A Short Film About Killing


A Short Film About Killing

Critics Consensus

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Total Count: 21


Audience Score

User Ratings: 5,730
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Movie Info

This disturbing and violent feature opens with a scene of a dead rat and a lifeless cat hanging by the neck. As the plot unfolds, Yatzek (Miroslaw Baka) is a 20-year-old drifter who murders a testy taxi driver (Jan Tesarz) in a gut-wrenching scene of excessive violence. Tension continues to build as a newly licensed young attorney (Krzysztof Globisz is chosen to represent Yatzek in court. Much anticipated and well-received at Cannes, the film won the European Film Academy Award for "Best European Film" in 1988.


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Critic Reviews for A Short Film About Killing

All Critics (21) | Top Critics (7)

  • Devoid of sentimentality, self-satisfaction and subconscious sexiness, A Short Film about Killing has the coolness and rigor of a mathematical proof. Yet few films have cried more passionately and articulately against the cycle of human violence.

    Apr 11, 2017 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…
  • While it is almost impossible to conceive of Kieslowski making a bad film, in the Decalogue, and particularly in Killing, style and content were perfectly matched.

    Apr 11, 2017 | Full Review…

    Derek Malcolm

    Top Critic
  • Probably the most powerful movie about the death penalty ever made.

    Apr 5, 2017 | Full Review…
  • A Short Film About Killing is as grim as a motion picture gets, but the intelligence and insight applied to its themes will keep the viewer riveted despite the pervasive gloom.

    Jun 10, 2008 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…
  • The depiction of violence is far removed from the usual camera choreography, and is, in consequence, truly appalling.

    Oct 28, 2006 | Full Review…

    Tony Rayns

    Time Out
    Top Critic
  • The film forces the audience to confront the most vile aspects of life, without offering enough intellectual substance to justify sitting through such brutality.

    Aug 30, 2004 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for A Short Film About Killing

  • Oct 03, 2015
    Not as short or as about killing as you might believe. I suppose "A regularly-timed film about a political point of view" didn't have the same ring. Still, it's poignant.
    Gimly M Super Reviewer
  • Aug 12, 2013
    <i>"Thou shalt not kill."</i> A dark look at the human's psyche, <i>A Short Film About Killing</i> unleashes a debate on how moral is relative from the personal perspective of whoever handles it given any situation. Despite some random emotional fillers that distract the viewer from the original intentions of the film, Kieslowski accomplishes a disturbing sepia tone for highlighting relevant issues, among which are: - The contradiction of a death sentence as a condemnation of murder. - The events that are behind the curtain of each individual: his personal life background that we do not see. - The implications of standardizing human actions and restricting them to what has been accepted as an agreeable consensus. It is easy to point the finger towards what you condemn, but remember that when you point with your index finger, there are three other fingers pointing at you. Silence is the wisest judge. Remember that our nature is flawed and dual, but complex too. In that sense, I also think that the intentionally darkened corners in the film plays a role. Notice several things about it: - It only appears when the main characters are on screen, but not during the landscapes or neutral events. - 90% of the times, the killer walks towards the dark corner, whereas the sentence executioners walk to it around 50% of the times (mmhh...), and the lawyer usually walks towards the bright side. Maybe an invitation from the Polish auteur to form our own opinions? Great idea; I'll accept that invitation and construct my criticisms. 85/100
    Edgar C Super Reviewer
  • Sep 11, 2012
    While not sufficiently short, I did get its sense of killing (in terms of length as well as its content). Its graphic violent scenes are said to be highly effective. While not shocking, they're boring enough to end up as an avoidable drag (if it's the same movie I watched). Apparently, I'm at loss for my shortsightedness to savor this acclaimed masterpiece. All the same, I did find it engaging in parts, and appreciate its uncomplicated storyline. If only it was equally interesting..... Hope you face no problems enjoying it to its fullest.
    familiar s Super Reviewer
  • Mar 01, 2011
    Grim, uncompromising, opaque: these are the first words that come to mind when viewing Kieslowski's "A Short Film About Killing." One of two full length films to emerge from his famous "Decalogue", this film focuses on the dark side of human nature. No attempt is made to balance the scales with any glimmer of hope and Kieslowski is relentless in achieving his goal. The film is about 3 polish men and how their fates are intertwined. The murders, one the cause of spontaneous violent desire and the other a calculated act of the state, are both agonizing to watch. The audience is given no heroes to root for or villains to wish ill upon. Instead, Kieslowski wishes to show the senselessness of these acts and that killing perpetuates killing. While the films subject matter wades heavily in the macabre, the images themselves are rendered in a way that makes the image very dark and foreboding. There are no brilliant or bright colors here and some of the characters appear to be surrounded by an encroaching circle of darkness. In one of the murder scenes, the screen almost goes to black when killer realizes his victim is actually dead.
    Reid V Super Reviewer

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