Friday, September 25, 2015

Dekalog 2: "Do not Take the Name of the Lord in Vain"

A woman whose husband is dying in a hospital and a doctor debate about the future.  She wants to know what will happen so she can make a fateful choice, and he tells her that it does not look good, but he doesn’t know for certain.

The ten commandments has some controversy in it.  There are different points of view as to what the ten “words” actually are, how they are divided.  The Jewish and Protestant point of view is that the second command is to not worship idols, but the Catholic interpretation has the commandment about God’s name as the second.  The Dekalog was filmed in a mostly Catholic country, so their point prevails.

There are a number of issues that come under this command.  One is that one must not swear falsely, for God’s name is tied up in one’s word and promise.  Another has to do with being a leader or a prophet and speaking for God—to speak for God casually or without regard to what God really says is a sin.  This short film deals with both aspects of this command.

The doctor is in the place of God.  Not that he is God, but he is lofty, lonely, full of knowledge and has the utmost authority.  To hear his voice is to hear the voice of God.  The woman is in the place of humanity, the typical human.  She is stressed, torn and unable to make a fateful decision.  So she becomes destructive, sometimes without her will, sometimes with it.  She destroys what is good so that she can deal with the chaos that her life has become.   She demands to know the future, so she can have less stress and stop the path of destruction she is on. When the doctor tells the truth to the woman, that he does not know what will happen to her husband, she accuses him of sin.  This is a normal relationship between a human and God. God doesn’t tell the future, and the human is angry at God for the destruction that is caused.

Of course, most of the destruction is caused by our own hands, because of our own inner needs.  God has nothing to do with it.  We blame God, because we have to blame someone.  Someone not ourselves.

Here we go into spoiler territory, now:

But the doctor uses his authority, his voice of God, to lie to her.   He does this in order to prevent her from having an abortion.  Why?  Because he lost his children in the war, and he knows that he will ruin her life if she continues to follow the path of destruction she is on.  So he lies, he takes the voice of God and uses it for an untruth, in order to create peace for another.  Is this wrong?  Did he do wrong?  He broke the command.  But he created a bond of family that wouldn’t have been there if he had told the truth.  His arrogance, his presumption, placing himself in the throne of God… is this for the good?

It is said that the writer of fiction creates questions, not answers.  Kieslowski is good at that.

There are other details that are brought up.  The observer is in the hospital, wearing an orderly’s outfit in the dying man’s room.  But he isn’t even noticed by the wife when she goes in.  Is he seeable to the human eye?  Or is she just distracted?  The leak that is right about the dying man’s bed I have a number of questions about: Is this speaking to the condition of hospitals in general?  That they don’t really notice or care about patients?  Was the leak making him worse—it certainly prevented him from resting.  And his wife notices the water on his face.  Does she see the leak?  If so, why doesn’t she say anything about it to get it stopped, or to have her husband moved to another bed?  Is this part of the path of destruction she is on, to get her husband killed? 

Finally, the image of the bug crawling out of the dirty water to live another day.  Okay, Kieslowski says that he doesn’t have allegories, that things just happen.  Right, sure.  As if the bug doesn’t represent the man getting better on his own, crawling out of the disease, despite him receiving no help from anyone.   Sure you don’t use allegory.

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