The Decalogue (Dekalog)

SEPTEMBER 5-7, 11-14


“For true film buffs, this is the cinema event of the year.”

“Magnificent ... It may be the best dramatic work ever done specifically for television.”

The Cinematheque is pleased to present a beautiful new restoration of Krzysztof Kieślowski’s The Decalogue, one of the monumental achievements of European cinema and one of the first truly great works of long-form television.

Active in his native Poland since the late 1960s, Kieślowski rocketed to worldwide acclaim in the early 1990s with a quartet of strangely metaphysical films that became major art-house hits: The Double Life of Véronique (1991), and the "Tricolour Trilogy" of Blue (1993), White (1993) and Red (1994). It was The Decalogue, however, that first secured Kieślowski’s status as a film artist of international importance; and, in his moral and spiritual concerns, his exploration of the mysterious forces that shape our lives, as a true successor to the mantle of Robert Bresson, Ingmar Bergman, and Andrei Tarkovsky.

“A masterwork of modern cinema, essential viewing for anyone who cares about the movies as a serious art form.”

Co-written by Kieślowski and his regular collaborator Krzysztof Piesiewicz, produced for Polish TV in 1988, and screened to awe and astonishment at the Venice Film Festival in 1989, The Decalogue is made up of ten self-contained, hour-long episodes, each based on one of the Ten Commandments, and each centring on fallible characters caught up in a difficult moral or ethical dilemma. Each was shot by a different cinematographer and features a largely different cast; all are situated around the same Warsaw housing complex. Each part is entirely self-contained and can be appreciated on its own; all share subtle cross-references and resonances, which gives the work as a whole a tremendous cumulative power. Two of the parts were expanded into theatrically-released features, A Short Film About Killing and A Short Film About Love, both of which will also be screened.

Kieślowski died in 1996, at the age of 54. At the time, many considered him to be to be the most significant European filmmaker of the last quarter of the 20th century. If any single one of Kieślowski’s achievements can best sustain such weighty claims, it is The Decalogue.

“One of the twentieth century’s greatest achievements in visual storytelling.”

"These films have the very real ability to dramatize their ideas rather than just talking about them ... They do this with such dazzling skill, you never see the ideas coming and don't realize until much later how profoundly they have reached your heart” (Stanley Kubrick).

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Program Note: Episodes of The Decalogue have been paired together (1+2, 3+4, 5+6, and so on) into single programs of approximately two hours’ duration, for which our regular single bill (two episodes) and double bill (four episodes) pricing structure applies. Special triple-bill pricing available on dates with three screenings in series (including Decalogue Sidebar): September 5, 6, 7, 12 & 13.

Click for film notes + showtimes

Recent Showings

Episodes 1 + 2 of Kieślowski's magnum opus: "Thou shalt have no other God but Me" and "Thou shalt not take the Lord's name in vain."
Episodes 3 + 4 of Kieślowski's magnum opus: "Thou shalt honour the Sabbath Day" and "Thou shalt honour thy father and thy mother."
Episodes 5 + 6 of Kieślowski's magnum opus: "Thou shalt not kill" and "Thou shalt not commit adultery."
Episodes 7 + 8 of Kieślowski's magnum opus: "Thou shalt not steal" and "Thou shalt not bear false witness."
Episodes 9 + 10 of Kieślowski's magnum opus: "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife" and "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s goods."