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No End [DVD]
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40 of 42 people found the following review helpful
#1 HALL OF FAMEon 29 November 2003
No End is probably the best of the current crop of Kieslowki films issued on DVD- his Polish works (excepting the Dekalog)having been sadly unavailable in this country. While The Dekalog and the Three Colours trilogy found Kieslowski a deserved audience, films like No End have all but vanished- now people will get the chance to see this film, which is very much a year zero in Kieslowski's career. Kieslowski had attempted to make a documentary on the justice system in Poland, filming various cases in courts- sadly he found that the presence of his camera created a deliberate leiniency from the judge. During the making of this failed documentary, Kieslowski began an union with lawyer Krzysztof Piesiewicz- one that would create a writing partnership that would run from No End (1994) to last year's Heaven (2002) (Heaven being the sole posthumous script from Kieslowski/Piesiewicz following Kieslowski's untimely death in 1996).
Grazyna Szapolowska, familiar to those who've seen A Short Film About Love/Dekalog VI, plays a widow of a young lawyer- who appears as a ghost (it's amazing how many popular films seem to borrow from Kieslowski works, e.g. Sliding Doors, Ghost, Monster's Ball, Run Lola Run). The story shifts between a worker accused of being an activist (who was to be represented by the young lawyer)and how his life is changed as a result and the widow- who in grief realises she loved her husband very much (recalling Julianne Moore in Magnolia). The film ends by shifting to a metaphysical element, a kind of reverse of the metaphysical journey found in Wings of Desire (1987) and mirroring that journey found in the recent European film on teen prostitution in Eastern Europe, . No End shifts to "another world, a better world"- a paradise where the husband & wife are reunited following her suicide.
No End is the beginning of the latter part of Kieslowksi's career, existential motifs and metaphysical quandaries counter the previous subject of politics that Kieslowski began to reject. The world of No End is one that is corrupt and empty- a bleak film but one that is rewarding and a welcome issue on DVD.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 28 October 2013
Some people will have watched the 3 colours trilogy and will wonder if this is worth getting and how it compares. Without giving the plot away, i would say it is more obviously dated and less of a complete, polished article than 3 colours blue, which it most resembles in storyline, except with a dead lawyer husband instead of a dead composer husband.Grief and the enforced continuation of life for the wife left behind are the overriding emotions, but it is less raw here than in '3 colours Blue' because of the interwoven sub-story of an imprisoned striker that the lawyer was in the process of defending when he died. Kieslowski doesn't appear to be at the stage where he could just follow the woman and drop the social message, and now it seems the movie is somewhat compromised by this inability or choice.
Where the film is truly beautiful is in the performance of Grazyna Szapolowska, who was also the lead in "A short film about love," which is far superior to this film, and in fact is almost the perfect Kieslowski film.She is the shining light of this movie and if only Kieslowski had put more into her story and less into the sub-plot,this would have been a much better film.However, at the time Poland was oppressed and fighting for its life and its identity and as a passionate creative man, Kieslowski had a need and a right to express his feelings in his films.I'm just judging it from the distance of time and from a different country with a different history.For those who have only seen the 3 colours trilogy, i would rate 'the double life of veronique' and 'a short film about love'(the full movie version)as being the best 2 films to see next, followed by this one.
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31 of 34 people found the following review helpful
on 9 July 2005
The candlelit graveyard flows into the panorama of city lights, the dead now mere pinpricks of light in the passing of time. We observe the mundane artefacts of family life, the routines which still go on though this family's lifestyle has been fractured by the death, a few days ago, of the husband. His ghost watches on, unable to leave, unable to believe in the pain of separation.
Wife and son struggle to cope, to establish their own routines, their own method of coping. They can believe in the pain, they just have to find ways to suppress it. Routines. Keep busy. She has to tidy up her husband's affairs - he was a lawyer, one who had been involved in political cases. This is a Poland about to break out of the stranglehold of Soviet domination, a Poland beginning to assert its own independence and affirm its own political dissonance. Law is political; politics is embodied in law.
The wife has to make decisions about a case her husband had been handling. Can she become involved? Should she trust this political case to an old colleague? And her life goes on, troubled now by the arrival of an old suitor. She is still a very desirable woman, an intelligent woman, an educated woman, a woman with a future, not least in her son. And yet the past haunts and claws at her. She realises how much she loved her husband, how much it hurts to lose him.
And this is a Poland with a future, a Poland which might only find consummation of the future in rediscovering the values of its past and throwing off the cloak of bereavement and widows weeds in which it is shrouded. And this is a legal system which has values, which can argue and assess, not simply process.
A beautifully worked piece, emotional, forthright, intense. Kieslowski's world, here, has none of the glamour of the 'Three Colours'. This is a plain, bland world, where decisions have to be made, and where the oppression of the little decisions can be as significant as the political and legal denial of the right to make decisions or follow conscience. This is an absorbing narrative into which you are drawn and with which you can sympathise - a film you can watch again and again and absorb different nuances.
The DVD is excellent, with highly informative interviews and the bonus of a Kieslowski documentary. Excellent value.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 28 July 2014
This 1984 film was the first on which director Krzysztof Kieslowski collaborated with screenwriter Krzysztof Piesiewicz and composer Zbigniew Preisner and although (for me) No End does not quite reach the heights the trio were to achieve in their later works (in particular Dekalog and The Three Colours Trilogy) there is still much to admire here. And, although No End (being set in 1982) can be viewed as dealing more directly with Poland's political situation as martial law was about to come to an end, once again Kieslowski subtly interweaves the film's politics into a tale of human love and loss, along the way making points around the balance between (political) acquiescence and resistance and his take on how attitudes have been shaped in his home country.

