Follow TV Tropes


Film / Ida

Go To

Ida is a 2013 Polish film directed and written by Paweł Pawlikowski.

The film is set in Poland in 1961. Anna is a novitiate nun, having been raised from infancy in a convent. With the date when Anna is to take her vows rapidly approaching, the Mother Superior tells Anna that she must first visit her only known relative, Wanda Gruz, her aunt. Anna goes to see Wanda, who could not be more different than her niece. Wanda is a Communist judge, who smokes, drinks to excess, and is very promiscuous. Wanda has a big surprise for Anna: Anna is actually Jewish. Her real name is Ida Lebenstein. Ida's parents—Wanda's sister and brother-in-law—were killed During the War. Wanda takes Anna/Ida off on a trip to the village their family used to live in, in an effort to find out what happened to her parents.


  • Ask a Stupid Question...: A testy exchange between Wanda and a bartender after Wanda asks about Ida's deceased parents.
    Bartender: Jews?
    Wanda: No, Eskimos.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Wanda loses interest in life and commits suicide, and Ida leaves Lis to travel back to the rigid and colorless convent. Importantly, the shot lingers not on her actually returning but on her walking the road between the convent (which no longer satisfies her) and the outside world (which she does not understand). The only thing saving the film from a complete Downer Ending is that she and Wanda did find out what happened to their relatives and were able to give them a proper burial after their violent death, giving Wanda closure about her son.
  • Bodyguard Betrayal: Ida's parents and cousin were killed by the Skibas, the Christian Poles who were hiding them in the woods. Afterwards, the Skibas took possession of their farm.
  • But Now I Must Go: After Wanda's death, Ida tries out a life of hedonism—letting her hair down, putting on a party dress and high heels, and sleeping with Lis. She asks him what they'll do next, and she's unimpressed by his response, either sarcastic or enthusiastic, about getting married. The next morning, she gets up, puts her nun's habit back on, and leaves, presumably headed back to the convent.
  • Commie Land: A dreary, dilapidated, dank and cheerless Poland, still suffering from the aftereffects of the war and the present effects of Soviet occupation. It's cold and rainy, and paint is peeling everywhere.
  • Cool Aunt: Subverted with Wanda; despite her breezy hedonism she gets less and less enthusiastic about life as the film goes on, and unlike the typical Cool Uncle, she refused to raise the orphaned Ida.
  • Deliberately Monochrome: Part of the Retraux look (see below). It also works to establish the mood in depressing Communist Poland.
  • Driven to Suicide: Wanda jumps out a window to her death.
  • Finally Found the Body: Wanda knows that Ida's parents and cousin were murdered, but the better part of the film revolves around trying to find where they were buried. Feliks eventually agrees to show them where the bones are (as long as Ida promises to not lay claim to her parents' house), and Ida and Wanda are able to bury them in a Jewish cemetery.
  • For Doom the Bell Tolls: The heavy church bells that are tolling as another novitiate nun takes her vows, as Ida watches, certainly seem like this.
  • Great Offscreen War: The main theme is what happened During the War and the years after, and how Poland's traumas still overshadow life in the country in 1961.
  • Greed: Feliks's murder of Ida's parents and cousin could be explained by fear of discovery and punishment by the Nazis, but his emphasis on the house implies that it was so his family could take the farm, which wasn't unheard of. Word of God states that it could go either way.
  • Hanging Judge: Wanda is a judge. She admits to Ida that in the early postwar years, she was "Red Wanda", the Hanging Judge that sent people to their deaths in Stalinist show trials.
  • Historical Villain Downgrade: Wanda Gruz is based on a real-life communist military prosecutor Helena Brus-Wolińska (born Fajga Mindla) who was known for her ruthlessness and cruelty. Wanda is portrayed as somewhat frightening, but also a Jerkass Woobie.
  • Hollywood Atheist: Wanda, who is a former Communist prosecutor notorious for condemning "Enemies of the People" to their deaths, lives a life of empty hedonism but appears very depressed. After finding out her sister, brother-in-law and son were killed during World War Two, she loses all interest in living, killing herself.
  • Informed Judaism: Played for Drama. Ida had no idea her parents were Jewish, and the discovery shakes her.
  • La RĂ©sistance: How Wanda survived the war, by being part of the Polish Communist resistance.
  • Leave the Camera Running /The Oner: The Movie. This film is filled with static shot after static shot, long shots in which the camera never moves, often in total silence. Possibly the most dramatic instance is Wanda's suicide scene. The camera is motionless, trained on the open window. Time passes, then Wanda crosses the frame from left to right. Time passes again. Wanda enters the frame again, and jumps out the window. Some more time passes as the camera continues to point at the window.
  • Letting Her Hair Down: After Wanda criticizes/mocks Ida for being a virgin and never having impure thoughts, and Lis muses on the effect she has without even knowing it, Ida goes into a restroom and unpins her long red hair. Later, she lets her hair down after leaving the convent.
  • Limited Wardrobe: Ida is only ever shown wearing her habit, until Wanda's death. Then she switches out her habit for a dress Wanda was shown wearing earlier.
  • No Antagonist: Even Feliks, who reveals that he murdered Ida's family (presumably to take their land) comes off as more pathetic than anything and shows Ida to their burial spot after their second conversation.
  • No Ending: Though the film ends with Ida presumably returning to the convent, the last shot is of her on the road, caught between the two worlds; whether or not she will go through with the vows to a lifestyle that no longer fully interests her is left up to chance, though the implication is that she can't fit in with the outside world.
  • Really Gets Around: Wanda picks up men a lot. It seems to be a symptom of her depression.
    Wanda: I'm a slut, and you're a little saint.
  • Retraux: Besides being in black and white, the film is shot in the 4:3 Aspect Ratio that was standard for movies up until the 1960s. Director Pawel Pawlikowski, who emigrated from Poland with his mother in 1971 at the age of 14, has stated that this was an attempt to evoke the feel of the Polish cinema of his youth.
  • Sex Equals Love: Decidedly averted. Sex with Lis leaves Ida unmoved and indifferent and seems to embolden her decision to return to the convent.
  • Sexy Sax Man: Lis. The girls pick him up hitchhiking. Wanda is obviously attracted to him, pronouncing the saxophone to be a "sensual", "male" instrument. Ida eventually sleeps with him after leaving the convent.
  • Sexy Soaked Shirt: Occurs when another novitiate is doused in water while still wearing a cotton shift. Ida, now feeling less enthusiastic about being a nun, notices.
  • Source Music: There's pop music on the radio, and Wanda plays music on her turntable, and Lis's band plays in a few scenes. But there is no score except for a Bach piece that plays over the last scene.
  • Survivor's Guilt: Wanda's depression comes from the fact that she left her son in her sister's care to join the partisans and they were murdered. It's also part of the reason she didn't adopt Ida: she survived, while her son didn't.
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: Wanda gets the better of Feliks Skiba, the Christian Pole who now occupies the farm where Ida's family once lived.
    Wanda: Our family used to live in this house.
    Feliks: No Jews ever lived here.
    Wanda: I didn't say they were Jews.
  • Tranquil Fury: Ida is extremely calm, even when being shown her parents' bones, but Wanda trying to grab her Bible is one of the few things that truly provokes her.
  • Vasquez Always Dies: The more "liberated", alcoholic Wanda commits suicide, while Ida survives and returns to the convent.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Feliks murders Wanda's young son, along with Ida's parents. He tells Ida that she was only able to be saved because she was so young that she could be passed off as non-Jewish; otherwise she would have had the same fate.