I had heard about this Polish film that portrayed a young novice in the Convent on the way to taking her vows, but had never seen it. I can’t imagine how I could have missed such a treasure.
The setting is post-WW II Poland. Ida, the young orphan-to-become-nun is making a last visit to any living family, an aunt. During her visit she discovers, of all things, that her family background was Jewish. And so the search for how her parents perished began. The short version of that long answer is that they perished as a result of the antisemitism of the 3rd Reich.
Of course, her aunt’s early question persisted throughout the story: So are you going to be the first Jewish nun? Ida had to make sense of not only that – and make some decision – but also come to terms with her family history, her heritage.
After finding the remains of her family and burying them with respect and honor, she finds her way back to the convent, though not to vows … yet. She has some exploration of her life to make before that. But her aunt makes her way toward another kind of exit from this world, out of a fourth story window. It was inevitable.
At the end of the movie Ida is making her way down a road leading in the general direction of the convent. She is wearing her head covering. We assume she is going back for good. But will she? Will she become the first Jewish nun?