2174. A Short Film About Killing (1988)

7.5 Striking
  • Acting 7.4
  • Directing 7.7
  • Story 7.4
  • User Ratings (0 Votes) 0

Starring: Miroslaw Baka, Krzysztof Globisz, Jan Tesarz

Director: Krzysztof Kieslowski

Running Time: 82 mins

A Short Film About Killing (Krótki film o zabijaniu) is a Polish film about a young man who, after brutally and randomly murdering a taxi driver, finds himself at the centre of a cold investigation and judicial procedure.

There’s a lot that makes this film a really impressive and striking watch, particularly due to its frank and unrelenting portrayal of death and murder, amidst a deeply unsettling and bleak atmosphere. With that said, however, it doesn’t feature the consistent intrigue and depth throughout to really keep you fully engrossed from beginning to end, and outside of its two most memorable and impressive sequences, it isn’t really quite as powerful or enthralling.

Let’s start off by looking at the plot, because it’s not exactly the sort of thing you’ll be used to seeing. While it’s still a normal narrative, the plot is incredibly simplistic, following a young man as he walks around the city being antisocial, up to the point where he randomly decides to murder someone, from which point judicial procedures begin.

Now, that may sound a little too simplistic and random to make for a properly engaging watch, and that is unfortunately the case at times. The film really struggles to get off the ground in its first act, with the man’s antisocial behaviour not proving a striking enough characteristic to really engross you in a slow-moving and rather repetitive opening act.

However, the murder sequence is something to behold, as you’re thrown into an incredibly uncomfortable moment of danger in the middle of nowhere, pushed into a claustrophobic space as you watch what looks one hundred percent like a real murder unfold in the most unrelenting and bleak fashion imaginable.

I must stress that it’s not a gory piece, and that’s the main reason why it’s a striking and powerful image rather than something disgusting and exploitative, but it’s a shocking and incredibly unique moment that allows the film to burst into life, and really grab your attention.

Following that scene, things take a little bit of a step back for a while, up until the film’s finale, which is an equally – if not even more – striking sequence reinforcing the horror of killing, something that ends the movie on a rather heavy, but still incredibly impressive note.

So, from the description I’ve just given of the film’s plot, A Short Film About Killing may not sound like the world’s most appealing watch. However, as you watch, you realise that director Krzysztof Kieslowski’s bleak portrayal of the world, and particularly the killing sequences, is all part of its strongly anti-violence and anti-capital punishment agenda. I won’t go into that too much for fear of spoilers, but the fact remains that this isn’t a gory movie that glorifies murder in any way, but instead offers a frank and rather heavy-going perspective on the subject, and as such makes for a rather interesting watch.

However, while there is a lot to be impressed by here, I will say that it isn’t quite the perfect film it could be. In comparison to the exceptional A Short Film About Love, which forms a part of the same film series as this, A Short Film About Killing doesn’t always use its simplistic story and clear agenda and themes to its advantage, instead getting a little bogged down at times with a story that’s less than enthralling.

A Short Film About Love uses a powerfully unsettling atmosphere alongside a very simple yet incredibly effective premise to offer deep and riveting examinations of love in the space of just 86 minutes, whereas this film fails to bring the same depth and intrigue at every moment, which I was a little disappointed by.

Overall, A Short Film About Killing isn’t a perfect film, unfortunately missing the mark when it comes to a consistently engrossing plot, however its starkly bleak and unrelenting portrayals of murder, capital punishment and more make it a particularly striking watch, complete with a strong agenda to go with it, and that’s why I’m giving it a 7.5.


About Author

The Mad Movie Man, AKA Anthony Cullen, writes articles and reviews about movies and the world of cinema. Since January 1st, 2013, he has watched and reviewed a movie every day. This is the blog dedicated to the project: www.madmovieman.com