[Review by Antony Stubbs]
[Writer: Krzysztof Kieslowski and Krzysztof Piesiewicz | Director: Krzysztof Kieslowski | Aired: 12/10/1989]
“Scepticism is the beginning of Faith.” – Oscar Wilde
Many film directors are somewhat contemptuous of television as a medium and are accordingly loathe to operate within its confines, or perhaps merely use it as a career springboard to attain recognition in order to reach the Silver Screen.
In 1989, and perhaps even now, it was especially unusual for an established film director, an unmistakable auteur, no less, to voluntarily use the medium of the television series for his next project. In his first and only venture into this world, Krzysztof Kieslowski struck gold, crafting a series of ten short films that defied comparison, adhered to his personal artistic sensibilities and allowed him to explore questions that were dear to him.
The reliably truculent director once stated, “A few years ago, the French newspaper Libération asked various directors why they made films. I answered at the time: because I don’t know how to do anything else”. This evasive modesty masks a greater reality: he made films because the questions weighing on his mind had to find some form of expression, and his consummate skill and ambiguity in addressing these questions resulted in some of the finest works in cinema history, and indeed a remarkable television series.
Amongst the questions he found himself confounded by related to the Ten Commandments. Raised Catholic but later conflicted by his academic scepticism and the enervating atmosphere of his native Poland under the Communist regime, Kieslowski claimed to nevertheless maintain a “personal and private” relationship with God, a stance shared with the doctor in “II” [1×02].
Apparently, Kieslowski originally wanted the ten screenplays to be allotted to separate directors, before realising they carried such personal attachment that he resolved to direct all of them himself, with a different cinematographer for each instalment (with the sole exception of Piotr Sobocinski, who is utilised for both “III” [1×03] and “IX” [1×09]), including previous and future collaborators (Slawomir Idziak and Edward Klosinski respectively).
This was a shrewd move, as it allows each episode to present a fresh visual approach whilst retaining a core thematic sensibility. I myself am surprised that he ever even considered offering up the Dekalog screenplays to anyone else, as they are unabashedly Kieslowskian, and I wonder if any of his contemporaries could have invested them with his intellectual and emotional richness.
So what specifically perplexed Kieslowski about the Ten Commandments? As far as I can tell, the core problem was in their contemporary application. Though he felt the Commandments were fundamentally right, he also argued that various circumstances of modern life throw a spanner into the works that perhaps the Bible couldn’t have prepared us for.
The various characters we meet, deliberately ordinary folks in times of emotional crisis, largely operate as director surrogates, trying to arrive at a truth that will resolve their heartache. To this end, the episodes provide catharsis for Kieslowski, and given the emotional attachment he provides, for the audience as well.
“For 6,000 years, these rules have been unquestionably right. And yet we break them every day. People feel that something is wrong in life. There is some kind of atmosphere that makes people now turn to other values. They want to contemplate the basic questions of life, and that is probably the real reason for wanting to tell these stories.” – Krzysztof Kieslowski
So the obstacle for the director comes in the form of treating each Commandment as rigidly fundamental. I find an acute relation to these stories and this approach, speaking as a non-believer who accepts the possibly of divine intervention and that the core values of Christianity are agreeable. I believe that I share a connection with Kieslowski insofar as questioning inflexible directives in a vacillating world.
Happily, as a deft and subtle filmmaker, Kieslowski never treats each Commandment as an absolute. He works within the shades of grey, and never once claims to have ‘answered’, rewritten or bolstered any of the ancient text, rather exploring them by means of artistic expression. At the same time, he continues with existing directorial motifs (chance, resurrection, ambiguity, grief, isolation, etc) that would also inform his subsequent works.
Consider the religious groups and individuals who acknowledge contemporary conundrums (usually in light of recent disasters) by appointing themselves as educators in their community meetings and literature, reiterating scripture in a manner that their immediate audience would find understandable and invariably ‘correct’. Kieslowski, by contrast, would undoubtedly reject such a pedestal.
