Whereas, Ten Hours of Polish Film is NOT an Ordeal…

I came to Kieslowski for the fateful mystery of La Double Vie de Veronique, but I stayed for the unassuming, naturalistic power of the Dekalog.
This seminal ten-part series of films is playing this weekend at Symphony Space in NYC. POV has an excellent write-up, with good links to get you in the mood.
The Decalogue was one of the greatest unwatchable works of film, ever. For years in North America, the series, which Kieslowski and writer Krzysztof Piesiewicz originally made for Polish TV, was kept off of video and DVD by weird rights disputes. But it’d turn up at film festivals and cinematheques, and you’d suddenly have to figure out how to shoehorn ten hours of moviegoing into two or three days. It was an experience prewired to disappoint, or, more precisely, leave you wanting.
By 2000, I’d only managed to see half of the installments, when an odd one-year distribution agreement brought a bare-bones 2-DVD set to the market. I snapped it up, and since then I’ve been steeping regularly in some of the most engrossing storytelling around.
This year, The Decalogue reappeared in a far superior 3-disc format, complete with several Kieslowski interviews and other real supplementary material. So get up to Symphony Space for at least a couple of episodes, then watch and rewatch them at home. Of course, GreenCine rents them one disc at a time; it may be better, emotionally, to pace yourself.
[related: the effects of watching Dekalog on an impressionable new filmmaker]