Ida (Pawlinkowski, 2013 – Polish with English subtitles) set in 1962 Poland tells the story of a girl who was orphaned and grows up in a Catholic-run orphanage. When she becomes of age she wants to become a nun. But is unable to do so because she is Jewish. However, Anna never knew she was part Jewish. Anna can no longer stay at the orphanage. The nearest living relative is sought out to take her, which is her Aunt Wanda. However, Wanda informs Mother Superior she unable to get to Anna. Therefore, Mother Superior suggests Anna go to her aunt, which she does.
What makes foreign films and films like this one great (arthouse) is missing information is prevalent. The filmmaker wants the viewer to fill in the missing pieces with the information given.
THE TRUTH ABOUT ANNA’S FAMILY
Anna makes it aunt’s house and that night her aunt shows Anna pictures of her parents and a little boy. Anna thinks the little boy is her brother but Wanda tells her it’s not. Thus begins the journey to find out what happened to Anna’s parents whose mother is Wanda’s sister. The audience soon learns that Wanda is a judge but was a prosecutor after the war. In addition, she presided over several trials involving crimes against humanity.
Soon Wanda and Anna begin their journey to Anna’s home before the war. There they meet the new owners. Wanda ends up has a conformation with the husband whose father hid Anna’s parents and the baby boy during the war. The husband now lives in the house with his wife and family. He refuses to give Wanda or Anna any information and tells them to leave, which they do. However, Wanda finds out the hospital the father is in. Again, missing information on how she learned this, but it’s not needed. What the viewer knows is that Wanda is a determined woman. Once Wanda and Anna are with the father they learn the truth about Ann’s parents, Wanda’s sister.
Ida falls into two genres’: drama and arthouse. It’s the latter that will draw viewers in
Art house is a film genre that encompasses films where the content and style – often artistic or experimental – adhere with as little compromise as possible to the filmmakers’ artistic vision. The narrative is often in the social realism style with a focus on the characters’ contemplation of their existence or immediate concerns. (source: Art House (Definition) – Wonderful Cinema)
Pawel Pawlikowski does just that with Ida. Filmed in black and white the story focuses on the characters rather than the scene. The silence that is through the movie becomes an added character. For just as the people are left to think, so is the audience. Also, there isn’t any fancy footwork when it comes to cinematography. What the viewer sees is what the viewer gets. When one watches a film, they are the viewer, but with Ida, the viewer will seem more like a spectator allowed to witness the first-hand account of both Anna and Wanda’s inner struggles.
WHEN THE TRUTH IS LEARNED
What makes this film particularly interesting and tragic is the truth that is learned about Anna’s family, and the baby boy. The result leads to both Anna and Wanda making decisions they normally would not have made if circumstances had been different. But it’s also through this journey that Wanda and Anna form a silent bond that will never be broken despite the decisions they made.
The film is a slow journey yet a compelling one. This may remind of any Michael Haneke film, for the people and the sounds of life is the soundtrack and the silence throughout is it’s conductor.
Ida is currently steaming on Amazon Prime