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Couple of comments: first, this is the latest movie from Polish writer-director Pawel Pawlikowski , who brought us the excellent "My Summer of Love" some 10 years ago. Here he brings yet another deeply moving story of a young woman, now Anna/Ida. Second, the movie is not only shot in black and white, but on top of that this is not a wide-screen movie (the aspect ratio is close to but not quite 1:1, very unusual). Third, there are several serious undertones, be they emotional, religious or otherwise, in this movie, The tension between Wanda, an alcoholic, non-practicing Jewish woman, and Ida, the shy yet curious Catholic-raised nun-to-be, is explored brilliantly in the movie. Then there is the issue of Jewish survivors of WWII, and the non-Jewish local population's tormented feelings about whether they did enough to help Jews in WWII.Read more ›
The story begins in the early 1960's, with Anna (played by Agata Trzebuchowska) sheltered behind convent walls most of her Life, ready to take her vows to become a full-fledged nun (she was hidden there as a baby by Polish neighbors, to conceal her Jewish origins from the Nazis during the early 1940's)
However, Anna is informed by the mother superior that she must first meet her only surviving aunt Wanda, before being confirmed. Aunt Wanda (played by Agata Kulesza) had been a prominent (nononsense and quite intimidating/intense) prosecutor during the mostly brutal Stalinist heyday in early 1950's Poland, but has now become an alcoholic second-tier 'administrator' in the slightly less brutal (though still quite dour) post-Stalinist period of early 1960's.
Wanda doesn't mince words, and quickly informs the sheltered Anna that her birth name was really Ida Lebenstein (and therefore she is actually a uniquely Jewish Nun) also informing her that Anna/Ida's parents were murdered during WWII. Anna still wants to pay condolences to her long-dead parents, but Wanda tells her that they (like most Jews of that terribly cruel time and place) were left in unmarked/ completely forgotten grave-sites (if buried at all)
However, the two still venture-on with the intention of finding whatever additional information they can possibly uncover regarding the true fate of Anna/Ida's parents (the mother being Wanda's beloved sister, and as we later sadly find out, Wanda's very young son who also perished there).Read more ›
For me though, the imagery and, especially, sounds brought me to a whole new place. The story necessarily puts us in a convent, where the old stone walls seem to make all sounds far more intense and sometimes very funny. Large parts of the story take place on a farm, in a quiet hotel and a pub with a dance band; all of these places are brought alive from the sounds that come from them -- if only I knew Polish!
And of all things, I was really impressed by the sound effect of someone sleeping deeply, a light snore really. We understand what it means, it's part of real world, but how often do we hear it in the movies?
The cars, so much thought went into it. With so much of the action being, "on the road", you'd never have any reason to believe this wasn't shot other than in 1962 in Poland. And the same goes with the trains, tractors, horse-drawn carts and, even, stereo systems of the time.
The acting and filming are simply magnificent and the experience of watching it as the aunt & Ida arrive at their destinations are haunting. This film is a must see for anyone who appreciates great film-making.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
If you are concerned about "spoilers," read no further....
"The main character (Ida) is a war orphan raised in the convent in which she is about to make... Read more
When I turned on the television the night of the Academy Awards early in 2015, I arrived just in time to see this movie win the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. Read morePublished 1 month ago by MDLION
This film was a complete let down. Overrated, depressing and mediocre, makes one really wonder how it ever could won an Academy Award. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Dimitrios
Bleak but well done. The black and white helped convey the bleakness of post WW II Poland and what it was like under Communist rule. Interesting story as well.Published 2 months ago by Arthur
As a film student of yore, I was utterly transported back to those days of cinematic exploration. This Danish and Polish collaboration has all of the earmarks of both countries'... Read morePublished 2 months ago by K. Chaffraix
Not sure why this won awards. A poor reflection of the life of a "nun"--how easily she gave in to societal pressures, then in the end returning to the convent as though it... Read morePublished 3 months ago by HRN7442