P D Dawson
Kieślowski's Dekalog, Part Two of Ten (Film Review)
Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.
The second commandment in part two hinges upon a demand made by Dorota - a woman who is torn between her sick and bedridden husband, and her overseas lover. Her consultant, who lives in the same building block as her, is asked to 'swear to it!' on the prognosis of her husband's chances of survival. If her husband survives, she will terminate her pregnancy, but if not she will keep the baby conceived by her overseas lover. What complicates matters for Dorota, is that this pregnancy may well be the only chance she has to be a mother, due to problems of conception in the past.
The consultant does eventually swear to it through fear of the unborn baby's life that is at stake. He himself is no longer a believer in the divine almighty however, something predicated by losing his family to war when he was younger, so in that sense his swearing to it can only do good for the fate of the unborn. But for Dorota time is running out and she is torn between her two lovers and the fate of her unborn baby, and at one point she asks her consultant, who she obviously considers to be older and wiser than she - 'is it possible to love two people at the same time?'
Part two is a more ambiguous film in many ways. There is more complexity in the characters and a greater depth given to their past, especially in the backstory of the consultant who describes to Mrs Basia how he returned to his home to find nothing but an empty crater after it was destroyed in the war. The moral fibres of this story are taught, and the battle for life over death very much hangs on the balance of love. There is a scene in the hospital with Dorota's husband Andrzej watching a bee trying to climb out of a glass of cômpote, which powerfully symbolises the struggle for life over death. And it is perhaps no accident that Andrzej has the likeness of Christ in one of the last scenes, perhaps a way of Kieślowski showing him as the acceptor of the sins of those around him.
The ending itself is rather ambiguous too, for it seems to wrap things up, but at the same time there is no solid ending or clarity of resolution. Without spoiling the ending, I can say that there are strong religious undertones to this ending, and beneath the surface there are a myriad of unresolved questions to challenge the viewer. I enjoyed part two of the Dekalog series immensely and appreciated the subtleties of the story that will certainly reward repeated viewing.
Once again, as for the cinematic quality of the film, in this part the colour palette is more subtle and restrained, but the contrast in darker scenes is remarkable for its age. The colours do look a little washed out, however I feel this adds to the grunginess of the story. One could say there is a symbolic fight for light over dark in this part, and the image, though at times a little dull, is never less than pin-sharp.
Available from http://www.arrowfilms.co.uk/dekalog/