Decalogue, Four

Decalogue IV

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. 

The Decalogue films are basically intimate dramas: two main characters and one character played by Artur Barciś, absent and reappearing in different roles are enough to make the story appealing to emotions and imagination of viewers. The fourth part of the cycle begins on Easter Monday. Michał, according to the tradition (as only such gestures are left from the Easter celebrations) plays a water tricks on his adult daughter. A bit later he goes abroad on a business trip leaving, probably on purpose, an envelope with a disturbing message: ‘Open after my death’. There is another envelope inside addressed by Anka’s mother when she was close to death, apparently writing about an important secret. When the woman is about to open the letter, the look of an oarsman (Artur Barciś) whom she meets, apparently not without a reason, stops her from crossing the uncrossable barrier. Anka’s orderly life is shattered by suppositions and uncertainty: if Michał is not her father, is love other than daughter’s love towards his father possible? The mystery of melodrama remains unsolved; the late mother’s letter, read (or unread) – or maybe only its copy written by her daughter? – is burnt. The opening sequence showing both characters standing by the windows which, by the way, are important motifs in the whole cycle – before or after? in the same flat or not? – constitutes a similar mystery. Is it the reason why the doctor, the neighbour known from The Decalogue, Two, bearing inside a drama of love broken prematurely appears on the screen?

  • 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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