Friday, January 19, 2007

The Decalogue a "midrashically" constructed film series

Midrash and Modernity: Art After the Holocaust (Monica Osborne, Tikkun, 26/12/06)

Midrashic on many levels, The Decalogue responds to those who view the commandments as sharply delineated moral proscriptions, and collapses them into one ethical imperative: Love your neighbor. The film forces the viewer to re-think the commandments in ethical terms rather than with the historical tendency to insist on literal interpretations. For instance, devotion to “the law” can lead to greater ethical transgressions. Kieslowski is reading the Ten Commandments midrashically by questioning their meaning and significance, identifying their gaps and ambiguities, and responding to them with contemporary narratives that extend—rather than re-write—the original premise and promise of the commandments.


I have to admit that while I understand more or less what Osborne's trying to say in the article, I am not sure I understand what the concept "contemporary midrash" means.


  1. Hello -- found this blog by doing a blog search for Kieslowski! This notion of midrash is a very new one, particularly as it is applied to contemporary texts (film, fiction, etc). It means that the text is constructed as a response to some kind of gap, silence, or void. In the case of the DEKALOG it is midrashic because it tries to fill this gap with a new rendering of an "old" idea. Kieslowski, in this film series, is responding to an ethical void of sorts.

  2. thanks monica. with your clarification in mind, i would re-read your article and see whether i can get more out of it.