This film is a brutal portrayal of a brutal subject, asking fundamental questions. A dejected, impoverished Polish youth commits a drawn-out, shocking murder for no real reason. His young liberal lawyer trys to defend and befriend him, with little success on either count, with a demoralising effect on his life. Moreover, to his horror, he also has to attend his client's execution by hanging, which is no less brutal or shocking than the preceding murder. In fact, the indignities of the procedure and the petty officialdom, will make any pro-capital punishment supporter reconsider. All this is incredibly well filmed (in stark, grim B&W) by the master of modern film direction and the general hopelessness is portrayed with good, believable acting. More active and provoking than some of the more contemplative works in Kieslwski's oevre and similar art-house genre pieces. To think, it started out as a Polish TV piece - miles away from your average British TV film spin-off!