A monochromatic drama set in 1960s Poland, Ida (2013, dir. Paweł Pawlikowski) is a powerful film about identity, whether this is individual, religious, or cultural; and about a young woman who seeks to navigate the muddy waters between her present identity, and a newly discovered one. Well-known for winning the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar in 2015, Ida is a short but beautiful examination of grief and its intersection with historical events. Its synopsis is as follows:
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. (source)
Possessing a runtime of 82 minutes, Ida is one of the first films that sprung to mind when Rob and I were brainstorming about A Timely Blogathon. I’ve already reviewed the film, so I knew I had to showcase one of my favourite elements of it for this post. The visuals and cinematography of Ida are absolutely divine. Cinematographers Łukasz Żal and Ryszard Lenczewski have crafted a very striking film indeed. Here’s what I had to say about the visuals when I reviewed it back in 2014:
Visually, Ida is a stunner. It’s filmed in black and white, with rich greys in between, and if I could have first guessed I would have said it was filmed on old film stock – it has that somewhat faded, grainy vintage look that older films have. But it’s actually filmed on digital, and once you know that, the choice to make some shots more grainy or out of focus makes total sense. There are some fairly experimental camera angles and interesting use of space that catch you off guard, just as the story eventually catches you off guard. This director seems to really love steady establishing shots that show us exactly what the characters are doing – whether it’s lying on the ground prostrate at the convent, or taking a long, purposeful drag of a cigarette. The visuals of Ida are just as important, and occasionally more important, when compared to the dialogue, which is equally minimal but filled with meaning. There are no words or visuals wasted in this film. Everything seems to be intentionally crafted, yet naturally formed. It’s an interesting dichotomy that makes for a very significant film-viewing experience.
End quote! Here is a selection of my favourite images of the film, mixed up to avoid spoilers.
Watch the trailer here.