IDA is Director Pawel Pawlikowski’s exploration of a dark family secret by a young novitiate nun, Ida, on the verge of taking her vows. IDA won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film 2015, as well as BAFTA Best Non-English Film, LA Film Critics, NY Film Critics and countless other film awards.
The visualization and shot design by Pawlikowski illustrates and indicates Ida’s inner thoughts, feelings and place in the world. It’s hard to find one singular clip as the film’s scenes are tightly woven together, but here is the opening which sets up Pawlikowki’s visual style.
The 4×3 frame boxes the characters in and also hides outside information from us and it’s characters. By forcing the characters to the bottom or sides of the frame and shooting them from high angles he accentuates their insignificants in the religious and political world of Poland in 1962. IDA is portrayed in a childlike and almost vacuous way by Agata Trzebuchwska, a non-actor.
There is no camera movement until the last two shots demonstrating Ida’s movement forward and maturation. She has made the decision to go back to the convent and it is a strong decision. The film is dominated with hard cuts, no dissolves and fades, causing us, never giving us a moments rest and or to allow us to reorient ourselves every time the shot changes. The shots are long and this along with the hard cuts signifies the Ida’s jarring experience in this foreign world.
It was said to me that Pawlikoski’s film is shallow, doing nothing more than stealing from the great Polish filmmakers of the 60’s. I couldn’t disagree more and I would venture to say that I believe that Pawlikowski was influenced by their work and made it his own in what I believe is a terrific film.