Dekalog, A Single Vision

Still the best binge watch in motion-picture history, Krzysztof Kieślowski’s Dekalog dramatizes the highest of concepts—a film for each of the Ten Commandments—in the most beautifully grounded way. Kieślowski and his writing partner, the lawyer Krzysztof Piesiewicz, tackled grand moral and ethical dilemmas with pitiless empathy and great restraint. Each hourlong Dekalog episode is a marvel of humane nuance and no-frills narrative finesse. Together they benefit from many unifying factors: the common setting, in and around a single Warsaw housing block; the emotive austerity of Zbigniew Preisner’s music; the clever layerings of story overlaps; the consistently note-perfect casting. In fact, the overall vision is so unified that you might not believe Dekalog made use of nine different cinematographers. There is a catechism of sorts to be found here, if you want one, about the principles of cinematic storytelling. If the question is: How do you know what is most important? One answer is: Prioritize the human face.