Kieślowski's Dekalog, Part Nine of Ten (Film Review)
Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house.
Part Nine focuses on a husband's struggle with acceptance. Roman Nycz has been diagnosed with an incurable and permanent impotency, and in this episode it drives him to attempted suicide, as he feels he can no longer provide all his wife's needs. He tells her she can find a lover to satisfy her desires, but she tells him she doesn't need that, that all she needs is his love, and that love lives in the heart. However, even though she tells him this, she does take on a lover behind Roman's back and this makes him mad with jealousy. He begins to watch her every move and sees how far she'll spin her lies. But we are left with the conundrum of whether or not this is cheating, for after all, he did tell her to find a lover, but perhaps it is the lie that is the sin.
The plot thickens as it emerges that his wife Hanna has actually been seeing a younger man for some time, even before her husband's struggles with impotency, or at least we are led to believe, before he gave her permission to find a lover for the bedroom. Hanna is the object of desire for both this younger man Mariusz, and obviously for her husband. Roman, torn apart with despair and feeling inadequate in the bedroom, he decides to try and take his own life, leaving his wife to this lover, however, without spoiling the plot, things don't quite turn out that way.
Suffice to say there are many mixed emotions here and not least, Hanna, who is also plagued with guilt, as it appears she really does love her husband, but perhaps it is Roman's feelings of inadequacy that has pushed his wife away. Perhaps he has deliberately or subconsciously pushed her away in order to not feel the pain of losing her through no fault of his own, like rubbing salt in an already open gash. By the end however, we see that this struggling marriage needed something like this to strengthen it, and to salvage it, even though the process almost breaks every last drop of love from each others hearts, in the end, could it be that their relationship is stronger than ever, bonded by the purity of love.
The transfer for this episode, like the others before it, is crisp and sharp, with rich contrast, though once again the colours are a little washed out. This is probably down to the original negative used for this newly remastered transfer. 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. And to that end this is a marvellous presentation by Arrow Academy.
Available from http://www.arrowfilms.co.uk/dekalog/