The series has been met with no small amount of praise. Stanley Kubrick claimed Dekalog was the only masterpiece made in his lifetime. Robert Fulford wrote that “it may be the best dramatic work ever done specifically for television, and the most impressive religious art produced in any field during recent decades”. A recent review by Joshua Klein asserted that “Kieslowski achieves that rare feat: a seamlessly unified diverse anthology that gets closer than almost any film to what it means to be human”. It wasn’t just industry figures who were impressed: The Vatican included it on the ‘Values’ component of their 45 Great Films list in 1995. But don’t just take their word for it, let me take you on a journey…
“I” serves as a perfect introduction to the series. Notably, the Commandment in question is not presented onscreen. This is absolutely crucial; though “I” is the most self-contained of all the episodes, and adheres to its Commandment with more conviction than the rest, Kieslowski doesn’t want us to think of the Dekalog as didactic lectures, nor does he try to claim that a single episode complies to a single Commandment and should therefore be viewed in a vacuum.
Nevertheless, the general consensus is that “I” concerns the Commandment “I am the Lord thy God; thou shalt have no other gods before me”. Before we delve into the plot and its relation to the directive, let’s first take a look at the opening scene.
“I” starts with characteristic stillness and a propulsive and cryptic visual style before arriving at its core scenario. A stretch of water leading from a partially-frozen lake is our very first image, and water itself will become a recurring motif throughout the series.
As the camera cranes up, we encounter a solemn-looking man (Artur Barcis) sitting nearby. The man is aware of our presence, and as the show unfolds, he seems tragically aware of all of his surroundings. A lot of discussion has been made of his relevancy to the series: is he God? An angel? Does he represent us, as an audience? Kieslowski is naturally cagey on the subject. There is no concrete answer, so one is compelled to return his look and identify his character as ‘pure gaze’: a being who is present merely to observe the personal, emotional and ethical positions of his peers, a silent witness in the truest sense of the word.
The editing divorces us from his direct stare for a brief scene, in which a woman walks slowly towards a TV monitor with tears in her eyes. Her movements bring her closer to the camera, extending an intimacy that will soon become typical of the visual style of the episode. We aren’t afforded the sound of the television as a beautifully melancholic score overrides it, so context has to be temporarily self-constructed.
A boy becomes the focus of the broadcast, and this sequence will return to close the episode. Presumably the woman has a connection to the boy or at least the subject of the programme, which strikes a deep emotional chord. We immediately cut from the broadcast to return to the man who breaks his gaze with the audience, to wipe away a tear.
This is followed by an extremely low angle of an imposing concrete edifice, a grim block of flats which we will call home for the next ten episodes. Pigeons then scatter, providing the first diegetic sound of the episode, thereby disrupting the indeterminate ‘pocket’ we have hitherto occupied, and then begins to establish the milieu.
Let’s address the opening in detail. Though a sense of timescale is only alluded to by the editing, the scene suggests that the man and woman are moved to tears by the same event. As the episode unfolds, we establish that the woman moved by the TV report is Irena, aunt to the boy in the broadcast, Pawel, who eventually drowns in the course of the story.
With the power of hindsight, and assuming the man’s appearance on the ice (and his subsequent disappearance following the show’s pivotal ethical moment, such is his wont throughout the series) precedes all subsequent events, the implication is such that he is not only pure gaze but perhaps prescient, making him not only an observer but doubly powerless by being aware of future tragedies yet incapable of intervention. This theory is especially reinforced in “VI” [1×06], when he offers a slight smile to Tomek, which quickly fades, and “IX” [1×09], in which he watches Roman launch himself down an incomplete road.
If he does represent the audience, then we too are merely spectators, and unable to intervene in anything that unfolds, even if we have already arrived at an ethical stance on the situation. If, however, he is indeed sibylline, then he can only hope that his mere presence will somehow confer a warning onto the recipient of his survey. Given that he is capable of making a physical impact on the world, the implication might then be that he is forbidden from acting directly, rather than being literally incapable. Because this is Kieslowski, one can only surmise. In any case, he is hurt but undeterred, and will remain with us for nearly all of our stay in Warsaw.
Throughout the rest of “I”, in which the man makes his most frequent appearance, his other manifestations similarly occur at crucial moments. His next is juxtaposed between shots of Pawel leaving his home with his father Krzysztof, walking past a schoolfriend soldiering on through the harsh weather past a church (another character who curiously has his attention but remains mute for that moment), the frame marking him as tiny against the structure, and then a frozen dog which a tearful Pawel makes physical contact with in the interests of understanding.
Later, after a conversation between Pawel and Irena in which she shows him photos of the Pope, Pawel asks “Is he kind? Clever? Do you think he understands the meaning of life?”, denoting not only his own precocity but his notion that intelligence will arrive at universal understanding, a by-product of his father’s deductive atheist thinking.
