Decalogue, Eight

Decalogue VIII

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.

An unexpected meeting of two women: Elżbieta, a Jew of Polish origin living in the USA, studying the stories of the people that survived the Holocaust and an elderly ethics professor. They have met long time ago but only now Zofia recognizes her as the girl she refused to help during the Nazi occupation in order to save the resistance movement put to risk of exposure. The reason for her refusal remembered by Elżbieta was that she could not bring herself to lie to Him she believes in. Zofia has been living with the sense of guilt for the death of an innocent child, and Elżbieta – with the sense of rejection for decades. The film, probably inspired by Hanna Krall (‘I sometime told Kieślowski about the girl I know very well – the one from The Decalogue, Eight’) is one of the first stories referring to the Holocaust as well as to the Polish and Jews relations in the Polish cinematography. The director indicates the guilt and an unsolvable dilemma at the same time, eventually standing by the child’s side. The story from The Decalogue, Two told by Zofia in the auditorium and its conclusion (‘the child’s life is the most important factor’) recalls the memories of Elżbieta (and is followed by a look of an invisible student with an already familiar face). Kieślowski, however, does not lock himself in the past but shows the solution. It consists of revealing hurting lies, finding the truth about the reasons for actions and forgiveness without which the future is going to be bitter. The eighth film, for the first time since The Decalogue, One poses the question regarding God: in the night conversation of the two women His name known from the Old and the New Testaments is recalled.

  • 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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