A Failure to Communicate | Letters | Chicago Reader

A Failure to Communicate 

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To the editors:

I'm sure glad I saw the Decalogue series at the Film Festival before I read Berenice Reynaud's comments (October 20) on the episodes. Her remarks hardly make them seem worth going to, and her reactions to them seem quite out of line with my own, those of the audience as a group, and those of the nearby strangers who couldn't help discussing the movies with each other. I'll be very wary of any reviews by her you choose to publish in the future.

Peter T. Daniels

N. Malden

Berenice Reynaud replies:

I'm sure glad Peter Daniels found the time to write to the Reader: before his enlightening letter, I probably had a rather approximate grasp of the English language. I had naively thought that describing a movie with such phrases as "one of the few masters of cinema," "tenderness, freshness, and humor," "moving, professional, accurate, and superb" (Decalogue One), "An air of immediately recognizable class" (Decalogue Two), "subtly intelligent--a profound study on the effects of emotional loneliness" (Decalogue Three), "a luminous, exhilarating, often humorous film" (Decalogue Four), "particularly remarkable for its visual style," "masterfully illustrated" (A Short Film About Killing), "splendidly expounded" (A Short Film About Love), "Kieslowski's extreme delicacy of touch, his humanist skepticism" (Decalogue Seven), "one of the most complex and richest episodes," "a subtle touch of femininity, even sensuality" (Decalogue Eight), "finesse, subtlety, and tenderness" (Decalogue Nine), "exhilarating irony" (Decalogue Ten), etc meant that the films were "worth going to." We may have, thus, nothing more than a cultural misunderstanding: perhaps Mr. Daniels does not like Wagner and thinks that describing the ending of A Short Film About Love as "as beautiful, poignant, and sad as the finale of Tristan und Isolde" is a put-down. Or maybe he does not like Christian theology, mention of anti-Semitism in eastern Europe, Krystyna Janda, or film critics whose fathers were stamp collectors. Since his letter is remarkably unspecific, I can only wonder.

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