For Reel


A Short Film About Killing (1988)
March 25, 2011, 5:06 am
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Krzysztof Kieslowski

Two episodes from Krzysztof Kieslowski’s oft-praised Decalogue series were expanded into feature films – A Short Film About Killing and A Short Film About Love. The titular killing of the former references two murders which Kieslowski presents to be on an equally moral ground. In the first, a young delinquent, Jacek, ruthlessly kills a taxi driver without cause. After being sentenced to hang, the final scene documents his execution. Both of the deaths are played out in extensive length and detail and are daunting to get through. The murder of the taxi driver is familiar of Torn Curtain, wherein Hitchcock wished to present the difficulty it takes to kill a man, and the execution scene mirrors this mercilessness by depicting the mechanical preparation of the execution chamber. Slawomir Idziak, a frequent collaborator of Kieslowski’s who shot two of his masterpieces – Three Colors: Blue and The Double Life of Veronique – lights the film with strange green and rustic hues, which doesn’t take away from the gritty realism but rather sensationalizes the dreary ugliness of Jacek’s surroundings. Kieslowski’s inditement of the death penalty might have resonated more had he not tried to manipulate the audience’s sympathy by giving Jacek such a melodramatic backstory, but one has to praise the film’s achievement as a bitter, humanitarian outcry – while it is the mysteries of Kieslowski’s later films that often attribute to their power, this picture is unforgettable with it’s grim unambiguity.


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