. . . Ida.
It’s a 2013 Polish film by director Pawel Pawlikowski. It was shot in a spare and beautiful black-and-white. Wikipedia summarizes the plot this way:
Set in Poland in 1962, it is about a young woman on the verge of taking vows as a Catholic nun. Orphaned as an infant during the German occupation of World War II, she must now meet her aunt. The former communist state prosecutor and only surviving relative tells her [about her parents]. The two women embark on a road trip into the Polish countryside to learn the fate of their family.
(I have omitted the substance of what the aunt said. You should rent the movie and hear it for yourself.)
Shimmering below the surface of this simple story are moments of stark visual beauty, themes that unfold slowly, slowly, and ideas as subtle as the play of light in the water of a clear stream. Past, present, and future swirl before our eyes. We see the small personal story of a broken family painted in the corner of a great mural that extends far outside the frame of the screen, but that we know portrays the horror and bloodshed of 20th-century Polish and European history. We see the tawdry reality of a corrupt, exhausted communist order and the hollow ideology that no one believes, not even those who repeat its dead rhetoric. We are invited to ponder the power of visual art, represented by a stained-glass window in a cowshed; the power of music, from Americanized Polish pop to American jazz (Coltrane) to Mozart (No. 41) and Bach; and the power of silence. We are asked to consider the meaning of religious faith in a secular world. The question at the end is whether Ida, having seen the outside world, will return on the convent and take her vows. She has an alternative. It comes in a lover's offer of walks on a beach, marriage, a home, a family, and a dog. "What then?" Ida asks.
Does great art make us better for having experienced it? Ida does, I think. See it and decide for yourself.
For another powerful movie about Polish nuns and the aftermath of World War II, see The Innocents (France, 2016). And for more on the destruction visited by the Stasi on the art, life, and humanity of East Germany, see The Lives of Others (Germany, 2016).
These pieces are important as art, not politics or ideology (the usual stuff of Unca D). Still, it must be said that embedded in each of these films is what Tom Stoppard -- himself an eastern European -- might call "small-c conservatism." Why this is so is the subject of a longer essay than I have the time or wit to write. It comes down to something like this: The failed utopian systems of the twentieth century were engines of death. What they tried to destroy, but could not, at least entirely, were family, tradition, culture, art, integrity, love, and Christian faith.