Posts Tagged ‘human nature’

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Dekalog 9

Love and marriage go together like a carriage. Oh yes we all have heard that. But impotence is like a carriage with a stuck wheel. Of course it is a medical condition, which needs fixing. Marriage itself is so fraught with partners falling out of love and compatibility put to jeopardy by so many reasons that need not have anything to do with the body. So how should the problem of impotence be treated viz-a-viz with love? Dekalog 9 unearths several uncomfortable truths. Roman (Piotr Machalica) is a heart surgeon and discovers the horrible truth; he is impotent. One suggestion is that he divorce his beautiful young wife Hanka (Ewa Blaszczyk) and starts his life alone. But his love for her is too deep for that. Hanka is very understanding, accepting just how difficult it’s going to be to come to terms with this problem. She even resents when Roman comes up with plan B. He intimates that she should take a lover.

The irony is that Hanka already has a boyfriend, Mariusz (Jan Jankowski), whom she meets in her mother’s flat. Her sessions are purely on physical level. The only danger is that Roman could discover what’s going on which is what Roman sets out to do. He doubts that there is something strange and his suspicion takes possession of him after he discovers Mariusz’s notebook in the car. Jealousy and not love is that consumes him. Underlying this is that unreasonable demand that she pitches her all in his favor since he is disadvantaged. We can only say, Physician heal thyself!

Dekalog 10

‘Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s goods’

This episode will bring comparison with “American Buffalo.” Decalog deals not with numismatics but with philately. Both have to do with rare collectibles for which collectors will pay huge sums. Thus the commandment is all about greed.
Two brothers are going through the apartment of their father who has just died. They hardly knew him and they stumble upon a very valuable collection. Their father was a major league player in the world of philately. Various others are eager to swindle them, including a prosperous smooth talking dealer (Henryk Bista), whom the brothers attempt to outsmart. The bothers trust each other to a point but introduce greed as a third element anything can go wrong. This is a dark comedy.
Technically and as essays into depths of human nature with particular relevance Warsaw, Kieslowski’s dekalog stands testimony to a major talent that was regrettably cut off by his early death in 1996 at the age of 54. Polish cinema truly lost one of the best filmmakers.
“Dekalog” was set in Warsaw at the end of communist rule, though the ten one-hour movies made for state-owned Polish television. Director/writer Krzysztof Kieslowski once remarked  that he did not accept martial law in Poland but had to live with it.
“I don’t have any goals. I’m not going to change anything through movies.”

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History repeats Itself more or less. Why? Because those who are the players at any given time and place have forgotten to learn from what went before. In those who set out to add new territories for the crown  only profit, power, prestige and the present mattered. The victors were  those who cut and ran. What of the losers then? The losers always imitate their oppressors.
Take Africa for example. From the brutalities that are reported in Kenya, Rwanda, Sierra Leone and other places what are we to make of?

Belgian Barbarism
The Belgians ruled the Congo with a brutal hand. A missionary, Edward Sjoblom, arrived in the Congo in 1892 and wrote of his experiences. He was travelling by steamship to choose a suitable location for a mission station. On his very first day, he witnessed a flogging with a hippo hide whip. The white men on board all agreed that “only the whip can civilise the black.”

A missionary, E J Glave, wrote in his diary that the natives must be treated “with the utmost severity… they cannot be handled by coaxing but must be ruled by force.” In 1895, Glave returned to the Congo and came across scenes of revolting brutality. Here is an example:
“The chicotte (whip) of raw hippo hide, trimmed like a corkscrew and with edges like knife blades is a terrible weapon. A few blows bring our blood. We persuade ourselves that an African’s skin is very tough. At the first blow, the victim yells horribly; then quietens down into a groaning. After 25 or 30 blows, the victim loses his senses. This punishment is far worse when inflicted on women and children. Small boys of 10 or 12 working for hot tempered masters are often most harshly treated.”
In the past: a Belgian who holds a whip thinks he is civilized enough to use it. He does it for his king and his country. Now we see more or less a similar mindset in an American neocon. Can precision bombing usher in democracy to Iraq?

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