An American Version of Kieślowski’s Decalogue?
small, An American Version of Kieślowski’s Decalogue?, Grażyna Szapołowska in A Short Film About Love, dir. Krzysztof Kieślowski, photo: Andrzej Burchard / Fototeka Filmoteki Narodowe, www.fn.org.pl, full_szapolowska_w_krotkim_filmie_o_milosci_andrzej_burchard_770.jpg
Krzysztof Kieślowski’s Decalogue awaits its modern remake as series. Its production is currently being set up by the American NBC TV network.
Todd Ellis Kessler, co-author and producer of The Good Wife, one of the top TV series of the last decade, will be responsible for the screenplay, and what is known so far is that the American version of Decalogue will take place in Boston.
This information was recently published by Nellie Andreeva from Deadline.com, and soon after it has spread to other American media. And although Polish media do show some enthusiasm, the American Decalogue project rouses some doubts as well. Mainly because of the network that has decided to produce Kieślowski’s piece.
NBC isn’t very successful when it comes to TV series. Its managers try to reach the viewers by choosing well-known stories and famous names. It was NBC that produced the series version of Dracula, starring Jonathan Rhys-Meyers as the main character, the mini-series adaptation of Agnieszka Holland’s Rosemary’s baby, Grimm series, which drawn heavily on Andersen’s and Grimm brothers fairy tales, the remake of the Constantine comics, and Hannibal – the series story about Hannibal Lecter.
Out of all these titles only Hannibal managed to defend itself on the screen – the others bogged down in pretentiousness, childishness or banality. Even though the NBC producers try to mark their position on the series map, they still lack the courage to trust the series showrunners and to hand over at least some of the power to directors.
What is it going to be like this time? It’s difficult to guess. The case of Hannibal, created by series master Bryan Fuller, shows that even NBC allows strong, artistic personalities to take the floor. And Todd Ellis Kessler is certainly one of them. To prove this is The Good Wife, which for all of its six seasons has kept an even and distinct level. Enough said that among this year’s Golden Globe nominees The Good Wife was a single representative of giant TV networks, which in previous years have moved aside to make room for cable TV networks. And although the giant TV networks don’t give up, and Fox, ABC and CBS come up with aspiring series ideas, NBC can’t find its niche. Smaller, yet reputable networks, such as HBO, Showtime and AMC for years have been engaging the most interesting screenwriters and directors, and currently rule the series field.
This isn’t the first time that Kieślowski attracted attention of foreign producers. Ever since Decalogue appeared on the screen in 1989, it has been met with recognition all over the world. It was enthusiastically received at festivals in Montreal, San Sebastian, São Paulo and in Venice, where it was awarded with a FIPRESCI prize. The series was presented, among others, in France, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, Belgium, United States, Switzerland, Great Britain, Japan, Spain, Australia, Canada and Hong Kong.
In 2005 George Clooney and Steve Soderbergh were both interested in remaking Kieślowski’s and Piesiewicz’s series, however Krzysztof Piesiewicz’s objection stood on their way. Four years later the series awaited its Polish spin-off. To celebrate the twentieth anniversary of Decalogue’s premiere, out of Andrzej Mańkowski’s initiative, ten young filmmakers have prepared a set of 20 minutes long études, of which each told a story about one of the Decalogue’s commandments. Among the young and talented directors of Decalogue 89+ were Adrian Panek, Bartosz Paduch and Marcin Bortkiewicz.
The series project of Kessler is still very mysterious. It’s still not known who is going to realise the series, nor when the American Decalogue would see the daylight. We should hope that this time the NBC managers know what they’re doing and that by realising their own version of Kieślowski’s masterpiece, they want to produce a meaningful series story, rather than only make it grist to the mill.
Sources: Deadline, Gazeta.pl, own info. edit. BS., transl. Agata Dudek