Next he appears between Krzysztof’s metasemantics lecture and an experiment in which the father and son leave a milk bottle outside to see if it’s cold enough to freeze. Interestingly, although we see that they routinely turn to the computer for specific calculations (which holds its subjects in an unnatural green aura), at this stage they will still only arrive at concrete deduction by practical experiment (nonetheless, when Pawel suggests they leave it to see what happens next, Krzysztof states confidently he already knows: “When it thaws, it will melt. In the sun or whatever”).
This beautifully segues into his final appearance, when Krzysztof tries out the ice’s resistance for himself and encounters him next to his roaring fire. This quiet moment of recognition proves vital: the gaze has become reciprocal, though Krzysztof naturally cannot make sense of the exchange. His subsequent disappearance speaks volumes: thanks to Krzysztof’s stubborn worldview, he has failed to transmit a message. The consequences are dire, and the man will not be party to them any longer.
The building itself is also worthy of mention, as this is our introduction to it, and it makes something of a quiet character in and of itself. This grey, foreboding tenement looms high on the horizon throughout the Dekalog, all brutalist angles and tiny windows. The interiors aren’t much more pleasant, providing its occupants with little in the way of space or comfort. Indeed, several camera movements in the series highlight the difficulty of moving around in such confines and several shots (especially in “IX” [1×09]) box the characters in further with awkward places for doors and furniture that serve to narrow the frame.
Kieslowski was keen to avoiding stressing the location as a Polish construction (perhaps a consequence of the censorship of his early documentaries), arguing the stories could just as easily take place in New York or Tokyo, but I think its important to at least acknowledge the exact point and place at which Dekalog transpires.
Dekalog was made only a year or so after the abolition of state censorship and state control was relinquished over film production, and “X” [1×10] was aired weeks before the end of Communism in Poland. Though the majority of Poland’s grim housing blocks still exist, these surrounding events offer the glimpse of hope that Dekalog‘s many weary window-gazers were looking for. This point is worth briefly returning to in “X” [1×10].
What is important to bear in mind is that this building serves as a reminder that all of the stories and violations of the Commandments are directly centralised in this one space, and though the block literally brings people together spatially, the frequent loneliness experienced by the characters isn’t aided by the building’s design which serves to isolate them all (fellow Pole Roman Polanski held a similar viewpoint in the first half of his career). Apparently Kieslowski chose the “most beautiful” block of flats he could find for the show: “it looks pretty awful, so you can imagine what the others are like”.
By means of compensation, the episode bridges the gap with a number of close-ups of the characters, which I feel highlight Kieslowski’s sympathy with ordinary people – he looks through the windows of the drab locale and finds wonderful, loving or at least sympathetic people there, and invites us in too.
The best examples of this are in Pawel’s heart-to-hearts with his guardians; when he tries to make sense of the dead dog and when Irena tries to explain God in layman’s terms. The latter is especially moving because several cuts incrementally bring the two closer together, so that when she makes that impromptu hug, I almost feel part of it.
The three principals in “I” to me indicate the clearest personal touch in the Dekalog, in that I feel they all represent Kieslowski in a particular manner. Their connections through the episode indicate a criss-crossing of opinion or attitude in Kieslowski, as befits a director who is quick to state he doesn’t have all the answers. If he is anything like me, he must have spent far too many hours of his life working out an argument in his head, with facets of his consciousness taking different sides, perhaps never arriving at a satisfactory resolution.
Krzysztof represents the rational part of Kieslowski, the lapsed Catholic, the academic. Krzysztof’s world is one of calculable certainties. This is expressed nowhere better than at the university, where his linguistics lecture illustrates his confidence in breaking things down by reasoned enquiry. He also elaborates by claiming that an ‘apparatus’ possessed of all world knowledge might also be capable of selecting preferences, and therefore capable of choice.
His suggestion (from a figurative pulpit) has the audience rapt, including his son, and finds a form of acknowledgement when he finds his computer switched on at home, to which he asks, “Colleague, what do you want?”, clearly treating it as something of an equal, perhaps potentially superior. Kieslowski never made a sci-fi film, and I think that his humanism and the outcome of Krzysztof’s confidence in machine intelligence suggest that the director never considered the ‘robot superhuman’ an acceptable notion.
