>Great movies of the 80’s: A Short Film About Killing

>Originally posted July 07, 2007.

This is one of those movies which will make you feel uneasy. The opening sequence, a dead cat hanging from a rope, sets the pace, and then we’re off into the landscapes that constitutes Warsaw and its Polish dullness, darkness and dirty floors. The movie’s got a muddy colour tone throughout the whole 84 minutes, almost Twin Peaks-esque, which adds a lot to the overall feeling. It’s a slow movie, but very dense in actual content. It certainly gets your mind going.

We follow three parallel lives that intervene in a realistic way (not Memento- or Lucky Number Slevin-style, that is…): the anti-social loner who’s aimlessly drifting through the city observing people who are treating each other rather bad (just enough to make for some unnecessary irritation), the lawyer who’s eager to make an impact, and the arrogant cab driver.


It’s about the small annoying, unnecessary things we do in our everyday lives, like disrespecting each other, things that add up to mayhem in the very end. It’s also about the consequences of boredom combined with sick minds. And ultimately it tells the story of two (three? four?) murders, one of them being sanctioned by the state, and the other one might just as well be a result of just that – capital punishment. The vicious circle spins infinitely…

And I promise, I had no idea that Krzysztof Kieslowski directed this movie when I saw it. I’m no big fan of his movies, even though I find them interesting at times, but had I known he was behind this I might have approached it differently, being more sceptical. Good for me I didn’t know, then.

A Short Film About Killing (1988) is actually a feature lengt adaptation of his hour long piece belonging to the Dekalog series (modern representations of the ten commandments set in a socio-realist Warsaw in Poland). This one is obviously the “thou shall not kill” commandment in all its glory.

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