In Pawel Pawlikowski’s (My Summer of Love) latest film, Ida, is a beautifully filmed black-and-white drama examining the far reaching impact of the Holocaust, the basis of religious faith, and personal exploration.
In 1960s Poland, young orphaned woman Anna, who grew up sheltered in a convent (Agata Trzebuchowska), goes to visit her estranged aunt Wanda (Agata Kulesza) before she takes her vows. She finds out from her aunt that her real name is Ida, and that her parents were Jewish and died during the Holocaust. She then goes on a journey of discovery with her aunt to find her parents’ graves, but the journey also leads to a lot of self-discovery for Anna, and revelations about terrible secrets from her family’s past.
Pawlikowski’s film could hardly be more perfect. The stark black-and-white photography by cinematographers Ryszard Lenczewski and Lukasz Zal captures the somber mood, not only because it is black-and-white, but also because of the artistically chosen framing choices set in the tight confines of 1.33:1. Pawlikowski manages to find space and air in the smaller frame, using light, shooting in front of big windows, using some low camera angles, and using many distance shots.
The screenplay from Pawlikowski and Rebecca Lenkiewicz also gives us a lovely interplay between the cloistered Anna and her worldly aunt Wanda, letting us see an outward expression of the friction between inner faith and secular desires. Reinforcing this dissonance and also the general somber, melancholy tone of the film is Pawlikowski’s choice to bring in moments jazz from the likes of John Coltrane that imparts a definite downbeat and jarring atmosphere.
The story is slow paced, without a single moment wasted. And while it may not be one for everyone, it is a gripping and poignant film that grabs your attention for all of its 81-minutes.
Shot in HD on an Arri Alexa Plus in stunning black-and-white and framed at 1.33:1, Ida is brought to Blu-ray in a beautiful AVC/MPEG-4 1080p encodement from Artificial Eye. The contrast here is superb, with inky deep blacks and bright and stable whites. The textures are three dimensional, with lots of detail showing up in close-ups and extending way into backgrounds.
The sole audio track is a Polish DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz/24-bit) track that might as well be a stereo track for the lack of audibility in the surround channels. This isn’t necessarily harmful to this dialogue-driven film, but more ambience would have helped some of the outdoor scenes with breeze and traffic noise to have a bit more realism and spaciousness.
We only get the original theatrical trailer.
- Trailer (1.33:1; 1080p/24; 00:01:55)
The Definitive Word
A powerful and stark film showing a test of religious beliefs and self-awakening, Ida questions the very basis of faith and morality while offering a tragic view of the lasting implications of the Holocaust. This gorgeous looking and powerfully acted film is beautifully rendered on Blu-ray from Artificial Eye.