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Category:    Home > Reviews > A Short Film About Killing

A Short Film About Killing (from The Decalogue)


Picture: B-     Sound: B-     Extras: B     Film: B+



A Short Film About Killing is taken from Krzysztof Kieslowksi’s The Decalogue, which was originally one out of the ten part series and ran one hour in length, but has been expanded for this U.S. DVD release at a run time of 81-minutes.  The film works as a stand-alone film as well as part of a series and demonstrates the brilliant work of a filmmaker who had thought of his work in terms of how it could relate within itself and how it could work with other episodes.


Unlike A Short Film About Love, which was also expanded from the Decalogue set and is also available to the U.S. on DVD through Kino, this is a gritty and horrifying tale that delivers to us a tale of redemption.  The film brings three worlds from three strangers together in a modern day Warsaw and they all share a similar fate.  While this film basically attacks the idea of Capital Punishment, it would seem that this expanded version even goes further with that and its way of looking at killing and death in general. A young man murders a cab driver with little evidence or motive, but is sentenced to death for his crime and his lawyer is questioning whether the legal system is as just as he once thought it was.


While the plot may seem simple, its complexity lies in its narrative and the style in which Kieslowski feels fit to tell his tale.  With cinematographer Slawomir Idziak (known for working in the U.S. after this film and especially the work on Ridley Scott’s Black Hawk Down; see my comparison review on this site) he captures a world of hatred and ugliness, which still possesses all the richness that only a strong cinematographer would be able to manage.  Images are striking and powerful and the film has an energy to it as well, even in the most subtle of times.  This film is said to be the best work from The Decalogue and served as part V from that series.  Presented here on DVD, Idziak’s work is defined well in a 1.85 X 1 anamorphic widescreen transfer, which keeps the tone of the film in place with an appropriate darkness and high contrast as well.  Colors are accurately muted as well, which sucks all the life from the color stock and almost gives a rustic look to the film.  The Dolby 2.0 Stereo is also acceptable and showcases the film well enough, since most will be reading the subtitles, but can enjoy the Pro Logic surrounds when they are present.


Kino has introduces some very nice extras for the DVD release as well, including three interviews:  Cinematographer Slawomir Idziak, Annette Insdorf, and filmmaker Agnieszka Holland.  While these are not lengthy they are quite informative and give a nice idea of what the film accomplished and what working with Kieslowski was like. There is also an ‘examination’ of the film by writer Antonin Liehm and a short documentary that Kieslowski did entitled A Night Porter’s Point of View, which was from 1977 and runs about 20 minutes.


Also look for A Short Film About Love reviewed on this site and even if you own the Decalogue, these are also nice additions as their added material change much of the overall impact and the extras make it even more worth it.



-   Nate Goss


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