A SHORT FILM ABOUT KILLING, 1988
Cast: Miroslaw Baka, Krzysztof Globisz, Jan Tesarz, Zbigniew Zapasiewicz, Barbara Dziekan
The films follows the lives of three men, a malcontent Jacek (Miroslaw Baka) a misanthropic Taxi diver Jan (Waldemar Rekowski) and an idealistic lawyer Piotr (Krzysztof Globisz). All of their lives intertwine in a morbid connection that explores a deep and developed psychology of the characters. The film is intelligent in linking all the seemingly insignificant components to a poignant and tragic finale. The characters all have their own faults and there is a real manipulation of the audience in our relationship to the characters, who we want to succeed, despite an obvious ethical reason not to favour them. The main actors are brilliant in conveying their eccentric traits, whether they are romantically quixotic or cynically cruel; or just disaffected. Each character is expressed profoundly and with a clear desperation; a desperation to change their circumstances or to change someone else’s. But most importantly, it conveys desperation to live.
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The film is an extension of Kieslowski Decalogue, a series of films pertaining to the Ten Commandments. A Short Film About Killing is one of two films that were chosen to be made into feature films; the other is A Short Film About Love.
The film was made during the late eighties when Poland was still under soviet oppression; it is vital to understand the context of the film to fully grasp the characters in their social plight. The film is at the height of the “cinema of moral anxiety” which incidentally, was lead by Kieslowski. This was a tense and difficult time ethically, economically and politically, where oppression had reached a critical point and Poles were openly rejecting a relentless and corrosive authority. Thereafter, it is easier to understand why the protagonist Jacek behaved in such a way.
It is a difficult film to watch, there is an ominous feeling throughout that creates a visceral discomfort and yet one is captivated by the inevitable tragedy that befalls the protagonist. The film demonstrates a world of hypocrisy that has lost its humanity. A society that has given up on its future and cynically stumbles along to a merely practical existence. Thus, it is an important look at Warsaw and Poland during that time and what has changed since.
A Short Film About Killing is poetic in form. It was created by one of the masters of Polish cinema, Krzysztof Kieslowski. It is a film that’s despondently beautiful cinematography resonates in the viewers mind. The Director of Photography, Slawomir Idziak, had a considerable amount of creative freedom, which allowed him to experiment with filters. The film is shot with a green tint to represent and engender a broken society; a “spoilt world”. The state of the contemporary cinema, especially in Hollywood, puts a great pressure on editors and filmmakers to make quicker and more frequent cuts. It is done to provide for a generation of viewer, which has impatience and an unforgiving attention span; this film is of an older style of beautiful and reflective cinema. If one appreciates well composed and poignant images that have a different pass (that is perhaps a little more artistic), then one will enjoy this film.
The film is wholly brutal in conveying death and a devastating disregard for life. There is a powerful scene with a seven-minute murder that will linger and affect most people; even during a time where modern audiences have become desensitised to violence and terror. It is chilling and ruthless, as are many other scenes, which not only affect the audience with a sense of horror but also a great pathos. The film asks many questions of our society and humankinds understanding of justice. It is thoroughly provoking and asks for a considerable amount of interaction and contemplation by the audience. The film is crafted impressively and it is another demonstration of Kieslowski’s unique story telling ability. It is a difficult film to watch but it is one with substantial merit.
A SHORT FILM ABOUT KILLING