Ida, the Polish film about Anna, a young novitiate nun is a triumph in visual storytelling, evidenced by its Oscar nominations for Best Foreign Language Film and Best Cinematography. There's so much to be said about the film's incredible visual style, from its use of black and white to its 1:33 aspect ratio, but there's much more that adds weight and substance to the story.
The filmmakers' clever use of costuming, use of color, and framing allows Anna's story to unfold in subtle, unconventional ways, making her inner battle of finding her identity both a delicate and powerful experience. These aspects and more are analyzed in this intriguing video essay by Steven Vredenburgh.
As beautifully composed as Ida is, framing was clearly not the only cinematic method used by director Pawel Pawlikowski and DPs Ryszard Lenczewski and Lukasz Zal to communicate Anna's struggle to find herself. Lighting, costuming, makeup, aspect ratio -- they all work together to speak to your audience. It's an important lesson to learn, as filmmakers, that we have more tools at our disposal than we think we have to construct the stories we want to tell.