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Pawel Pawlikowski’s Ida is one of the great films of the twenty-first century. Set in Poland in the years after World War 2, it’s the story of Ana a young novice nun sent to visit her aunt Wanda before taking her vows.

Ana has scarcely arrived at her aunt’s apartment when she learns that her real name is Ida Lebenstein, that she comes from a Jewish family and that her parents disappeared during the war. So begins a real and spiritual journey, with her heavy-drinking, chain-smoking aunt to find the truth and uncover the dark secrets of post-war Polish history.

Ida is a film about identity. You can choose whatever you want to be in life as long as you can live with and face up to the consequences. Those consequences of course may be crushing and unbearable. But you first need to know what your choices are.

In a beautifully composed and masterfully directed film, lasting less than ninety minutes, we see the truth that Ida and Wanda uncover, both in themselves and in the country and people around them, see the choices they make and the divergent choices they make.

You can be a Jewish nun if you want to be, or you can decide to drink and smoke yourself to death. We all must make our own decisions. Deciding for others is not so easy.

It’s easy to blame the Nazis for the atrocities of the second world war, for example, but what about those who allowed those atrocities to happen, or contributed to them, or simply looked the other way?

Discover who you really are then decide who you really want to be. That’s the theme of this movie masterpiece. Don’t take my word for it. Decide for yourself.


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