Sunday, 12 July 2015

Visual & Sound Diary: Ida (2014)

Director: Paweł Pawlikowski
DoP: Łukask Żal, Ryszard Lenciwski
Composer: Kristian Eidnes Andersen

Ida is the product of cinematographers Zal and Lenciwski's love affair with still photography, elaborate framing and natural light manipulation. Darkly moving and silently potent, the feature depicts the hybrid world of 1960s Poland, still scarred by the German occupation of World War II, a time of new world meets old. A trainee nun's exposition to a corrupt, superficial world blossoms in the wake of jazz concerts, young musicians, her worldly and wild aunt, a harsh woman wrapped in cynicism and vanity, and the discovery of the savage history of her late family. The stoic title character Ida is the less intriguing of the two key characters, her aunt Wanda is an evocative figure, both politically and personally. The film panders to the audience's desire to see Ida encounter the intricacies and brutality of the world outside her own by compressing them into the character of her volcanic aunt. For this, an undeniable charm invades the feature, the film afflicted by simple beauties which would, in any other realm, be considered guilty pleasures if not for its religious, political and emotional heft. 

The directors of photography emphasis the backdrop over the subject, faces drift about in the corners of each shot. Each scene is achieved by a single shot, the camera ever static. The visuals are strikingly sharp and vivid, an appreciation of detail is apparent. Moving images stun in variety: from tired parties to baron hospital rooms, stained glass windows, graves, ghost towns, dark forests, baths, places of worship, suicides and slow dances. The imagery is directly reminiscent of Ingmar Bergman. It carries the sentiment of Wild Strawberries and  echoes the religious prowess of Bergman's God's Silence trilogy. Musical contributions are sparse in Ida, the score holds off completely until the end. In this manner, the film is laced with technical symbolism. The cathartic conclusion to the film is marked by the introduction of music and the abandonment of still photography. The imagery whilst austere is hardly mundane. The film illustrates Post-War Poland in a vibrant light, as an era of vivid artistic revolution. The music I wanted to pair with the imagery was "Transcendence" by elusive Dutch composer Jochem Weierink but it is still unavailable to the public. Instead i've selected "Ich Ruf Zu Dir Herr Jesu Christ" (I call to You, Lord Jesus Christ) by Alfred Brendel. 

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