Still from Dekalog
Desire, Imagination, and Memory in Kieślowski’s Dekalog
Kieslowski's mammoth Dekalog, co-written with Krzysztof Piesiewicz, is a series made for Polish television based on the Ten Commandments. It consists of ten one-hour films, inspired by the Ten Commandments. Each short film explores one or several moral or ethical issues faced by characters living in an austere apartment block in modern Poland. Kieslowski tackled the project after feeling "tension, a feeling of hopelessness, and a fear of worse yet to come - everywhere, everything, practically everybody's life." The series was shown in its entirety as the centerpiece of the 1989 Venice Film Festival and is considered a masterpiece of modern cinema.
Approaches to the study of film are numerous, and seemingly limitless in their possible areas of focus and concern. This is of course understandable, as people have been thinking about the nature of film since the earliest days of the medium. Perhaps the greatest contributing factors to this multiplicity of approaches are this discipline's great inheritance from the other arts, and the accompanying insights, practices, and theories that these "others" have generated for centuries. This fact has implications for our understanding of film's specific ontological, ethical, and aesthetic nature, especially as these areas of concern would seem to unite many current approaches to the medium, however else these schools of thought may otherwise differ.
Krzysztof Kieslowski (b. June 27, 1941 in Warsaw, Poland -- d. March 13, 1996) was a leading director of documentaries, television and feature films from the 1970s to the 1990s. Perhaps more than any other director in the history of the cinema, Kieslowski was profoundly motivated by these essential questions and concerns of both cinema and its various “others,” and his interdisciplinary concerns and trans-modal approach resulted in a body of work spanning both documentary and fictional genres. Dekalog, his brilliant ten-part film cycle, is the greatest testimony to his life-long pursuit of cinematic thinking, blending of genres, and intermediary mindfulness. In this spirit, and with Kieślowski’s Dekalog as our primary guide, this semester we will chart a course of similar fidelity to our own academic and personal concerns by focusing on the importance of “Image, Word, and Embodiment” in both film and film theory.
Krzysztof Kieślowski (Polish pronunciation: [ˈkʂɨʂtɔf kʲɛɕˈlɔfskʲi], was an influential Polish art-house film director and screenwriter known internationally for Dekalog (1989), The Double Life of Veronique (1991), and the Three Colors trilogy (1993–1994). Kieślowski received numerous awards during his career, including the Cannes Film Festival Jury Prize (1988), FIPRESCI Prize (1988, 1991), and Prize of the Ecumenical Jury (1991); the Venice Film Festival FIPRESCI Prize (1989), Golden Lion (1993), and OCIC Award (1993); and the Berlin International Film Festival Silver Bear (1994). In 1995 he received Academy Award nominations for Best Director and Best Writing. In 2002 Kieślowski was listed at number two on the British Film Institute's Sight & Sound Top Ten Directors list of modern times.
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