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Kieslowski on Kieslowski Hardcover – 11 Oct 1993


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber (11 Oct. 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571167330
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571167333
  • Product Dimensions: 3.2 x 15.9 x 24.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,425,835 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"Kieslowski is frequently cryptic in his responses to journalists, refusing to respond to questions about the meaning of a particular film. But in [this] fascinating new book, he reveals a little more of himself, and while his pessimism sometimes surfaces in odd, self-deprecating ways, the artist's warmth trickles through, too . . . Throughout the book, Kieslowski's practical observations about filmmaking suggest a concern for young filmmakers, an acute mind, a somewhat sad disposition, and a profound skepticism that nevertheless cracks open in the face of art, revealing a man capable of brilliant insight and poetic vision . . . An engrossing read for film buffs, students, or anyone interested in the cultural history of Eastern Europe."--" --" "Stok has done a fine job of translating Kieslowski's Polish into idiomatic English without losing his personal tone of voice." --"Sight & Sound" --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Jason Parkes #1 HALL OF FAME on 24 Dec. 2001
Format: Paperback
This is the best book currently written on Kieslowski- surely one of the best film director's of all time? (though perhaps not as good as Bergman-Welles-Hawks-Eisenstein-Kurosawa- but time will tell!). Stok's book takes us through Kieslowski's life, from a childhood seemingly out of 'The Magic Mountain' to documentary filmmaking in Communist-occupied Poland (the story about Kieslowski's method of avoiding being in the army is hilarious!). We learn about his early life, then the foray into cinema- such as 'Camera Buff', 'Blind Chance' & 'No End' (all impossible to see in the UK- the second ripped off for the mediocre 'Sliding Doors'). We then move to his career-defining 'Dekalog' (which I first saw on BBC2 by accident) and the cinematic extensions: the short films about killing & love. We get some great anecdotes & photographs; a revealing section on 'The Double Life of Veronique' and finally, a short overview of the 'Three Colours trilogy' (which he was editing at the time of this books conception). The only flaw is the lack of material on the 'Three Colours' and the abscence of Kieslowki commenting on his intention to write films based on 'The Divine Comedy'. Much better than the good value pocket essentials; this is the book for the major fan of the late, great Kyzsztof Kieslowski.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Adam Daniel Mezei on 3 Sept. 2006
Format: Paperback
In his own words, Krzysztof Kieslowski tells you about the agony and the ecstacy of the independent filmmaking process.

The late Polish filmmaker is up to the challenge, delivering his characteristic frankness nestled within the pages of this short retrospective work, narrated in his own words, and magnificently edited (translated, too?) by Danusia Stok.

The book is tailor-made for "idie" filmmaking buffs, and supplies a glimpse into the enticingly magical personality which was Kieslowski's. Eschewing a typical rote autobiographical style, Kieslowski divulges key details about himself via the device of his extensive filmography -- revealing things about his thinking process and the high value he places upon delicate human emotionality through a step-by-step examination of his long filmography.

Spanning his early years as a prominent documentary filmmaker during the stifling years of Polish Communism and state censorship -- especially during the imposition of Marshal Law in Poland during 1980-1 when Kieslowski couldn't work for half a year -- and ending with his magnificent trilogy "Barwy" (Three Colours: Blue, White, Red), we're subjected to a feast of Kieslowski-isms regarding his thoughts pertaining to such diverse notions as:

** casting for acting talent.

** Kieslowski's penchant for making his ENTIRE crew a part of the idea-generating process for his films.

** the nature of artistic filmmaking in Europe compared to commerical filmmaking in the US.

** the demands of time on a filmmaker's personal life.

** the differing range of skills between Western and Polish filmmaking crews.
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By Keith M TOP 500 REVIEWER on 28 May 2015
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Based on interviews between the master Polish film-maker and editor/translator Danusia Stok, Kieslowski On Kieslowski comes across as something of a stream of consciousness from the man – some of the subtleties in his thinking perhaps getting 'lost in translation’ – but what the book lacks in 'professional literary polish’ it more than makes up for in an authentic passion expressed for the personal, political and artistic. Compiled just after the completion of Three Colours Blue, but before White and Red (although all three films are discussed), we get ‘accounts’ of all Kieslowski’s work, from his early documentaries through to the later fiction films, with varying degrees of analysis of the work in question (as the man has the tendency to ‘wander off’ onto related, or not so related, topics).

