Thou Shalt Not Miss

Dead Man Stalking: Miroslaw Baka and Jan Tesarz in Krzysztof Kieslowski's A Short Film About Killing.

Krzysztof Kieslowski's two "short films" command a long look.

As Kieslowski turns coveting one's neighbor into the more universal act of voyeurism, the larger sin here is looking, wanting, and directing action without regard to the consequences. Like Rear Window, Love can be read as a metaphor for cinema. It's uncomfortable to watch, partly because it forces the viewer to accept the woman's frustrating passivity while also adopting the point of view of a lecherous male protagonist--which is business as usual by the standards of commercial cinema (i.e. Bed of Roses). But the difference is that, in place of fraudulent romance, Kieslowski asks us to consider the short distance between suitors and stalkers, movie girlfriends and mother figures, love and masochism. As in Killing, Love explicates a biblical commandment while thoroughly denying its meaning as a clear imperative; the more fundamentally religious among us would not approve. In both films, coveting is shown to be unavoidable in a society (even Poland's) where everything is bought and sold, and where people can only follow suit by selling themselves. If Kieslowski ever opts to come out of retirement, this might be the ideal starting point for his next movie. CP

A Short Film About Killing and A Short Film About Love are playing at the U Film Society's Nicholson Hall; call 627-4430 for showtimes.

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