SAWA Department Store
Wars, Sawa, and Junior are Poland’s oldest department store. Built in the late 1960s, they were a shopping mecca for Varsovians and residents of other Polish cities throughout the communist era.
The shopping scene in episode six offers a glimpse of life in 1980s Poland that is unlike most of the imagery encountered in The Decalogue, which mainly depicts the characters in the home and at work. A significant feature of the series, and a deliberate choice on the part of the screenwriters, is its lack of references to the political situation in Poland and its limited portrayal of the quotidian aspects of everyday life. The use of this creative technique casts the film’s universal and existential message into sharper relief. Each episode nevertheless contains numerous details that give the audience a picture of daily life in the People’s Republic of Poland in the mid 1980s. In Decalogue Six, we see a milkman making his rounds in an apartment building, delivering fresh bottles and collecting empties from his customers’ doorsteps, and a rude, shrill postal employee, in a scene that aptly depicts the relationship between civil servants and the public at the time. These details provide a backdrop for the personal choices and tragedies that are the subject of the ten films. Kieślowski placed this cinematic background in the foreground of his 1988 documentary film Seven Days a Week, which depicts the daily life of a six-person multi-generation family inhabiting a cramped apartment in a country where shoppers have to queue for hours, food and gasoline are rationed, and full-time workers are forced to take side jobs to make ends meet. The film has been described as a documentary appendix to The Decalogue.