"Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour". A Polish-American researcher visits Warsaw and attends a lecture about ethics. Afterwards, she approaches Zofia, the lecturer, and... See full summary »
"Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour". A Polish-American researcher visits Warsaw and attends a lecture about ethics. Afterwards, she approaches Zofia, the lecturer, and says that she is the little Jewish girl whom Zofia refused to shelter during World War II. But Zofia has a very good reason for her apparent cowardice... Written by
Michael Brooke <email@example.com>
"Thou shalt not bear false witness" is the commandment in question being addressed by director Kieslowski. The anti-Jewish sentiment is merely a vehicle to study the Christian commandment threadbare. Is the concept of Christian charity second to a commandment? The film is ambiguous about the director/writer's view on this yet we suspect the director is not taking a clear stand. He does take a stand on the God within each of us--the goodness, the humane aspect of each of us is the last word.
This film is one of the few in which we seem to get a peek at the real Kieslowski. The initial parts of the film keep religion out of focus and in the background. The church/shrine at Leobowski is initially never shown in focus--you only see the lighted candles before an altar/shrine. Later in the film the Jewish girl is seen praying at the Christian site (an act confirmed later in the film through the dialogue).
The film begins with reproach of one wronged at age 6 by a "religious" Catholic who refuses to be charitable out of fear of repercussions, hiding behind the Commandment. The film ends with the main characters coming closer in a new bonding through understanding through re-evaluation of new facts and a theological reconciliation. Momentarily, even the viewer is made to suspect the Catholic woman's credibility as she presents her case to the grown-up "child". But the "wronged" child undergoes a transformation--she begins to like the woman who did not bear witness, a lonely woman whose son has left her, a remorseful woman teaching ethics.
The brilliant culmination of the film is the final presentation of the tailor's character--the man, a Christian, who was ready to save a Jewish child--who knowing everything refuses to discuss the past, present and future--a man who has evidently faced a lot of torment. He watches dispassionately the bonding between the two women as the film ends.
The elder woman anticipates the reaction of the tailor and waits outside the shop. The woman who straightens the stubborn painting that refuses to align, the woman who has lost her biological son in society, gains the understanding of the child she wronged. The goodness in man comes out in this episode of Dekalog, sometimes silently (the tailor), sometimes evocatively (the Jewish girl who prays alone after reconciling with religions and finding a different woman in the person she thought was different and inhuman).
The camera-work is not as good as in Dekalog 7, but the all performances and the minimalist music are just stunning.
However, there are questions left unanswered. What was the interruption in the classroom all about? Why was the opening scene of the child of 6 being led by an adult necessary? Why did the tailor not talk after recognizing her? Are there political metaphors here? I had the good fortune of meeting the Director 8 years before he made this film. How I wish I had met him now!
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