P D Dawson
Kieślowski's Dekalog, Part Six of Ten (Film Review)
Thou shalt not commit adultery
Part six of the Dekalog series is a drama that sees a young man, Tomek, observing a more mature lady called Magda through a lens. He spies on Magda, but he can only have her by sight, for though he can see the comings and goings of her life through the glass, it is not enough. He sends her a postal money order to her door and this means she visits him in the post office where he works, but as he had fraudulently created the money order, there is no actual money for her to have. This creates a scene in the post office when it happens for the second time, and thus he runs after her to confess that is was he who sent the order so he could see her, but far from being an ordinary prankster, he confesses that he also spies on her, because he believes he is in love.
This takes us into the middle part of the episode, and understandably, Magda is at first taken back by his forthcomingness, but she is also noticeably flattered and not entirely against the idea of having a young man interested in her. She even sets things up to put on a show for him with her lover, but it isn't clear whether this is intended to hurt him and make him jealous, or an open invitation for him to spy on her, that is, not until she tells her lover that she is being watched by a young man, and the lover subsequently pays Tomek a visit and punches him. Magda however seems to regret this when she sees his injuries after she catches him delivering milk the next morning - an extra job he took on to be closer to her.
They go together to have a drink and from there he goes back to her place and she sets it up to have sex with him, but he becomes overstimulated and orgasms early just by touching between her legs. Rather than put him at ease, she scorns him and tells him this is all there is to love. Tomek leaves the apartment and she suddenly feels guilty for the way she treated him, but it's too late, he tries to commit suicide by cutting his wrists, and through this act his bond of love to her is gone, however she realises that she loves him beyond the mere physical act of love, and she tries to contact him.
The desire for love beyond physical attraction reverses roles by the end of the episode. In the end she tries to make things right with Tomek, but she only receives coldness from him as he tells her he doesn't think about her anymore. She is then left as the one chasing love, a love that she learns will not be reciprocated. It's hard to tell what Kieślowski was trying to say with this film, as with any of the parts in the Dekalog series, they are open to interpretation, and will differ depending on where you stand with the issues raised in the drama, but that is perhaps the beauty of the work.
For further understanding it is possible to attain the original written screenplays called Dekalog: The Ten Commandments, published by Faber & Faber. There you will undoubtedly be able to get a keener sense of the original ideas in each part, as things were changed very much on the spot while they were filming and with the book you can see what things changed and what remained. As for the picture, flawless as you'd expect by now from this wonderfully restored version released by Arrow Films. A little dark in places, as I'm sure was the artistic and mood altering intention by Kieślowski, but ultimately a wonderful addition to the series.
I must note that this episode, along with Episode Five, was also made into separate features - A Short Film about Killing, and A Short Film about Love. This episode in particular was made longer and has an altogether happier ending, but apparently Kieślowski preferred this darker and more succinct version over the film.
Available from http://www.arrowfilms.co.uk/dekalog/