 01:03 PM

It hadn't occured to me but I would go with that.

:spoiler:
The ink directly preshadows the girl's drowning in the lake in Don't Look Now, and is connected to it by it's vivid red/her red coat.

mmmmmm... I've got that on my rental list, shall consider it in this light when it finally comes. But for now, I agree with you wholeheartedly on this point.

#31 The Invisible Man

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Posted 29 June 2005 - 11:41 AM

I dug out a list of Kiezlowski's favourite films, but, sadly, Don't Look Now didn't feature.

Here's his ten:

Citizen Kane (Orson Welles)
The Kid (Charles Chaplin)
Kes (Ken Loach)
La Strada (Federico Fellini)
The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner (Tony Richardson)
A Man Escaped (Robert Bresson)
The Pram (Bo Widerberg)
Intimate Lighting (Ivan Passer)
The Musicians (Kazimierz Karabasz)
Ivan's Childhood (Andrei Tarkovsky)

(Source: 1992 Sight & Sound Directors' Poll)


#32 joey888

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Posted 19 May 2009 - 02:57 AM

wpw thanks was looking up and down for that list off to cabos. lol
simulation assurance vie

#33 Overstreet

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Posted 12 October 2009 - 07:01 PM

I'm bumping this thread to the top again, since I plan to recommend that people visit this conversation, when I discuss Decalogue 1 tonight at The Kindlings Muse with Dick Staub. This is one of my favorite threads in our board history. Great discussion.

#34 Tyler

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Posted 29 October 2009 - 07:19 PM

1) It's always seemed ominous to me that the watcher is tending a fire right next to the lake. Not sure how strongly I'd hold to this now, but for a while I wondered if he was a god-figure and his fire was a symbol for him melting the ice--while the father watches, no less.

2) There are two scenes--one in the middle, second near the end--when the father's computer seems to turn itself on and displays the message, "I am ready." In the lecture scene, the father said that computers could eventually become self-aware and make volitional choices (or something like that). So, if you've watched 2001 too many times, as I have, it kind of feels like the computer developed a malevolent streak and intentionally gave them the wrong information on the ice's strength. Again, I wouldn't hold too strongly to that kind of interpretation, but it's fun to think about.

3) I think the father's faith in technology causes him to ignore all the warnings (the little girl at the door, the fire truck, people saying the ice broke, etc.) that point to problems at the lake before he finally goes to check it out. If you're going with the "No gods before me" framework, relying on technology instead of signs from the real world could have cost him a chance to see Pawel before he died.

4) The father's lecture can easily be interpreted as Kiewslowski subtly disclosing his ideological intentions for The Decalogue. That is, he's talking in an indirect way that the censors won't be able to recognize.

#35 J.A.A. Purves

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Posted 01 May 2011 - 09:48 AM

I've begun working my way through this now. It's an experience worth the effort.

- So Kieslowski actually said that the young man by the fire doesn't mean anything? I call bull****. He acts too much like he knows what's happening in the story, that and when he's there and when he's not seem too significant to only be coincidences. He's not just a character in the Decalogue either, because it looks like each time he appears in an episode, he's a different person (dressed different, with a different job, etc.) And yet, Kieslowski had to have had a reason for giving him the same role - he's always watching, and appears at significant moments.

- There is clearly something unusual about the computer turning itself on. It's something not explained rationally or scientifically. The father says it's not supposed to do that. If this is really an episode reflecting on how we make technology a god in our lives, then there's something a little scary about the otherworldlyness of the computer's actions.

- The kid playing Pavel was a great little actor. The look on his face (the face of a kid who loves and admires his father) when being given overly simplistic answers about death is greatly affecting. I realize the dad's an atheist/agnostic, but as sensitive as he is to his son - his explanations about how the organs in the human body stop working are so clearly not what his son was asking for - that it makes it look like a blind spot for him. Almost any parent should have been able to understand the kid was going through some deep thinking for once, and responded with more than facts from the encyclopedia.

- I can't tell if it's implied that the fire was actually the thing that was overlooked by the dad in his calculations regarding the strength of the ice. It's obviously not something included in the computer calculation. When he walks out to test it himself, it seems to be fine at that point (and he probably weighs, what, over 3 times the weight of his son?) - but there's the bonfire sitting right next to, if not on top of the ice - burning there for hours and hours. It's not that using a computer to calculate something like that is wrong. While the computer doesn't seem normal (it's representative of taking the place of God), there's not indication that the computer consciously gave him the wrong results. It's that, either the father didn't include another important factor he should have (the fire?) or there was something else about the ice he just didn't know about.

#36 J.A.A. Purves

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Posted 22 May 2012 - 09:35 PM

My review.

#37 Anders

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Posted 04 November 2012 - 04:27 PM

I had watched the first couple of episodes of THE DECALOGUE years ago, but I'm revisiting the first two and hoping to get through all ten in the next couple of months.

DECALOGUE: ONE is wonderful and sobering. Great stuff.

Jeremy, I really enjoyed your review, which I think did a good job of grappling with the question of idolatry. Nicely done.