Review: ‘Double Lives, Second Chances: The Cinema of Krsysztof Kieslowski’

The late Polish film master behind such epic works as "The Decalogue" and "Three Colors: Blue, White, Red" managed to inspire fans of European cinema first with his stark, documentary-like portraits of spiritual angst amid totalitarian control, then with his more lush, foreign-financed studies of transcendence in conflict with consumerism, freedom and modern technology.

The late Polish film master behind such epic works as “The Decalogue” and “Three Colors: Blue, White, Red” managed to inspire fans of European cinema first with his stark, documentary-like portraits of spiritual angst amid totalitarian control, then with his more lush, foreign-financed studies of transcendence in conflict with consumerism, freedom and modern technology.

Kieslowski lost many devout fans after “The Decalogue,” not unlike the desertion by Bob Dylan fans when the singer-songwriter dared to plug in his acoustic guitar. Insdorf stayed with the filmmaker’s quest, deftly noting that early Kieslowski pics contained “no easy villains” despite the ample opportunities afforded by Poland’s communist bosses. She succinctly describes the triumph of “Red”: “Before Kieslowski rescues his characters from the ferry accident, they rescue themselves.”

And there’s no puncturing of a Kieslowski cult in her properly noted appreciation of the key contributions of his collaborators, especially screenwriter Krzysztof Piesiewicz and composer Zbigniew Preisner.

Double Lives, Second Chances: The Cinema of Krsysztof Kieslowski

Production

BY ANNETTE INSDORF (TALK MIRAMAX/HYPERION; 220 PGS.; $ 24.95) One of America's rare film academics who can write about cinema without professorial airs getting in the way, Annette Insdorf takes Krzysztof Kieslowski --- a complex, often perplexing subject --- and makes him accessible without turning him warm and fuzzy or iconic.
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