The late Polish filmmaker Krzysztof Kieslowski was an artist of sublime gift and burning conscience. His peerless series of meditations on the Ten Commandments, The Decalogue, will endure for as long as we remember movies; the sum of his work is as compelling as that of any director of the twentieth century.
An intriguing (if frustratingly incomplete) sampling of the Kieslowski canon opens Saturday, October 30, at the Chez Artiste Theatre with an 11 a.m. screening of The Big Animal (2000), which was written by Kieslowski (way back in 1973) and directed by his countryman and best friend, Jerzy Stuhr. This sly comic fable, considered one of Kieslowski's minor works, concerns the sudden appearance in a Polish village of a docile and dirty camel, probably left behind by a circus, and the shifting reactions of the villagers to the exotic creature in their midst. Whimsical and bittersweet, the film delivers more than its surface indicates -- including the glorious possibility that its makers are in the business of political satire. The film repeats on Sunday, October 31.
The Kieslowski retrospective continues next month with morning showings of his justly famous "Three Colors Trilogy," originally released in 1993 and 1994. The three films, French-Polish co-productions, are named for the shades of the French tri-color, and each addresses the Gallic ideal each color is said to represent: liberty, fraternity and equality. In Blue (November 6-7) , a cool Juliette Binoche grapples with the loss of her family in an automobile accident, and with the specter of infidelity; White (November 13-14) is, on its surface, a Chaplinesque comedy about a Polish hairdresser's failed marriage; Red (November 20-21) is a mystical tale of chance encounters and personal secrets starring the beautiful Irene Jacob and the timeless French star Jean-Louis Trintignant (as an embittered, lonely judge). Each film is a journey of the heart suffused with Kieslowski's commanding spirituality.
The Chez Artiste is at 4150 East Amherst Avenue, just east of Colorado Boulevard; for information, call 303-757-7164.