As I was not fully quenched by Kickasola, I read the user comments on IMDB, a few other critics and blog posts. Here are a few things that I found interesting.

Roger Ebert:
Roger Ebert is no Kickasola but I found a few things interesting in his critique of the movie. It starts with the sentence “Here is a film about a feeling.” Then he talks about Kieślowski’s style as below.

“He is drawn to coincidence and synchronicity. He is little interested in focusing on a character hurling from point A in the first act to Point C in the third. He is fascinated by Point B, and the unseen threads linking it to past and present. His films can be mystical experiences. He trusts us to follow him, to sense his purpose, to leave the theater having shared his openness to a moment. The last thing you want to do after a Kieślowski film is “unravel” the plot. It can’t be done.”

Slavoj Žižek:
For the few of us who cannot sleep unless we unravel the message, I found that this small snippet almost paraphrases it. It’s an excerpt from an essay titled “The Forced Choice of Freedom” written by Žižek.

“The perception of our reality as one of the possible, often even not the most probable, outcomes of an open situation, this notion that other possible outcomes are not simply canceled out but continue to haunt our reality as a specter of what might have happened, conferring on our reality the status of extreme fragility and contingency, implicitly clashes with the predominant linear narrative forms of our literature and cinema.”

Joseph G. Kickasola
I am pretty sure this guy was stalking Kieślowski. I am absolutely stunned by both by the quantity and quality of nuanced observations and interpretations he provides us. He situates his interpretation based on the author’s previous works (references to The Decalogue), life (French and Polish politics), lifeworld (Kieślowski’s attitude towards old people) and through his own judgements as well. This, we all agree, is by no means a simple task and Kickasola has done a kick-ass job. (Sorry couldn’t resist it!)

And here is where I start whining. I have one huge issue with this article. He beautifully states of what I think is the paradigmatic glasses we need to be wearing while watching Kieślowski’s movies.

“… the essence of the film hinges on the experience of watching it, not simply on an understanding of its story, characters, and use of metaphor.”

After stating this, he does exactly the opposite – explains the story and provides rationalistic explanations to the characters’ traits by contextualizing them with respect to the metaphors and motifs of religion, spirituality, politics and philosophy. It does help us understand the movie better but aren’t Kieślowski’s movies meant to evoke? Does one need to have a rational understanding to “feel” it better? If Kickasola is trying to do that, then he is essentially at logger heads with Kieślowski.

Kickasola paraphrases Kieślowski’s attitude towards this by saying
“This type of abstract, nonverbal “rhetoric” can be very persuasive…”

In other words, to me it feels like Kickasola attempts to help us understand a movie that the director did not want us to understand in the first place.

All said and done, I do not deny the fact that knowing about the director’s life, his works, his beliefs, the metaphors and motifs used in the movie and Kickasola’s interpretation of them have definitely enriched me to understand the movie. But the answer to the question whether it has helped me to feel it better is NOT a big resounding yes!

PS: I wonder how Pauline Kael would have critiqued this movie!

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