I would like to continue the discussions on how the Internet has enriched my life, in particular when it comes to enjoying films. A few years ago I started using Netflix, a really good Internet DVD rental service, which offers a huge collection of DVD's of all kinds, from recent releases to classics to foreign movies. Netflix encourages its members to rate films, both films you rent from them as well as any other films you have watched, giving them from 1 star (hated it) to 5 stars (loved it). It then uses your ratings and compares them to the ratings from all other members, to recommend movies you are likely to love. This is similar to the book recommendations from Amazon and other Internet sites.
Sometime last February, while in London, I went to the netflix.com site for a minute to check on a movie. As usual, the first Netflix web page had a few personalized recommendations. One in particular was a movie called Blue, which I had never heard of, by a Polish director, Krzysztof Kieslowski, whom I had also never heard of. The movie had a very high rating, between 4 and 5 stars. I read comments about Blue from Netflix members at the site, and checked with some of the professional reviewers I trust the most such as Roger Ebert and James Berardinelli, and they all recommended the move very highly. I also learned that Blue was part of a trilogy, Blue, White and Red, based on the colors of the French flag, and that they were the last films made by Kieslowski, who died in 1996 two years after Red came out. I was intrigued and put Blue at the top of my Netflix queue, meaning that it would be the next movie they ship me.
I watched Blue, and indeed loved it, and proceeded to order and watch White and Red in the next few weeks, which I also loved. They were highly original, intimate movies. The reviews of all three were almost universally positive, and a number of the reviews mentioned that if you liked Kieslowski's "Three Colors" trilogy, you most definitely should watch his masterpiece, The Decalogue, a series of ten one hour films, each loosely based on one of the Ten Commandments, made for Polish television in 1988-89. I was now really, really intrigued, and promptly got a copy of The Decalogue DVDs, this time from the Westport Library, and watched the ten short films over the next couple of weeks.
The Decalogue is indeed a masterpiece, overall one of the very best and most moving films I have ever seen. Each of the ten short films in the series is exquisitely crafted with a unique combination of earthiness and spirituality, and deals with the personal moral choices that real people make in their daily lives.
I realize that such high praise for an obscure Polish TV miniseries made by an obscure Polish director may sound pretty nerdy to many. I don't know what to say, other than that it is nice that there are still such unexpected joys out there for me to discover, and I am really grateful to Netflix and the Internet for helping me do so.