Unsurprisingly, what comes across is that the man’s approach to film-making has been heavily influenced by the oppressive political regimes in 60s/70s/80s Poland, giving rise to much criticism of these systems (whilst recognising that not all his fellow countrymen should be tarred with the same brush). Oddly enough, the film-maker is also of the view that the 'political control’ exerted during his Polish period still allowed for greater artistic freedom than would be the case under Hollywood’s overbearing 'capitalistic strictures’ i.e. box office at all costs. Other themes which emerge are the man’s trademark self-deprecation ('I haven’t got a great talent for films’) and his dismissive attitude to the ‘over-reading’ of his films ('A bottle of spilt milk is simply a bottle of spilt milk’). There is no denying the man’s love of cinema, though, saving his greatest praise for Tarkovsky, Bergman, Fellini and Loach’s Kes.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By jakob on 13 May 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you're interested in the creative proces of art, this is a one of the rare books that you will read several times over the years. Very inspiring, forthright, and un-pretentious, you get an insight to one of the greatest filmmakers.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 9 reviews
26 of 29 people found the following review helpful
a heartwarming portrait of the human being 16 Dec. 1999
By S. Park - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This is a well-organized and informative book. While it is based on a series of interviews, the Q&A format is not used; instead, Stok lets Kieslowski narrate in his own words various stages in his life and films he has made. The effect is that of eavesdropping on a chance monologue, or that of a very colloquial autobiography. Although Stok (I think) happens to be the wife of one of Kieslowski's main cameramen, personal sentiments do not get in the way at any point. This book also contains, in addition to the compulsory stills from his documentaries and movies, various other interesting material such as photographs that Kieslowski himself took as a student at Lodz Film School.
The portrait of Kieslowski that emerges is of an overwhelmingly modest, considerate, private, and above all *humane* human being, self-deprecating to the extreme even after his international success as a director. He dismisses his vocation as the worst job in the world, hilarious (issuing directions via microphone and speaker, freezing, to a half-clad Grazyna Szapolowska atop a makeshift tower at 2am) and insignificant(his frustrating administrative experiences as a member of the Polish filmmaking guild). However, you realize that the poignant messages that come through in his films are the result of a unique personal/private sensitivity; he tries to articulate the manner in which outside events touch the individual, and hopes to touch the individual in the audience through his work. You can't reproach him for insisting that "you will never know what is deep inside me, no one will ever know, the experience is mine alone."
The only thing I felt was missing from the book was Kieslowski's final pronouncement on the Blue/White/Red series, since the final interviews were conducted while he was still editing. Also, it does not answer every single question you have about his films - what does the hunchbacked old woman who creeps through Veronique and the Trilogy signify? What does Veronique's clear rubber ball mean? At times, I realized that Kieslowski's narrative and symbolic intentions were really much simpler than what I had imagined to be. In all, this book is not the terminus in your quest to discover the essence of Kieslowski, but provides a heartwarming, personal portrait to base further navigations on.
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
A look inside the mind of a philosopher who also made movies 7 Aug. 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
The text and quotes are so well arranged that you accept the whole as a seamless narrative. Reading this book helped take his work from enigmatic to profoundly humanistic, even optimistic. Not a minute of his film is for editing, and not a word from these interviews should be overlooked. One of my favorite reads.
20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
Kieslowski unbuttoned 4 Feb. 2001
By Scott Spires - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Possibly the last of the really great European art film directors discusses his life and work. The tone of this book was a bit of a surprise. Unlike such visionary auteurs as Bergman and Tarkovsky, Kieslowski is funny, sarcastic, and deprecating, both about himself ("I was a complete idiot") and his country ("Poles will willingly drown another Pole in a glass of water"). And the art of cinema comes across here as a somewhat ridiculous chore, with fleeting and intermittent rewards. You may spend some time puzzling over whether Kieslowski is being accurate and sincere, or just having you on.
However, there's a wealth of insight and information in this book, about KK's films, the art of cinema in general, Poland and its history, and the ideas that animated KK throughout his career. If you have yet to discover such great films as "The Decalogue", "The Double Life of Veronique", and "Blind Chance", reading this book will whet your appetite. If you already know them, you'll gain further insights. And this book is just a great read, almost like a first-person confessional novel in its style. Stories like the one about how Kieslowski feigned insanity to avoid military service make it entertaining even if you don't care about movies!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Filmmaking doesn't get any more real than this... 3 Sept. 2006
By Adam Daniel Mezei - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
In his own words, Krzysztof Kieslowski tells you about the agony and the ecstacy of the independent filmmaking process.

