Taxi Stand Next to the European Hotel

Decalogue Five
The taxi stand in Decalogue Five is a liminal realm, a vestibule of hell. As he enters the taxi, Jacek (Mirosław Baka), the main character, takes the final step that precipitates his victim’s tragic death—and, later, his own untimely demise. The oblivious taxi driver’s vehicle becomes his death cell, while landing his killer in a different form of confinement: prison. The execution scene was shot in a Warsaw film studio, after prison officials refused to grant the filmmaker permission to stage it an actual death chamber. The set designers nevertheless succeeded in faithfully recreating the execution cell, and the scene was filmed with such horrifying authenticity (Mirosław Baka actually began to choke when the noose was tightened around Jacek’s neck) that the tension eventually took its toll on the crew and Kieślowski was forced to interrupt the shoot, resuming the next day. The feature-film version of this episode, A Short Film About Killing, was released in Polish theaters in March 1988. The movie became a significant and powerful voice in the campaign to abolish capital punishment. One month later, Poland carried out its last death sentence. On November 26, 1988, Kieślowski’s movie received the Felix Award for Best Film from the European Film Academy. In his acceptance speech, the director said the now-famous words: “I hope Poland is in Europe.”

Mikołaj Jazdon
Dekalog V, str. 1

Dekalog, pięć, str. 1

Dekalog V, str. 2

Dekalog, pięć, str. 2

Decalogue Five