The Decalogue (1989) Episode 9
The Decalogue 9
Spoilers occur about the ending, this review is intended for those who have already watched the film.
Following some tests, 40-year-old Roman is diagnosed with impotence, and his world falls apart. He is a doctor who cares very much for his wife, Hanka, and he believes given the circumstances that she must take a lover. Little does he know, she already has a lover, who's name is Mariusz. Roman out of jealousy begins spying on Hanka, listening in to conversations on the phone, has a key made for the apartment of Hanka's mother, the rendezvous of the lovers. One day, Hanka surprises him, when he is lurking in the apartment. She understands that he feels hurt, she cares about him, and was it not her who told him, that love is of the heart and not between the legs? They talk some more about their relationship, and agree on, that maybe they need some time apart. She goes on a skiing holiday, and Roman realizes, that Mariusz is heading for the same destination, but Hanka is not aware of this. When she suspects Roman has put the pieces together, she hurries back to Warszawa, where Roman has attempted suicide.
Kieslowski sees Roman as a person not present in the now, Roman is somewhere else. His impotence is synonymous with a lack of a future, therefore he looks at the world differently.
Roman is not particularly mature for his age, he hasn't really grown up. Roman and Hanka are not interested in kids, his fulfillment you might think would come from his work as a doctor or his emotional bond with his wife or friends, but we realize how much of his manhood and confidence stems from his sexuality, and when Roman's ability to have sex is snatched away from him, he feels lost. We see things through the eyes of the man that is being cheated on, which allows the viewer to pity Roman.
A book is retrieved from the rubbish. There are also scenes where the glove box would not shut, the meaning of what this was supposed to symbolize is not clear. If anyone knows, let me know!
According to Stephen Innes: “On several occasions in the film, we see Hanka sensing Roman’s state of mind (she gives the camera several ‘iconic’ looks to indicate this). This emphasizes the spiritual nature of the relationship: there is a metaphysical connection between them that she seems privy to. This aspect of the relationship is one which only grows stronger as the film proceeds. Another way this is evident is the more prominent role of the ‘mystery character’ in this film. He was present at Roman’s car accident and, more importantly, came to his aid after his suicide attempt. For all the tragedies in this series which imply God’s absence (I, V, VI, VII), here is an example of God’s presence. This film stands as a story of grace: Roman perhaps should not have lived, but he survives (with help, if you will). And the hope we take away is Roman’s renewed sense of commitment as a result of being given a second chance.”
My least favorite of the ten Decalogue episodes.
Connected to the ninth imperative of the Ten Commandments: You shall not covet your neighbor's wife. The main plot focuses on a husband voyeuristically coveting his own wife. The narrative is about jealousy, confidence and love.
A character requesting his partner to take a lover may have inspired Lars von Trier’s Breaking the Waves. The girl who loves to sing and has a heart condition foreshadows The Double Life of Veronique (1991)
Next time, I'll look at Episode 10. Readers of this review, any thoughts on Episode 9?
Kieslowski on Kieslowski / Danusia Stok
Deciphering The Decalogue