The late Polish filmmaker is up to the challenge, delivering his characteristic frankness nestled within the pages of this short retrospective work, narrated in his own words, and magnificently edited (translated, too?) by Danusia Stok.

The book is tailor-made for "idie" filmmaking buffs, and supplies a glimpse into the enticingly magical personality which was Kieslowski's. Eschewing a typical rote autobiographical style, Kieslowski divulges key details about himself via the device of his extensive filmography -- revealing things about his thinking process and the high value he places upon delicate human emotionality through a step-by-step examination of his long filmography.

Spanning his early years as a prominent documentary filmmaker during the stifling years of Polish Communism and state censorship -- especially during the imposition of Marshal Law in Poland during 1980-1 when Kieslowski couldn't work for half a year -- and ending with his magnificent trilogy "Barwy" (Three Colours: Blue, White, Red), we're subjected to a feast of Kieslowski-isms regarding his thoughts pertaining to such diverse notions as:

** casting for acting talent.

** Kieslowski's penchant for making his ENTIRE crew a part of the idea-generating process for his films.

** the nature of artistic filmmaking in Europe compared to commerical filmmaking in the US.

** the demands of time on a filmmaker's personal life.

** the differing range of skills between Western and Polish filmmaking crews.

A right pity Krzysztof Kieslowski is no longer with us to share to a burgeoning generation of up-and-coming filmmakers what might very well some none-too-optimistic viewpoints on the state of today's "international" filmmaking.

The book is written in Kieslowski's typical unassuming style -- par for the course from the Polish master. The late director doesn't bowl you over with how much he knows about film history, or about the complicated craft of filmmaking. Kieslowski doesn't tell you that he's better than you or me. Rather, through a detailed accounting of his past achievements, Kieslowski's emphasis is always upon that which is most human: the wellspring of all his works, and the central reason why filmmakers must indeed make films, in his esteemed opinion.

Still, I found the book ended suddenly.

Not shockingly so, just that the work might have gone on for much longer than its seemingly scant 227 pages. There's so much to know about this magnificent paragon of the film community, and if anything, it will be a primer for further reading on the man, the legend, and his favourite subject: films.

Five-stars.

-- ADM in Prague
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
All you ever wanted to know about the man and the director 15 Aug. 2006
By Hana Gomoláková (translator, interpreter) - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Reading the book was like watching another wonderful Kieslowski film. His casual authentic narrative throughout the book gives it a touch of a documentary almost.

I appreciated every page of his life story, as he tells it so that his personal story as a director - from his childhood through filmschool, his first films right to the Three Colours trilogy - is combined with the situation in Poland, with the Communist times, the censorship, the hopes and the fights with the system, the fears, the communication with the public through hidden messages, and the victories when succeeding to outsmart the censors.

All wrapped up in one, sprinkled with wit and natural story-telling style, the book is all you ever wanted to know about Kieslowski and the background of his life and filmmaking.

In the interviews throughout the book, he not only talks about the films, he also explains why he had to do them the way he did - both, the story and the style - about his personal beliefs, about his life and work in the Communist Poland (in which I could see similarities with the former Czechoslovakia, where I was born, as well), and about how it shaped his views.

Real reading pleasure, educational and entertaining, this book is one of the best I have read lately! And, I believe it gives another dimension in understanding of his films as well.
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