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  • Writer's pictureP D Dawson

Kieślowski's Dekalog, Part Ten of Ten (Film Review)

Dekalog, Ten

Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor anything that is thy neighbour's.


Part Ten, the final part of Kieślowski's Dekalog series, is a very interesting portrayal of two brothers dealing with their father's death and the complication of what is left behind. Artur Janicki is a rockstar who doesn't like to follow the rules and with seemingly few morals, while his brother Jerzy is the older and more responsible one of the two. Both brothers however were estranged from their father in his later years, and they had no clue that he had such a large and valuable stamp collection, only remembering that they were poor and had very little while growing up. In his death, the brothers find that some of their father's friends and neighbours are loyal to him, even in death, while a few others only seem to be out for what they can get and are relying on the brothers' ignorance towards the value of the collection.

The brothers do however learn from one of their father's associates in the stamp world, that the collection is worth a great deal. This is where the commandment comes in, for there seems to be a lot of people who know of the stamp collection and its value, and many do appear to covet it. This prompts Artur to buy a big dog to warn off any potential burgulars, but this isn't enough, and so they install better locks and even a metal cage in front of the windows and doors.

As an aside to this, the brothers also begin to be enchanted by their father's collection and are drawn in by the allure of a very rare pink stamp that their father coveted throughout his life. A stamp dealer tells them how to get it, but it doesn't need money. His daughter needs a kidney and only Jerzy is a match. He agrees to the operation, and in return they will get the illusive and valuable pink stamp. This draws on feelings of envy and greed by the brothers, but also displays those around them, of having committed the sin of coveting that which is not their own. By the end of the episode, having lost everything in a burglary and both of them having been played as fools, the brothers initially turn on each other, before finally realising it is their neighbours who coveted the value of the stamp collection, and most likely they that are responsible for the theft. We are left to ponder what is the true value of the collection, or anything one might covet, up against that of human life, health and frailty.

All in all this is a wonderfully thrilling and interesting episode to be ending with, and somehow demands that you watch the entire series again, to see the threads and crossing paths of all the characters, to see where Artur Barciś pops up in each episode, and what it all might mean to the commandments and the statements being made by Kieślowski. These stories have hidden depths and each one of them achieves a lot as they explore the many facets and flaws within the human condition.

The transfer for this film is crisp and sharp, with rich contrast, though once again the colours are a little washed out, 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. And to that end this is a marvellous presentation by Arrow Academy.

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