Hope, Faith and Sublime Beauty in the Clamor of Suffering: “Ida”

Recently, the Polish movie Ida made a tremendous emotional impact on me. It is the sort of movie about which the less is known before seeing it the better, in order to approach it without any expectations. It is wonderfully minimalistic in expression but extremely harrowing emotions are palpable, gut-wrenching, heart-stopping all throughout its duration. The shadows of the past chased after by the two main female characters cover the movie’s narrated time with a sticky, suffocating sediment. I keep wondering, though, why the director chose Mozart’s “Jupiter Symphony” to sound in one of the saddest moments? In astrology Jupiter correlates with faith, expansion, courage, optimism, redemption. The two main female characters: the “saint” and the “sinner,” in my humble view, both possess these qualities, which gracefully uplifts the movie to Jupiterian heights. No matter the stark circumstances of the post-war communist Poland, no matter the truth about the past, both Ida and her aunt achieve the seemingly impossible in their performances: they evoke the sublime and the beautiful. Ida’s face seems to have come straight from the canvas of Vermeer, while her aunt has the fleshy dignity of Lautrec’s ladies of the evening. She evokes Mary Magdalene. In one of the interviews, the director of the movie said:

 “One of my favorite writers is Chekhov. I love his attitude toward the world. Just accept things for what they are. Don’t judge. Be moral as you tell your story, but have no moral at the end. Just look at it.”

I find it quite impressive that Pawlikowski achieved the impossible paradox: his movie is still and minimalistic, seemingly detached, and yet it lingeringly conveys the turmoil, passion, frenzy and intensity of the full on engagement with the terrors of existence.

Henri de Toulouse Lautrec, "La femme au boa noir"

Henri de Toulouse Lautrec, “La femme au boa noir”

ida2

Johannes Vermeer, “Woman Holding a Balance”

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20 Responses to Hope, Faith and Sublime Beauty in the Clamor of Suffering: “Ida”

  1. roughghosts says:

    I tend to be hopelessly out of touch with films but this does sound intriguing. I placed a hold at the library but there are 234 people ahead of me for 6 copies. Thank you for your sensitive reflections.

    • Hello, we are even now because I’ve been reading The Emigrants based on your recommendation and it is beautiful. I used to be more in touch with films but I’m not any more. This one I had to see for obvious reasons – my nationality being the first one.

  2. SalvaVenia says:

    Your lines create a lot of curiosity; which is the best thing to be achieved. 🙂

  3. Such a lovely and evocative review. I’ll look for the film; I’ve not seen it. Thanks for sharing. J

  4. The space that he surrounds his protagonists in is another way he draws you into their story. It is as if you want to ‘will’ them into the center of the frame. By framing them at the edge, he turns the viewer into an active participant.

  5. Hi Monika. Great summary of the film. My wife and I took both our daughters to see it at the theater when it came out. Definitely a haunting and beautiful film. Hope you are doing well.

    Jeff

  6. lampmagician says:

    Reblogged this on lampmagician and commented:
    “One of my favorite writers is Chekhov. I love his attitude toward the world. Just accept things for what they are. Don’t judge. Be moral as you tell your story, but have no moral at the end. Just look at it.”

  7. Pingback: Hope, Faith and Sublime Beauty in the Clamor of Suffering: “Ida” | lampmagician

  8. Lovely review. I’m eager to watch it now.

  9. renatembell says:

    Thank you for the encouragement with another excellent post. I saved this movie to my list of movies to watch on Netflix about a month ago but haven’t watched it yet. I will soon!

  10. Tom Diaz says:

    Thank you. I too was curious about why the Jupiter Symphony, and your answer seems to be spot on. I saw the movie “on demand” and it so captured me that I now own the DVD version.

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