NBC is Remaking Kieslowski’s The Decalogue

By  · Published on February 17th, 2015


The US may be in a new golden age of television, but the rest of the world has had a long history of quality, auteurist works on the small screen, and I’m often reminded of classic TV productions by Bergman, Fassbinder, von Trier and Krzysztof Kieslowski whenever something like True Detective or The Knick or the upcoming Wachowskis series Sense8 comes around. Now the connection should become clearer to the rest of Americans, as Kieslowski’s The Decalogue is being remade as an English-language, Boston-set miniseries for NBC.

Deadline reports that the network is teaming with Entertainment One for a re-imagining of the 1989 Polish production. Presumably there will still be ten parts, not just because of the title but because the original series episodes are each assigned to one of the Ten Commandments. Basically it’s an anthology of shorts, as they’re not connected to each other, besides in concept. I’d maybe relate the idea now to the British series Black Mirror, and I actually wonder if there’s an interest from TV programmers presently to mimic that episodic short-film-collection type of structure.

I also wonder how much of NBC’s version will carry over from the original, which was co-written by Krzysztof Piesiewicz, given the term “re-imagining.” Couldn’t Todd Ellis Kessler (The Good Wife), who is writing and producing the remake, just come up with his own 10-part miniseries based on the Ten Commandments without the connection? Are they aiming for the prestige in crediting Kieslowski? I guess that at least helps it not being associated with the less-popular movie The Ten, which does something similar, albeit comedically and within the confines of a 90-minute feature.

Finally, I wonder what other classic foreign miniseries could be next, in order for the lazier and safer producers to follow the trend of auteurist event television by recycling other auteurs’ masterpieces and not even bothering to find a modern auteur to give it a totally new perspective. NBC’s The Decalogue is not going to be as notable as the original unless they bring on someone like Tom Tykwer, who has directed Kieslowski scripts before, to helm each and every episode. Of course, Kieslowski actually initially intended for each short to be directed by a different filmmaker.

Anyway, what I’m wondering is when the Wachowskis will be hired to redo Fassbinder’s World on a Wire.

Christopher Campbell began writing film criticism and covering film festivals for a zine called Read, back when a zine could actually get you Sundance press credentials. He's now a Senior Editor at FSR and the founding editor of our sister site Nonfics. He also regularly contributes to Fandango and Rotten Tomatoes and is the President of the Critics Choice Association's Documentary Branch.