Faith, Doubt, and Chiasmus in Krzysztof Kieslowski’s Decalogue I

  • Author(s): William Bartley
  • When: 2014-10
  • Where: Journal of Religion & Film
  • This article proposes a reinterpretation of Krzysztof Kieslowski’s exploration of the first commandment in Decalogue I. It argues that the narrative structure of the story is chiastic—i.e., inversely parallel—which follows from recognizing for the first time the crucial role that Irena, the devoutly Catholic sister of Krzysztof, a professor and religious skeptic, plays in the story. The pattern of inverse parallelism (chiasmus) emerges as Krzysztof and Irena respond separately to the tragic death of Krzysztof’s son, Pawel: as Krzysztof’s skepticism gives way to a new faith in God, inversely and unexpectedly Irena’s faith retreats into doubt. This outcome, in turn, opens up the complex relationship between faith and doubt, which is at the heart of Kieslowski’s status as a “secular theist.”

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