Ida 01.07.16

cert 12Ida is set in Poland in 1962. Anna, an orphan brought up by nuns in the convent, is a novice. She has to see Wanda, her 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.


One Response to “Ida 01.07.16”
  1. Louise Dixon says:

    Ida is a 2013 Polish drama produced by Pawel Pawlikowski and Rebecca Lenkiewicz.
    The film features a young woman, Ida (Anna at the time), living in 1962 Poland, about to take her vows as a Catholic nun. Before she takes her vows, she meets her aunt, the only surviving relative she has. Her aunt, Wanda, is a retired communist state prosecutor, who informs Ida of her Jewish heritage, a revelation that provokes the expedition of the two women to the Polish countryside, in hopes of learning the fate of their family.

    ‘Ida’ uses its plot of journeying and traveling to lend itself as a ‘road movie’, and takes time to explore the relationship between Ida and her niece, Wanda Gruz. The two are inherently different; Ida is a routine-built, docile Catholic nun, while Wanda is an impulsive, indiscrete communist. Both characters engage in activities that the other criticises. At first, the two characters interact entirely through taunts, namely by Wanda to Ida, with regard to Ida’s ignorance towards her family roots and blind dedication to Christ. Ida’s relationships branch to a young man called Lis, a hitchhiker who doubles as an alto saxophone player. Wanda prompts Ida to take an interest in him, and eventually Ida and Lis talk. As the story progresses, and the two learn of the gruesome fate of their family, Ida and Wanda discover that Ida’s parents were murdered and buried by Felids Akiba, a Pole that accompanies the two to the burial place. He admits to the murders, stating that Ida, a child at the time, passed for a Christian, and was able to be given to a convent. He also reveals that Wanda’s son was ‘dark and circumcised’, and could not pass for a Christian child as a result. Felids’ motivation is implied to be his fear of being killed himself by Nazis for sheltering Jews. This motivation is implied heavily, but ambiguous due to much being left unsaid. From here, the film takes on a flat, morbid sadness that softens the tension between the characters. When Wanda’s grief causes her to take her own life, Ida attends her funeral, and exchanges her convent habit for her aunt’s stilettos and evening gown, a significant decision that indicates Ida’s change of heart, and willingness to attempt Wanda’s lifestyle- perhaps to test it, or to ease grief; the motive is left obscure. Eventually, she finds herself overwhelmed by the freedom of the life of a promiscuous alcoholic, and dons her convent habit once again, unable to cope without the routine and controlled life she was used to in the convent.

    The film uses an atmosphere of emptiness and sparseness, amplified by its grayscale colouring and its environmental choice of Polish countryside and lack of characters and speaking roles. The population of Poland is clearly shown to have been diminished, and although unspoken, we learn that it is because of the war. Poland is displayed as a dead, deserted land of cafes, motels and pine forests. This use of atmosphere helps to develop themes of morbidity and eeriness.

    I enjoyed this film for a number of reasons. As a foreign film, it made itself an impressively expressive and visual film, and although there were subtitles, the emphasis of facial expression and body movement brought emotion to the dialogue that may otherwise go undetected by a foreign audience, such as myself.

    The film builds upon the very beginning of a relationship between two starkly different characters, right to the end of the relationship. The pacing of the film is steady, and the death of Wanda deviates greatly from the pace set, as well as Ida’s experimental transformation into a copy of her aunt. Both of these events are intended to be out of the ordinary and abrupt, though clearly not played simply for shock factor. The film, although slow-paced and fairly emotionless, was at few points boring. It is one of the first films I have enjoyed for its informative value, rather than its factor of entertainment. Although a drama, this film is not as entertaining as it is extremely fascinating, which is its driving force for capturing its audience.

    The intended audience of this film is clearly directed at a certain group of the population that has ties to Poland’s history, and its relation to the holocaust and Stalinism, neither of which are the overlying themes of the film, but are heavily embedded into the story.

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