Kieslowski's “Decalogue”, a set of 10 one-hour films made in Poland in 1987, is unlike any other film experience. It’s not so much a "movie" as a "mini life phase." I've been watching one of the films per night for the past few days. I've never seen a more compelling portrayal of human misery, hopelessness, and desperation. I say the series is a "mini life phase" because of the extent to which it has influenced my mood over the past several days. I guess you could say I've been a little depressed.
It would be easy to say that characters in the Decalogue suffer from clinical depression, but that, of course, misses the point badly. I suspect that to isolate depression as a condition absent the individual's external environment is to oversimplify and fail to understand it. Kieslowski shows us a society in which depression is the norm...in which the characters are unable to escape their shared mood and circumstance.
Incidentally, the rise in depression we've seen in the US certainly has a lot to do with our external environment as well. America has a war on everything…even a war on unhappiness. And what is often overlooked is the genuine and subtle beauty that can be found in the absence of cheeriness and perkiness. I'll continue watching the last 5 in the series because, despite what pop culture teaches us, misery can be embraced by the emotionally and intellectually honest. I don't want to accept the idea that depression is an illness. In fact, I’d rather start a war on cheeriness and perkiness instead.