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      A Short Film About Killing

      Released Aug 11, 1995 1 hr. 24 min. Drama List
      91% 22 Reviews Tomatometer 90% 5,000+ Ratings Audience Score Jacek (Mirosław Baka) climbs into the taxi driven by Waldemar (Jan Tesarz), tells him to drive to a remote location, then brutally strangles him, seemingly without motive. He's soon arrested and turned over to the state, with his only ally his idealist defense attorney, Piotr (Krzysztof Globisz). Defending his client, Piotr throws himself into the trial, but the outcome is never in doubt. Jacek is found guilty and sentenced to be executed, a death just as brutal as that suffered by his victim. Read More Read Less

      Audience Reviews

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      Oliver M Just amazing Never mind the great content…..the filters and camera set ups just mesmerise Timeless too So enjoyable for a film that is unenjoyable Rated 5 out of 5 stars 11/24/23 Full Review Audience Member The film captures the life of 3 man, a homeless wanderer (Jacek), taxi driver (Waldemar) and a passionate lawyer (Piotr) and how those 3 life intersect each other. To be brief, Jacek murders Waldemar and later, Piotr represent Jacek as his criminal defense lawyer. Most significantly, the film shows how the death of Jacek’s little sister took a mental toll on him which also exacerbated because she died due to his drunken friend. Subsequently, this created a soft spot in Jacek for kids. However, at the same time, this led him to violence. The release of this film provoked and resulted in the suspension of capital punishment in Poland at the time. The sorrow emotions and feelings of Jacek captured in the film transcends that of other Kieslowski’s films as well as of any other Polish film. Rated 4 out of 5 stars 04/29/22 Full Review Audience Member A Short Film About Killing opens with three successive shots: a tree shadow obfuscating almost the entire frame save for a plate festering with cockroaches, half the screen black and the other half showing a dead rat lying in a swamp, and then a similar shot with a cat hanged by its neck while children in the background laughing and playing without even deigning to notice it. Cinematographer Idziak illustrates Warsaw in filthy sepia-drenched tones and obscures the edges of his camera lens with dark filters. And with that, Kieślowski plunges us into a world in which a happy smile is met with a cynical, judgmental sneering and seen as an anomaly, daubs and morasses of mud recur as images of normalcy, and cries for help are lost in the silence of passivity. This is the world where our three characters live, with their lives more doomed than fated to intertwine. Both, the murderer, Jacek, and the victim, Waldemar, lead what are pretty much desultory lives. Jacek is presented as though he's a naughty child who obtains malicious joy at the expense of others. His acts show nothing but childish behaviour, with things similar to sticking gum at desks before leaving or indulging in silly acts of vandalism. But one can sense he does so out of misanthropic despair of human nature as well as a personal burden he carried with him through the years. Still, he seems to have just a hint of innocence as to be able to acknowledge the children around him, who are most likely foredoomed to the same fate. He also still has some memories to cling to, even though they're creased. Something that piqued my interest is how Jacek and Waldemar are, more or less, two sides of the same coin. There's just a hair between the two. The stench of their sleazy world turned Jacek into an embittered teenager whereas it left its mark on Waldemar in the sense of corroding his soul, eroding his humanity, and leaving nothing but lustful impulses and sickening cynicism. As much as the minimalistic approach Kieślowski took here to condemn the societal environment depicted the three characters as clogs in a grinding machine, what's left from Jacek's tenderness proves there's still a glimmer of hope for humanity in spite of how things wind up for him. Moreover, there's yet even more hope when we consider the character of Piotr, the lawyer who's the only one who shows sympathy towards Jacek, even if it's too late. Accordingly, it's with him that Jacek felt like a child again. If I can fault anything with A Short Film About Killing, it's that Kieślowski was blatantly manipulative in the final stretch of the film, raising as much sympathy as possible towards Jacek as he's about to meet his inexorable doom, and Zbigniew Preisner's affecting score amped up this feeling tenfold. Everything is impeccably pulled off, though, so I can partially look past that. A Short Film About Killing is grimy and brutal, and scenes detailing the murder and the execution will linger in my mind for years. Rated 4 out of 5 stars 02/07/23 Full Review william d This is one of those films where the pace is deliberately kept slow so as to stake it's claim as "artistic." In fact, it's just dull. I was hoping to learn something about Polish criminal procedure, but the film skips the trial entirely. It's basically just an anti-death penalty polemic. Rated 2 out of 5 stars 03/31/23 Full Review Audience Member Whenever Kieslowski makes a film, I will be either thrilled or deeply disturbed. This is the second category. But It's necessary to get hand in hand with this style of cinema where a compelling story is being narrated albeit making us go through the same emotions as the lead characters going through. Beautifully handcrafted cinematography, music to enhance the effect of visual story telling. Master at his best. Rated 5 out of 5 stars 02/23/23 Full Review Audience Member This review may contain spoilers. I have to admit it, the parallels between the murder and the execution only really sunk in for me when they put the bag on Jacek's head. I thought to myself, "what cowards, they can't even stand to look at person they are going to kill." And then it hit me: the fact that Jacek did it too, the fact the whole second act just reflects the first one, with the planning out of murder and the execution of the plan, it's all identical down to the very last detail. I really think everyone should watch this masterpiece. Another note: the (first) murder scene was the most haunting thing I've ever seen lately (the car horn and the emptiness of the scenery...) Rated 5 out of 5 stars 01/20/23 Full Review Read all reviews Post a rating

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      Critics Reviews

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      Paul Coates Sight & Sound Krzysztof Kieslowski's A Short Film About Killing is a work of visionary irony. Jan 16, 2020 Full Review Dave Kehr New York Daily News Devoid of sentimentality, self-satisfaction and subconscious sexiness, A Short Film about Killing has the coolness and rigor of a mathematical proof. Yet few films have cried more passionately and articulately against the cycle of human violence. Rated: 3.5/4 Apr 11, 2017 Full Review Derek Malcolm Guardian While it is almost impossible to conceive of Kieslowski making a bad film, in the Decalogue, and particularly in Killing, style and content were perfectly matched. Apr 11, 2017 Full Review John Marriott Radio Times Kieslowski, arguably Poland's greatest contemporary director, was a true master of narrative construction, and many of his thoughtful compositions linger long in the memory. Rated: 5/5 Apr 11, 2017 Full Review Ben Nicholson CineVue That is Kieslowski's underlying point; that each death is a morally repugnant as the other -- and A Short Film About Killing tackles that subject with gloomy poetry and undeniable power. Rated: 5/5 Apr 11, 2017 Full Review Film4 Brutal and disgusting, A Short Film About Killing is frequently virtually unwatchable. This is just as Kieslowski intended and it's also a unique, profound and, eventually, a humane achievement. Apr 5, 2017 Full Review Read all reviews

      Movie Info

      Synopsis Jacek (Mirosław Baka) climbs into the taxi driven by Waldemar (Jan Tesarz), tells him to drive to a remote location, then brutally strangles him, seemingly without motive. He's soon arrested and turned over to the state, with his only ally his idealist defense attorney, Piotr (Krzysztof Globisz). Defending his client, Piotr throws himself into the trial, but the outcome is never in doubt. Jacek is found guilty and sentenced to be executed, a death just as brutal as that suffered by his victim.
      Director
      Krzysztof Kieslowski
      Screenwriter
      Krzysztof Kieslowski, Krzysztof Piesiewicz
      Distributor
      Samuel Goldwyn Company
      Production Co
      Samuel Goldwyn Production
      Genre
      Drama
      Original Language
      Polish
      Release Date (Theaters)
      Aug 11, 1995, Original