The motif of death has always been present in Zanussi's work. The Spiralis the first of two films devoted entirely to eschatology. The process of dying is shown here with no corrections, in a straightforward way, with all its ugliness, physiology, pain and fear. The rebellion against the imminence and proximity of death is strong as the main character, Tomasz Piątek, is relatively young, is at the top of his career and - as his doctor puts it - he has a consumerist attitude to life. The vision of death makes Tomasz re-evaluate the meanings of his previous achievement. From the medical point of view the ironical desperate rebellion is just another stage of dying. Paradoxically, Piątek's final decision is a challenge against the imminence of death. The bitter message is enhanced by the contrast of two sceneries - mountains (another of the director's favourite motifs) and the sordid hospital. The only commentary introducing the metaphysics is the finale, referring to books about life after life and life after death, which were very popular in Poland at the time.
Zanussi then returned to the subject of eschatology more than two decades later in the film Life as a Fatal Sexually Transmitted Disease.