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A Short Film About Killing (1988)
"Krótki film o zabijaniu" (original title)

8.1
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Ratings: 8.1/10 from 8,610 users  
Reviews: 34 user | 33 critic

The plot couldn't be simpler or its attack on capital punishment (and the act of killing in general) more direct - a senseless, violent, almost botched murder is followed by a cold, ... See full summary »

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Title: A Short Film About Killing (1988)

A Short Film About Killing (1988) on IMDb 8.1/10

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Cast

Credited cast:
Miroslaw Baka ...
Krzysztof Globisz ...
Piotr Balicki (Advocate)
Jan Tesarz ...
Waldemar Rekowski (Taxi driver)
Zbigniew Zapasiewicz ...
Przewodniczacy Komisji
Barbara Dziekan ...
Bileterka
Aleksander Bednarz ...
Kat
Jerzy Zass ...
Naczelnik
Zdzislaw Tobiasz ...
Judge
Artur Barcis ...
Young Man
...
Dorota
Olgierd Lukaszewicz ...
Andrzej
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Leonard Andrzejewski
Wieslaw Bednarz
Zbigniew Borek
Ryszard W. Borsucki
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Storyline

The plot couldn't be simpler or its attack on capital punishment (and the act of killing in general) more direct - a senseless, violent, almost botched murder is followed by a cold, calculated, flawlessly performed execution (both killings shown in the most graphic detail imaginable), while the murderer's idealistic young defence lawyer ends up as an unwilling accessory to the judicial murder of his client. Written by Michael Brooke <michael@everyman.demon.co.uk>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Crime | Drama

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

26 October 1988 (France)  »

Also Known As:

No matarás  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The quote mentioned by Piotr during his final examination, "...since Cain the world has neither been intimidated nor ameliorated by punishment ...", is from Karl Marx (explaining why the examiners know the source), published on January 28, 1853. See more »

Quotes

Jacek Lazar: I didn't listen in court, not until you called to me. They were all... all against me.
Piotr Balicki: Against what you did.
Jacek Lazar: Same thing...
See more »

Connections

Edited into Histoire(s) du cinéma: Une histoire seule (1989) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Morality of Murder {Krzysztof Kieslowski}
8 July 2011 | by (Planet Earth) – See all my reviews

Although this movie concerns itself with one of the paramount taboos, its evocative intensity is kept quite impassive. Perhaps the intention is to allow the viewer the freedom of choice: to either accept consciously, the facts of life, with all its "red in tooth and claw" aspects, {a form of realism}, or to resist the blind, impulsive irrationality of sado- masochistic gratification with all its pathological undertones.

Kieslowski divides his tale into three main parts - the first part introduces the three main characters - the candidate advocate who is being examined by the Board for his Bar entrance - we are introduced to a man of a sensitive nature, thoughtful and unconvinced after four years of practice that punishment is a deterrent {although he concedes that it might be a deterrent ,or at least intimidatory to those for whom crime is not a natural calling}. He offers a reference from Genesis stating that the threat of punishment did not deter Cain from murdering Abel. The next character is a youth who walks aimlessly looking at cinema posters, amusing himself in rebellious and anti-social ways. The third character is a taxi driver who is seen cleaning and shining his car. Kieslowski has given him a rather disagreeable personality.

The second part of the movie has the three main characters slowly and inexorably moving towards each other so that the precise details of their intertwined destinies can be unfolded. The advocate is seen with his wife in the same coffee house as the punkish youth. The youth then randomly selects a taxi to drive him to a desolate country road where in a slowly enacted, drawn out scene, he garottes and bludgeons the taxi driver, who begs for mercy on behalf of his wife and children. The viewer is left in no doubt as to the horror of the act as the youth raises a large stone and smashes the victims head with it.

The movie then experiences a jump cut in editing as the capture and trial of the murderer are omitted and the thread of the story continues with the youth being found guilty. This causes the advocate to go through a soul searching period of whether his defence of the youth was competent. Kieslowski, finally allows the viewer biographical access to the life of the youth/murderer - this is the only part of the movie driven by emotional values as we learn of the tragedies in his life and his need to be reassured that at least in death he would be buried close to his father and sister whom he both obviously loved. This is a brilliant preparatory moment as the viewer is made conscious of this up -to-now abstract figure, who up to this point had elicited no sympathy at all. Now the viewer is jolted into consciousness as the humanity of the murderer transforms him back into a human being.

The third part of the movie - the final curtain, is the carrying out of the death penalty.Unlike Hollywood, where as in "Dead Man Walking", Sean Penn is shown walking to his doom still embracing his pride - Kieslowski depicts the taking of life, first, with the murder of the taxi driver in a long protracted scene, and then with the Judicial murder, a heart wrenching display of fear and struggle leaving the viewer feeling personally assaulted and gut-wrenched {at least that's how I felt}.

Only a master of the practice of art could have pulled this off. When one thinks of what to reference this movie to, other movies don't come to mind. Rather one has to look at literature {as I'm sure Kieslowski did}. Dostoevsky's "Crime and Punishment" and Musil's "The Man Without Qualities" spring to mind. I take the fact that this movie is to be compared with major works of literary art to be high praise indeed

If you want more than pulp movies then this philosophical discourse on the nature of life and death will leave you somehow enhanced and certainly more aware. Highly recommended.


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Recent Posts
Anti-Capital Punishment antwalsh
Kieslowki -one of the best all time directors and also very underrated Scipio28
Is It Significantly Different from Hour Version? webuiltthiscityonrockand
'Since Cain, no punishment has proved to be an adequate remedy.' dan_saunders151
about the taxi driver etc. petermichaelwilson
the Nursery rhyme sherlockchanhk
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