Missing from the Log

Speaking of Dekalog, where’s our 21st century Dekalog??

In an entertainment age defined by the seemingly uncurbed proliferation of endless (but not endlessly) streaming content, you would think that every idea ever committed to the boob tube has reared its head again in this era. While plenty of top-tier directors like Dekalog’s Krzysztof Kieslowski have jumped the theatrical ship in search of the minuscule creative oversight and massive coffers — unattached to opening weekend box office receipts and/or Oscars prospects — afforded by the small screen to mid-sized adult dramas Hollywood has mostly abandoned, to my knowledge, none have followed Dekalog‘s model, despite how much more transferrable their filmmaking skills would probably be to its format.

Normally, these auteurs lend their talents to either long-form episodic narrative series, or limited miniseries; Dekalog can be considered the latter, with a crucial difference. Modern-day miniseries tend to be 10ish-hour continuous narratives; while Dekalog‘s brand of non-narrative anthology — comprised of standalone but related “short film” episodes, with characters rarely appearing in more than one — do exist (hey, Black Mirror), usually different directors helm each one. While this diversity has its obvious advantages, how has another director not called Kieslowski’s shot by also mounting each and every anthology episode themself??

Silver screen directors weaned on two-ish-hour stories often have difficulty expanding their canvass by multiple hours, to the point where, if I’m going to spend so long in one world, I’d personally prefer — and yes, this is merely a personal preference, not a declarative statement as to their objective quality — to use that time reading books by authors trained to tell such large-scale narratives. On the flip side, when it comes to anthologies of one-hour short films by a myriad of directors, I’d prefer to watch a feature-length work in a theater.

Dekalog, however, resides in a cushy middle ground. Kieslowski stays in his comfort zone of shorter stories, all while getting the macro-opportunity to paint a tableau bigger than the temporally-finite big screen provides. It’s like his own extended universe — similar to the ones auteurs craft over their careers — but one connected not by dictates of plot, but by theme and shared/juxtaposed experience/artistry/aesthetic.

So where’s my 21st century Dekalog green light???

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