Decalogue, Three

Decalogue III

Action shot
  • Description
  • Cast and crew
  • Duration: 53’
  • Genre: DRAMA
  • Resolution: HD
  • Year: 1988

This original series illustrating the Ten Commandments has firmly established Kieślowski’s international reputation. Each of the presented stories is linked to the theme of a particular commandment. Because of its form, all viewers are deeply moved by these movies, regardless of their views or religious beliefs. Asked on numerous occasions why he had chosen such a hard subject, the director replied curtly: “It’s worthwhile to be reminded of these ten very well written sentences. There needs to be a point of reference, a definitive criterion (...)”. The series won numerous awards at film festivals and is one of the most recognizable Polish productions.

‘Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy’. Do you also have to remember the night, even if it is the Christmas’ Eve night? The single father known from The Decalogue, One is looking at the window of his neighbours living on the first floor, sitting around the table and waiting for Christmas presents. A happy idyllic picture of a loving family shatters when Janusz goes out provoked by his ex-lover Ewa. They drive around the deserted city under the pretext to find her missing husband. In the morning the old feelings seem to explode again but little Christmas carol singers ring the doorbell singing about the birth of Jesus at the early hours. Before the dawn Ewa reveals to Janusz that she made a dangerous bet with herself as she did not want to spend the Christmas Eve’s night alone. The other woman, Janusz’s wife, has been waiting for him all night long suspecting what was the true reason of his disappearance. ‘Was it Ewa? – Ewa…’ This episode referring to the third commandment shows a comprehensive understanding of the Decalogue: breaking only one commandment leads to a violation of the remaining ones. Janusz leaves his family; he lusts, drives recklessly putting his and others’ lives at risk, whereas Ewa balances on the edge of adultery, thinking of suicide; they both lie. Kieślowski watches their weaknesses and confused lives with sympathy; he lets them find the way out. The character played by Artur Barciś, driving a tram into which direction Janusz speeds becomes a symbol: you should keep to the right way. The final scene showing Janusz’s confession and his wife’s silent forgiveness also brings hope.

  • Awards:
  • 1989 Venice Film Festival – Children and Cinema Award; FIPRESCI Prize
  • 1989 São Paulo International Film Festival – Critics Award
  • 1989 San Sebastián International Film Festival – OCIC Award - Honorable Mention
  • 1990 Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists – European Silver Ribbon
  • 1991 French Syndicate of Cinema Critics – Critics Award: Best Foreign Film
  • 1997 Chicago Film Critics Association Awards – Best Foreign Language Film
  • 2000 National Board of Review USA – Special Citation Outstanding Cinematic Series
  • 2016 Cannes Film Festival – Cannes Classic Selection and Presentation

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