The Bayley Film Club: Paweł Pawlikowski

For 22nd round we come back to Poland with Paweł Pawlikowski’s “Ida” and “Cold War”.

Ida

Cold War

Ida

Author: AED
Anticipation: 4
Enjoyment: 5
Retrospect:5
Score: 14

“Ida” could be described as a set of beautifully arranged photographs as much as it would a feature film. Pawel Pawlikowski masters the play between light and shadows magnificently in this black and white picture. 

The story orbits around two women on a mission to discover a young nun-to-be’s parents graves before she takes her vows. Anna (Agata Trzebuchowska) sets to meet her only living relative Wanda (Agata Kulesza) who discloses that the girl’s real name is Ida Lebenstein and that she was born Jewish. Regardless of differences in character and nothing in common except blood, both women unite to discover their family’s fate. 

This beautiful drama is thoughtful and thought-provoking. Touches the still sensitive topics of Jew extermination during the war, personal values, faith, and most of all, humanity. But, what I asked myself was, is it really “humanity” if there’s nothing “humane” about it anymore, just pure instinct of survival.

Cold War

Author: AED
Anticipation: 5
Enjoyment: 5
Retrospect:5
Score: 15

Pawlikowski’s “Cold War” doesn’t waste a single shot, nothing in this film is just there to take space. It is a love story, but the true kind, nothing like the romcom genre.  

Wiktor Warski (Tomasz Kot) and Irena Bielecka (Agata Kulesza) take on a task of creating a youth folk group “Mazurek”. Charismatic Zula Lichoń (Joanna Kulig) joins it and soon later finds herself in an affair with Wiktor. After a successful performance in Warsaw, the artistic team becomes a political tool for communistic propaganda. The love affair is tangled between patriotic agendas, class differences and a wide spectrum of decisions fuelled by these factors. 

I know Tomasz Kot from other pictures, and up to recently my favourite film starring him was “Bogowie” (trans. The Gods) about famous polish cardiac surgeon who performed the country’s first heart transplant. “Cold War” tops it though. 

It’s fabulously written – the characters are witty and very real. It’s a celebration of Polish culture. Shot in black and white not to distract from what matters.  “Cold War” is absolutely fantastic.

Ida

Author: NAT
Anticipation: 2
Enjoyment: 5
Retrospect:5
Score: 12

Set in 1970’s Poland, “Ida” follows a young catholic woman on the verge of taking her vows and her only living relative – a former State Prosecutor aunt – across the country to discover the fate of her biological Jewish family.

Ida provides an incredibly succinct depiction of tragedies committed in Poland stretching from the Nazi invasion to Stalinism.  

Pawlikowski provides a piece of cinema which makes the audience reflect on the impact of historical tragic events on individual, whilst, as with ‘Cold War’, employing beautiful and even sometimes overwhelming cinematography. Thoroughly captivating.

Cold War

Author: NAT
Anticipation: 2
Enjoyment: 5
Retrospect:4
Score: 11

Set in 1950’s Poland, a conductor and singer begin an infatuation whilst working for a touring youth folk music and dance performance group. The audience is absorbed by the resplendent black and white cinematography and captivating use of music, song and dance throughout.

Under the bleak backdrop of the Stalin regime, the two lover’s lives take different paths when the make the decision to leave for a better life in Western Europe, however their craving for one another never fades.

While the places and faces of their love story evolve as both lovers mature; loneliness, sacrifice and heartbreak endure.

A moving film that reminds us to appreciate the love in our lives, but also makes us consider the darker powers that keep others from being able to do so.

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