Still, for the most part, Krzysztof’s theories prove correct. The chess game he and, moreover, Pawel take part in is won by strategy. They map out a prediction, and it proves accurate. The look on the bested champion’s face seems to suggest both disappointment and pleasant surprise.
This sense of utter reliability affords Krzysztof a modicum of power. His vision thus parallels the computer, thinking in binary (yes/no, is/isn’t) or the strategy of chess – he needs concrete prediction, the sort of prediction that seems to come naturally to the recurring man by the ice, the same ice that claims Pawel’s life after his calculations claim the event impossible.
Whilst his overarching trust in calculation eventually not only results in disaster but paves its way, Krzysztof isn’t boxed into a corner. He clearly loves his son and tries his best to ensure his safety. His mistake, then, is to utilise a fallible tool in an attempt to verify that safety, one outside of nature and therefore unaffected by its whims – I feel we’re encouraged to look at it switching ‘itself’ on as Kieslowskian chance, and tellingly, Krzysztof doesn’t seem to learn from it.
Irena represents the believer side of Kieslowski, who holds scripture to heart. She is afforded a lot less screen time than Krzysztof, which I think tells us a lot about the extent to which Kieslowski has compartmentalised his faith, though it is never considered ‘gone’. It would be easy for a lesser writer or director to write Irena unsympathetically, as either wilfully ignorant of the world beyond The Word or dismissive of Pawel’s development and curiosity. Thankfully, she is much more well-rounded.
The marvellously touching scene in which they chat about God finds Pawel in partial disbelief that his father and aunt are even related, such is the contrast. But neither party is fully disdainful of the attitude of the other. Krzysztof doesn’t entertain the notion of a soul when Pawel asks him about the meaning of death, explaining it in purely mechanical terms. But come the phone call with Irena in which she explains that she is has arranged for Pawel to attend religious classes, he doesn’t put up any resistance. This indicates that Irena is perhaps a little more open-minded, and is comfortable in a world in which the divine and the scientific sit side-by-side. That sense of power I mentioned regarding Krzysztof? Irena expects none such from God.
Note her pleasure in seeing Pawel use the computer to lock the doors and switch the taps on, before he shows her his program that works out what his mother is doing at that moment. Her first and only question is to see if the computer knows her dreams. It doesn’t, of course, but she assures Pawel that she dreams of him, and imparts a little happiness.
Pawel, then, is Kieslowski’s memory of himself as a young boy, perhaps somewhat idealised. He is inquisitive, bright, intuitive and eager to please. The structure of the episode is designed to illustrate Pawel’s journey. Open to all his surroundings and adult guidance, he finds himself trying to adhere to both pillars of wisdom in his life, hoping that he can arrive at ‘meaning’ via both their viewpoints.
Ultimately, his devotion or idolatry pertains more to his father, and accordingly his approach to life (consider the kiss he plants after they win the chess game) – once his curious nature leads him to the skates he was expecting for Christmas, his fate is sealed.
Throughout our last few encounters with Pawel, he discovers his dad’s theories prove accurate, and becomes similarly guilty of blind faith in mechanics. Krzysztof’s willingness to let him use his Christmas present early suggests he is impressed with his sleuthing (deductive investigation) and, tragically, the shared over-confidence in calculation – note that he gets Pawel to call the weather board, unintentionally making him complicit in his ‘positive’ forecast.
This mirror shakes Krzysztof to the core by not only robbing him of his son, it also exposes his perspective as fundamentally imperfect, and no doubt forces him to contemplate why he couldn’t have been taken instead. I would also argue that the university scene marks Pawel as a true young Kieslowski by the POV shots that indicate a makeshift viewfinder.
Curiously, there is no explanation for Pawel’s mother’s absence, and yet this informational veto allows Kieslowski to say more about it by not saying anything at all – if she is absent thanks to a divorce or a domestic squabble, this might colour our feelings towards Krzysztof, or in a more practical sense, perhaps, effectively counterpoint Pawel’s path so that he never attains quite so strong a bond with his father. We can only speculate, and so with this lack of solid information perhaps we learn alongside Krzysztof to avoid making precepts.
It’s also interesting to note that in place of a mother figure, milk features as a reminder of the maternal, and will reoccur throughout the Dekalog. It emerges here three times: it’s sour when Krzysztof pours it into his tea, Pawel is given an “awful” ration at school as part of an educational scheme (putting it at ‘fault’ in both events), and when Krzysztof and Pawel leave the empty bottle outside to test the temperature. Pawel asks if she’ll call before Christmas, foreshadowing “III” [1×03] and propagating his desire for his present.