Anyone familiar with Dekalog should immediately recognise Kieslowski's main two protagonists here - Graznya Szapolowska's translator, Ulla, grieving for her recently deceased lawyer husband, Jerzy Radziwilowicz's Antek and the dour, resigned visage of Aleksander Bardini's 'elderly' lawyer (previously Antek's mentor), Labrador, who is persuaded by Ulla to take on one 'final' case (political, this time) to attempt to secure the release of `'political activist' Artur Barciae's (the all-pervading presence in Dekalog) uncompromising idealist, Darek, whose case has been brought to Ulla by his wife Maria Pakulnis' Joanna. Of course, Kieslowski is one of cinema's most brilliant depicters of on-screen grief (Irene Jacob and Juliette Binoche delivering magnificent performances for him, elsewhere) and, here, Szapolowska is particularly good in all her confusion, suspicions and increasing desperation. Aleksander Bardini is also typically impressive as the world-weary cynic, coming to the end of his career, but (as an 'old-stager' in typical Polish fashion?) urging compromise on Darek, as against the younger Miecio's (Michal Bajor) impetuous idealism.

Kieslowski's near-unique eye for cinematic detail also shows itself in embryonic fashion here, whether it be the repeating visual motifs of the ghostly re-appearing Antek, the all-pervading and mysterious presence of a black labrador dog or the director's (future) obsession with drinking glasses (being dropped or 'played' here). No End is also topped and tailed with two stunning sequences, each accompanied by Preisner's mesmerising recurring theme music.

Another recurring theme is the crossover point of politics and religion and it is notable that after No End, Kieslowski 'ditched' the more explicitly political content in his films ('I steer clear of politics', as Labrador says here) - this change being a specific objective of his follow-up work, Dekalog, as well as being carried through into his later masterpieces.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
A film not seen outside Poland until 1986 because of its pro-Solidarity stance. Coming out of the dead end of a materialist-determinist culture as in the Poland of 1982 under martial law,this film uses the ghost of a young lawyer,Antek(Radziwilowicz )explaining he is already dead,and who oversees proceedings.We are in the realm of metaphysics:the spiritual and hypnotism figure,the Pope isPolish. Antek affects the living world in small ways,the family dog is aware of his presence. Antek's wife,Urszula(Ulla)[Szapolowska], tries to overcome her grief and wants to help one of Antek's former clients, Darek,-a worker accused of being an opposition activist-who will now be defended by Labrador(Bardini),one of Antek's colleagues-an older experienced lawyer.

Social political obligations balance Ulla's private grief,the film's politics and glimpses into daily life under martial law are equally as involving as thepersonal drama.Unable to affect change under martial law the average person possessing a clear conscience is reduced to being a ghost,hence the exploration of thespiritual and the private realm of feelings of Ulla(and Kieslowski).Coming at the end of a series of short films and documentaries from 1970,Kieslowski made features like Camera Buff,Blind Chance and No End in the late 70s and early 80s.Prior to the Dekalog most of his work was openly political,but with this film and the Dekalog series,he pushes poverty,political struggle and bureaucracy into the background,focusing instead on emotional,ethical and psychological dilemmas common to any modern Western society.Kieslowski shows a growing command of interior representation,Ulla's reflective moments,odd visual details-a clenching hand,the rubbing of toes.Everyday reality is no longer enough,it's the exploration of what lies beyond that,how people are connected,and where they might end up.This is the 1st of Kieslowski's screenwriting collaborations with former lawyer Piesiewiicz. Though watched over by Antek,Ulla is attempting through sex and hypnotism to murder her overwrought memories,while raising her son.

Antek watches as the client,charged with organising a political strike,is defended by the veteran lawyer who knows as he did not,how to compromise.For the prisoner freedom means standing up for your beliefs,freedom of speech is more important than prison.The film is about bereavement as well as politics,a kind of ghoststory as well,with Kieslowski triumphant,because of the passion of his commitment toboth major themes and the leading two actors' interpretation.The ghost story works due to the real understanding of what it is like to lose someone you love. Kieslowski creates in No End a moment of mourning for both Ulla and a nation disenchanted with its present and future possibilities.There is a beautiful balance of colour and tone in the picture quality. The final, bittersweet image depicts the two of them walking together through an indigo twilight.Kieslowski's future creative team was composer Zbigniew Preisner, whose deliberate and haunting melody for No End would surface again as the central theme in Blue,with its Pauline hymn to the power and necessity of love.A master then of contemporary world cinema.
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