P D Dawson
Kieślowski's Dekalog, Part Seven of Ten (Film Review)
Thou shalt not steal.
Part Seven of the Dekalog handles the complexity of a family living a lie. Majka lives in the family home with her mother and father, and her younger sister, however her younger sister Ania is really her daughter. Ania has been brought up with that belief to avoid bringing shame to the family. The father is Majka's former teacher, and it comes to light that Majka's mother, Ewa, blackmailed him and threatened to ruin his career unless he left Majka and the family alone. But Majka has been belittled by her mother for too long, and for a while she has been planning on stealing her daughter and running away. She has a passport, but somehow needs her mothers permission to get Ania out of the country. The relationship Majka has with her mother is complex, but her father seems warm, kind and understanding, the person she goes to to make her feel better.
Majka does make the big break but she didn't plan as well as she might have done. She goes to Wojtek, Ania's father, and her mother and father frantically try to find the missing girl. Majka rings her mother and tells her to call off the police search and let she and her daughter be. The story is loosely based around the commandment, Thou shalt not steal, but it constantly asks the question, can you steal something that actually belongs to you, even if it's in another's name. It is certainly evident that Majka means well and wants a better life, but it's not clear if that's what would be best for her daughter. Ania also refuses to acknowledge Majka as her real mum. In both sides there are failures, but rather than coming together to solve them, the family is instead torn upside down.
The story is less darker than some of the other episodes in the series, but it packs a heavy emotional punch. Nothing is stronger than a mother's bond, yet Majka has not been that mother figure in Ania's life, and she shows no patience towards her daughter, and wants things to be as she wishes they were from her birth, but that can never be. The past is murky, and Ewa certainly didn't act honourably when she brought Ania up as her own, and in a way we see that the real theft was the one Majka's mother made, when she stole her granddaughter to avoid the family shame, but also to fill the hole in her own heart.
The transfer for this film is crisp and sharp though once again the colours are a little washed out, but this is probably down to the original negative. TV shows were rarely shot on 35mm in the late eighties, early nineties, so it is a pleasure seeing all of the Dekalog series looking as if they were shot for cinema.
Available from http://www.arrowfilms.co.uk/dekalog/