Film Reviews

Moral Dilemma

Originally made for Polish TV in 1987, and seen only sporadically at special festival and museum showings, Kieslowski's epic series of 10 hour-long films, each based on one of the Ten Commandments, continues with two episodes. Episode VII, "Thou Shalt Not Steal," raises the question of whether or not it's possible to steal something that is yours, as a young mother kidnaps her daughter, who has been raised by the girl's grandmother to believe that the two of them are sisters. It's one of the stronger pieces. Episode VIII, "Thou Shalt Not Bear False Witness," also brings up an ethical dilemma--refusing to hide children from the Nazis during wartime out of fear--but utilizes an unfortunately obvious device: that of a college course on ethics, one in which the story from Episode II in the series is actually referred to, only to have its open issues quickly resolved by students and teacher. Both are visually stunning, and VII is truly wrenching, but VIII, despite some fine acting, is the weakest thus far.