"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...
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"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>
A woman haunted by the memories of her unhappy childhood.
Dekalog 8 introduces a debate about a situation described in the second episode of the series, with regard to some interesting researches about thematic morals made in an unadorned lecture hall. As in a game of mirrors, Kieslowski's magical poetry proposes subtle allusions, references, previous solutions analysed under different points of view.
The analysis of Elzbieta's personal story framed within the context of her restless past and recalled in the light of her present time made of painful and unavoidable confrontations proposes the harassing thought about our duty to God, about our moral obligations towards the Christian commandment, "Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour". Is it possible to be merciful to our fellowmen even at the risk of violating the dictates of divine commandments? Are we allowed to help people even if we are aware about the incompatibility between the ethical principles applied to the evidences of religion and the intention of "bearing false witness against our neighbour" to a good purpose? Is it really possible to give up the idea of getting out of the clutches of the Nazi police a six-year-old Jewish child in the desperate need of a certificate of baptism only on account of moral and religious scruples? The dramatic explanation between Elzbieta, haunted by the memories of her unhappy childhood, and Zofia, the elder woman who refused to give her a passport to safety many years ago, call to our minds a sense of bewilderment and affliction.
Both of them are afraid of something going up in smoke around them and nothing escapes their remembrances of a painful past. Sad remembrances of course, because nothing hurts like the truth. Crude in the same manner as a vivisection of the soul. Conjured up with surgical precision in the coldness of an utterly impersonal ambient. Maybe only a cathartic face to face between the two women would give life to new friendly relations made of comprehension, explanations, reconciliations. Kieslowski divides all humanity into two parts: the saviors and the saved. His strict dialectics traces all the uneven steps of the story in a very subtle way. He likes to give back to human dignity its state of primitive and natural innocence, deeply upset by a pressing sense of misinterpreted obedience to the precepts of the Church.
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