'A Motive, Not A Judgment': Reflections on Kieslowski’s Invitation to Think About Morality

41 Pages Posted: 28 May 2020

Date Written: April 30, 2020

Abstract

Krysztof Kieslowski’s classic “Decalogue: The Ten Commandments – Ten Short Films About Morality” invites viewers to reflect upon what morality is: Propositions about what worthy actions or decisions are? Unintelligible without support from a deity? The choices – all the choices – one makes while going through everyday life? One of Kieslowski’s characters suggests that motives explain but don’t justify actions, and that all we can do is understand why people act as they do. A character in another Kieslowski film concludes that judging others’ actions lacks humility. The ten films, originally made for Polish television in the late 1980s, present morality through complex narratives that deny us the choice of reducing morality to propositions. In the end, though, the films might better support the thought that narrative is morality. In the course of leading up to this conclusion, this Article examines Kieslowski’s presentation of female characters and the intimations the films contain about his views about religion and its relation to the idea of narrative as morality.

Keywords: law and film, Kieslowski, Decalogue

Suggested Citation

Tushnet, Mark V., 'A Motive, Not A Judgment': Reflections on Kieslowski’s Invitation to Think About Morality (April 30, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3589807 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3589807

Mark V. Tushnet (Contact Author)

Harvard Law School ( email )

1575 Massachusetts
Hauser 406
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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