Kieslowski, Love

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Re: Kieslowski’s A Short Film About Love, I have a question for myself which I’ll share here with you, inviting you to tell me your answer when you come up with one. When I come up with an answer I should remind myself to post it here.

I’m glad I first saw it as part of his Dekalog series made for TV. I’m glad I’d already seen his Three Colors series, for theaters, before I saw the TV special. I’m glad I saw Blue first and Red second. (I saw White third, but watched it three times before returning it to NetFlix!)

I’m glad I waited a year or so after seeing Dekalog before seeing A Short Film About Love: and now that I’ve seen the latter I must again see the former. Doing so won’t help me with my question. For that I’ll need to watch A Short Film About Love again: but I choose again to first let more time pass.

I let time pass between each of the ten commandment episodes — and recommend that you do too — if you haven’t savored them yet, and I’m glad I did. I found Six to be among the very best of the ten. I did NOT think they were all similarly great. I doubt that any two people’s list by preference would agree. I doubt that my own list at Time1 would match my own list at Time2!

Grazyna Szapolowska played Magda in both versions. She begged Kieslowski to give the film a happy ending for the theater version. He did: sort of. That is:

Tomek spies on Magda.
Eventually Tomek tells Magda.
She employs symmetry to plot a revenge on Tomek:
But:

He tells her he loves her, he tells her he wants nothing from her …
She executes her revenge, mocking his inexperience.
He slits his wrists, she exhibits love for him, wants to say that he was right, about love, and she was wrong …
But he’s not spying any more.

In the version for the theater, that is, the happy ending, Magda visits Tomek on his side of the airspace. She wants to caress his bandaged wrists, his foster-mother stops her. There, in his room, is the stolen telescope, through which he’s spied on her (and through which, in the theater version, step-mom has spied on THEM!) Magda looks into the telescope and spies her own version of how things MIGHT have developed, a version in which both, the older woman and the very young man found a mutual love. (How long could THAT be happy?)

To my eye, she looked through the stolen telescope backwards. That is, instead of a magnified image, she would have been seeing a greatly reduced image: had it been her eye she was seeing with.

If so, Kieslowski doesn’t rub our noses in it. There ARE symbols he does rub our noses in: the milk for example, the spilled milk, for example. (And little throw-away jokes — like the gas company men checking for gas leaks with an open flame!) (Was that a stab at Commie administration?)


So many marvelous micro-moments in that film, in any Kieslowski film. Lighting a torch to confirm that there’s no gas leak is cute. But I adore all of the movie’s commerce in abuse by monopoly: Tomek works for the post office. (Hey, you don’t have to be a helpless East European Commie for that to be a monopoly!) He sends Magda forged notices that she’s received a money order. The second time she comes the post-mistress accuses her — her the individual, her the victim — of fraud! (The third time Magda goes to the post office, she says nothing, won’t even go in!)

Even delivering the milk may be a Commie monopoly. And Tomek abuses his role there too. (But the step-mother, who’s been spying on Tomek, and on her own son presumably, now delivering the milk while Tomek is in the hospital is simply fabulous. All these people mingle good with bad, fertility with sterility …


I reserve space for more comments should I think of such. If I weren’t being called by other modules, both existing and demanding-to-be-born, I’d linger now with this marvelous fiction.

2012 10 05 I don’t have a date for when I mounted this @ K. But I don’t think I’d founded the Movie folder yet. 2001, 2002?

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About pk

Seems to me that some modicum of honesty is requisite to intelligence. If we look in the mirror and see not kleptocrats but Christians, we’re still in the same old trouble.
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