CFS presents ‘Decalogue 5’

Rickey Perez

The Fifth Commandment forbids murder. In “Decalogue 5: Thou Shalt Not Kill,” murder is the focus of the story, and justice, lack of compassion, punishment as revenge, regret, greed and preferential treatment are other lesser issues scattered throughout. Is capital punishment the same as murder? Is it wrong to help some people but not others? What becomes of a person who gets pleasure out of seeing others suffer?

These are a few questions that are explored in this cinematic drama that takes place in the waning years of communism in Warsaw, Poland.

“Decalogue” is a series of 10 55-minute episodes, one for each commandment. It was directed by filmmaker Krzysztof Kieslowski and hit the Polish broadcasting waves in 1988. It was not until 2000 that the series came to the United States on the independent film circuit via video. It was written by Kieslowski and Krzysztof Piesiewicz, a civil rights attorney. Piesiewicz claimed that the core of the “Decalogue” series was based on real-life experiences of clients he worked with and people he knew. “Decalogue 5: Thou Shalt Not Kill” is entirely in Polish with English subtitles.

The titles of each episode in the series are explicitly religious. However, Kieslowski, an admitted agnostic, expresses the religious messages in the film through actions instead of words. He does so to an extant that religion is almost non-existent.

This episode contains three main characters: a troubled drifter in his early 20s who vents out at the world through deviant acts and crimes, an older taxi driver who makes decisions about who to help and who not to help in relation to what he stands to gain and a newly appointed defense attorney who struggles with the dilemma of the justice system in communist Poland. The drifter, Lazar Jacek, crosses paths with the taxi driver and brutally murders him in a random act of violence. The defense attorney is assigned to defend Jacek.

“Decalogue 5: Thou Shalt Not Kill,” part of the Spring 2007 offering of the Cultural Film & Lecture Series with the theme “Forgiveness,” will be screened four times in the Connelly Center Cinema: Saturday at 7 p.m., Sunday at 3:30 and 7 p.m. and Monday at 7 p.m. Admission is $3.50 for students with ID and $5 for everyone else.

The Monday showing only will feature speaker Dr. Joseph Betz who will provide an introduction to the film and lead a discussion afterward.

Betz is a professor in the philosophy department at Villanova University who has been involved in many social justice discussions and groups on campus such as Students Taking Action Now: Darfur.

For more information, contact the communication department at x9-4750 on weekdays between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., or consult the CFS Web page: