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Poland, 1962. Anna, an orphan brought up by nuns in the convent, is a novice. She has to see Wanda, the only living relative, before she takes her vows. Wanda tells Anna about her Jewish roots. Both women start a journey not only to find their family's tragic story, but to see who they really are and where they belong. They question what they used to believe in. Written by
Near the end of the film, in the scene where Wanda lays out photos of deceased relatives, the photo third row down, far left, is that of Irena Sendler, a nurse and social worker who led a secret operation that saved the lives of 2,500 children by smuggling them out of the Warsaw ghetto during WW2. See more »
When Ida is in a church, the priest seems to be getting ready to say Mass and we see a versus populum altar, which didn't become the norm until years later after Vatican II. The movie takes place in 1961 and the priest would have been saying Mass on the high altar. See more »
What sort of sacrifice are these vows of yours?
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Ida (2013) is a Polish film co-written and directed by Pawel Pawlikowski. This brilliant film follows a few days in the life of Anna, a young novitiate nun. Anna has been raised in a convent, and she plans to take her vows and stay in the convent for the rest of her life.
However, before this can take place, the mother superior sends her to meet her only living relative, a woman named Wanda.
The pair could not be less similar. Ida is quiet, gentle, thoughtful, and shy. Her aunt is tough as nails--she has real power as a judge, and she knows how to use it. She's a heavy drinker and a heavy smoker. She's also a Jew.
In the first few minutes of the movie, Anna learns that she's Jewish. As a very young girl, she was taken to the convent, where the nuns raised her. (Her real name is Ida, which is why that's the title of the film.)
Wanda and Anna set out to return to their rural home, to solve the mystery of what happened to their family 20 years earlier. Why did Ida survive, when her family--other than Wanda--did not?
This film, shot in black & white, is superbly constructed on every dimension. The plot is tight, and the acting is incredible. Agata Kulesza (Wanda) and Agata Trzebuchowska (Anna/Ida), are immensely talented actors.
The cinematography is incomparable. My wife and I felt as if any frame--from the beginning to the end of the movie--would make a great still photograph.
Pawlikowski knows how to focus on his main actors, but he also lets us know that, while the protagonists are involved in heartbreaking drama, the rest of the world is going about its business around them.
This is a grim film. Anna's life is restricted by her piety. Wanda's life is constricted by alcohol and--it would appear--by lack of any close personal relationships. Everyone in Poland is restricted by horrible memories, dark secrets, and Soviet domination.
Grim or not, this is a film you shouldn't pass up if you care about great cinema. We saw it on a large screen at the LittleTheatre in Rochester, NY. However, it will work well enough on DVD. Don't miss it.
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