Thou shalt not covet they neighbor’s stamp?

Anne Lindsay

Who’d ever think stamps could be so valuable? In Krzysztof Kieslowski’s film “Decalogue 10,” a single stamp leads two brothers to do several crazy things.

“Decalogue 10” is the last film in Kieslowski’s “Decalogue” project: 10 one-hour films inspired by the Ten Commandments. This particular film was devoted to the commandment, “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s goods.”

The film, like the rest of the series, takes place in Poland. It starts with two brothers – Artur, a punk rocker, and Jerzy, a mild-mannered accountant – at his father’s funeral. Neither brother was close to his father, who had devoted himself to stamp collecting.

The brothers, who appear to have been out of touch with each other for years, begin to bond over the stamp collection their father has left to both of them. When they find out the collection is worth millions of dollars, they too begin to take up their father’s obsession. For example, to protect their inheritance, they bar the windows and buy a guard dog. They also start searching for the one stamp missing from the collection, an endeavor which turns their lives inside out and upside down.

Kieslowski was one of Poland’s most revered filmmakers when he died in 1996 at the age of 53. He had won worldwide acclaim for his “Tricouleur Trilogy,” a series (“Blue,” “White” and “Red”) based upon the virtues of liberty, equality and fraternity. This series complements “Decalogue.”

Kieslowski initially envisioned “Decalogue” as an ambitious project to give young Polish directors their first shots at filmmaking, with each movie in the series helmed by a different director. However, after Kieslowski and his partner Krzystof Piesiewicz (who also co-wrote other Kieslowski works, including “No End,” “The Double Life Of Veronique” and “The Tricouleur Trilogy”) completed the screenplays, they realized they were too good to hand over to amateurs. Thus, Kieslowski decided to direct all 10 films himself, completing the entire series in under a year.

Kieslowski never relayed his reasons for creating the “Decalogue.” However, it has been seen as questioning morality, particularly since it was made during the decline of communism in Poland. As in the “Tricouleur Trilogy,” each “Decalogue” episode tells its own individual story. However, common threads run throughout the entire series. For example, all 10 tales involve people living in the same Warsaw apartment complex, and various characters who are the focus of one episode can be seen wandering in the background of others. Also, each of the main characters takes chances, presses destiny for a clarifying resolution and is involved in an irresolvable moral dilemma, where the stakes usually involve life and death.

“Decalogue 10,” the only comedic chapter in the series, will be shown four times in the Connelly Center Cinema: Saturday at 7 p.m., Sunday at 3:30 and 7:30 p.m. and Monday at 7 p.m. Admission is $3 for students and $4 for everyone else.

The Monday screening will feature speaker Dr. Ruth Perlmutter, who will both introduce the film and lead a discussion afterward, entitled, “Decalogue 10: Thou Shalt Not Covet Thy Neighbor’s Goods.” Perlmutter has previously spoken for the Cultural Film Series, including three successive weeks on the “Tricouleur Trilogy.”

For further information, call the communication department at x9-4750 or consult the Cultural Film Series website at