In evaluating “I”, especially in relation to its function as the introduction to the series, I feel it is particularly important to stress what it is not, and that would be Christian propaganda. Whilst arguably the most direct episode in terms of implying the Commandment and the characters’ loss in light of its defiance, Krzysztof’s punishment, if you will, comes from an abstract reading of that Commandment.
As each episode deals indirectly with their corresponding rule, if follows that “I” isn’t simply about a cause-effect sanction, and that the show would undoubtedly grow stale fast if each transgression was met with Old Testament-style retribution. Nor do I feel that if Pawel’s journey was presented as moving towards the spiritual faith world (braving the lake through religious conviction) I still feel Kieslowski would still have ‘shown’ him falling through the ice.
Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple.
“If you are the Son of God”, he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written: He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone”.
Jesus answered him, “It is also written: Do not put the Lord your God to the test”. – Matthew 4:5-7
So as far as I’m concerned, the lesson to be learned from “I” is not that it is wrong to value anything above God, but to place blind trust in anything. The challenge that Kieslowski faced in this episode regarding the modern application of the Commandment comes in the form of a suitable replacement for faith, and in the late ’80s and especially now, the computer would seem to be a logical substitute. Technology is extremely useful to our lives, and can provide and process scores of information. What it can’t or shouldn’t do is reduce our lives to their mechanics, treating established data as predetermination. With an absence of genuine faith, Krzysztof uses his accoladed device to play God, and Pawel pays the price for this arrogance. The folly here is one of idolatry: Krzysztof deifies the machine.
Krzysztof’s decision to allow Pawel on the ice not only arrives halfway through the episode, it also functions as the ethical fulcrum that divides the story into two distinct halves. Sadly, the moment at which Pawel seems most happy (gleeful at finding his skates and looking forward to using them) is also the last time we see him. Thanks to deft direction and Krzysztof’s disinclination to a world beyond the facts, the tragic ending arrives despite a number of portents and bad omens:
Seeing the man by ice gave him momentary pause for thought, but he remains undeterred. On his way home he passes by the church with its congregation of followers – next time he goes there it will be following catastrophe.
The next day, the scene opens with a God’s eye view of his immediate neighbourhood. Hard at work, Krzysztof suddenly finds a darkness encroaching through his papers. He pauses; it looks otherwordly, but it turns out it’s just an ink spill. His look says it all: he’s not upset, just surprised. This shouldn’t have happened, but it did.
Before he has time to wash his hands, a girl appears at the door asking if Pawel is in. Once again, nothing seems terribly out of the ordinary. Then, from the same God’s eye view, a fire engine moves past the block, and the phone rings. It’s the mother of a local boy, Marek, presumably one of Pawel’s friends. Again, it hasn’t quite registered, and still doesn’t when he passes a neighbouring couple hurtling down the stairs.
Krzysztof is then shot from the same angle as Pawel when we first saw him leave the block; following in his footsteps. The penny doesn’t quite drop until he finds Pawel’s English teacher, who had to dismiss her charges thanks to sickness. Chance is perhaps the most recurring Kieslowskian theme, and here it is employed to illustrate a point about the folly of assumption – if the English class had gone ahead, Pawel wouldn’t have gone to the lake.
His mind racing, Krzysztof stands in the darkness of the corridor before heading out again. As he does so, he passes a despairing mother and Pawel’s schoolfriend. He refutes the claim that the ice could have broke, but whether this illustrates his rationale tumbling down or him saying what he wants the mother to hear is entirely subjective. When he calls Irena, he finally begins to make indirect correlations, stating that he spilled the ink, thereby recognising it as an ill omen.
Nevertheless, he’s not done with technology yet, as he takes a CB out to try and find Pawel, to no avail. With night approaching, a small light appears to shine on a couple nearby, part of a gathering crowd. Krzysztof makes the association – it comes from an unattended fire, the same one that he saw the man warm himself by previously. When a young boy appears, Jacek, the couple are ecstatic to find him alive, and Krzysztof is encouraged to chase after them, to see if Jacek knows where Pawel is.
This whole sequence is shot in hand-held, increasing the urgency. In stark contrast to the number of close-ups in the episode, here the camera allows Krzysztof to run off in the final shot, making him suddenly appear mightily insignificant. Lamentably, he only arrives at a concrete conclusion as to Pawel’s fate when it is expressed in words by Jacek, such is the importance of solid information to Krzysztof.
I feel that everything I’ve mentioned here is vital for understanding Krzysztof as a character, because we as an audience carry a burden similar to the man by the ice – we know the format, and the topical framework of the programme, so though we want him to figure it out sooner and get to the lake ASAP, his stubborn intractability doesn’t permit him to make that conclusion so quickly. Even when the body is retrieved (a marvellously touching scene of quiet dignity), he remains standing whilst the community sinks to their knees in condolence. Nothing makes sense anymore.
In the aftermath of Krzysztof and Irena’s loss, he finds himself suddenly illuminated by a familiar sickly green glow – the computer, the “colleague”, the tool by which he unwittingly sent his son to his death, powers up again. As he registers its inexplicable awareness, it makes a single claim: “I am ready”.
We finally see the interior of the church as Krzysztof enters, a sense of vengeance in his eyes. His immediate reaction is one of anger as he collapses the altar, causing candle wax to approximate tears on the painting of the Black Madonna. Clearly, Krzysztof needs someone to blame. But while destroying an altar may seem an odd way for someone to reconnect with God, his decision to direct the blame here suggests that Krzysztof has reaccepted his Catholicism.
If, however, we are to believe Kieslowski maintains a critical stance towards this Commandment, then it suggests that Krzysztof will avoid holding onto blind faith like a liferaft, rather than simply claiming God > science, swapping one devotion for another. Indeed, Irena hardly ends the episode any happier for being a believer from the start. I also feel a much lesser director would have Krzysztof smash his computer apart instead.
At the close of this sequence, we get what I feel is Kieslowski’s masterstroke: having calmed down somewhat after his violent outburst, Krzysztof stands at the baptismal font, and puts his hand inside to cross himself with the holy water. What he discovers is that the water has frozen too, but he removes a disc of ice and tries to bless himself with it anyway. So this becomes a very bittersweet moment: the gesture subtly reaffirms his faith and quashes his previous sense of convictions, but the coldness also provides a physical idea of what Pawel must have gone through in the last few minutes of his life. What can I say but: quietly devastating.
The episode bookends with a return to the image of the broadcast recorded at Pawel’s school, now within context, of course. The memory remains.
Ultimately I feel another question is prompted by the denouement. How many of us, believers and atheists alike, have prayed or asked for external help in their darkest hour? In these instances, emotional impulse overrides any rationale typically employed as a shield in the harsh light of day. Kieslowski shows Krzysztof accepting God begrudgingly, and only by reactionary means – might this newfound faith afford him little succour in the light of this personal tragedy? And might he eventually abandon God again when or if he emerges from the grieving process?
This oblique sense of closure will become something of a hallmark for the show… welcome to Dekalog.
Minor Pros/Cons (+/-)
+ The immediate cut from Pawel touching the guinea pig’s sharp teeth to the abrasive sound of kids scraping on the ice. This editing decision makes for a small jarring reaction, not unlike the sound of pigeons scattering that opens up the show proper.
+ Pawel implusively kisses Krzysztof after they win the chess game, and Krzysztof has him kiss his bald patch after he finds the skates. These little moments of tenderness exemplify their bond and make the drama hit home a little more.
+ Krzysztof applying a little cologne before heading out. We never get confirmation of his wife’s wherebouts or the circumstances of their marriage, but this little throwaway moment suggests he might have a date.
+ The image of the skates above Pawel’s bed: you want to feel happy for him treasuring his present, but they’ll soon be instruments of tragedy.
+ When panic sets in, Krzysztof freezes on the stairs and starts counting to calm himself down. While this is a very common reaction for people under stress, it seems especially pertinent to Krzysztof as someone who holds rationale and logic above all else.
+ The weird scrutiny from the guy in the lift. We don’t see the lift in use again until “IV” [1×04], where it’s filmed in the same way and used for a subtle chance encounter.
+ We never clearly see Pawel being pulled out of the lake; the dredging is filmed from a distance and his death is only implied by reactions in the next shot. Cinema.
+ Krzysztof doesn’t turn around when Irena holds him from behind, he just knows it’s her.
– It took me several viewings to notice it, but after Krzysztof washes his hands and looks in the mirror, the top of a cameraman’s head is briefly visible. For such an exacting and precise director, it’s surprising a goof like this made it into the final cut.