Tuesday, 6 September 2011

A Short Film About Killing

Polish director Krzysztrof Kleslowski's TV series, Dekalog, was a ten-part series of one hour films centred around the Ten biblical commandments. Two of these films were expanded -- this being one of them -- A Short Film About Love being the other.

This was my first experience with Kelslowski (I have yet to see The Three Colours Trilogy). This "short film" (81 minutes) is based on the commandment "Thou Shalt Not Kill"; so by telling you a murder takes place is of no surprise, or spoiler material.

It's a very accessible work, one you could start a class debate with about corporal punishment (which ends up being as cold and as horrific as the murder itself), yet a gripping storyline, which makes the film flow so smoothly ends in a perfect result. I felt the film was very foreign not because it's Polish, but because the main character is a disaffected, isolated young man living in the late 80's, who no view is going to empathise with, especially not when he causes a fair amount of trouble before he commits his crime on a taxi driver. The taxi driver is a guy who loves to ignore people, even potential fairs, and generally isn't much nicer than the killer, but you aren't going to contemplate that when the brutality of the murder is shown.

The perfect execution of the film confirms that Kleslowski has a power with film; total composure, an honest story teller. Unlike the uncaring taxi driver I cannot simply ignore the rest of his work, nor recommend A Short Film About Killing an essential place to start with his work, even more so if you live somewhere where corporal punishment is still practised.

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