It is the early 1960s in Poland, and novice nun Anna is about to take her vows, but before she does so the Mother Superior tells her she must visit her aunt Wanda. Anna does not want to go, but she does. Wanda lives in a totally different world from Anna, loving smoking, drinking, jazz and lots of men. Wanda tells Anna that her real name is Ida, that she is actually Jewish and that her parents were killed during World War Two. So begins the journey to find out what happened and where they are buried, a journey which will have major consequences for both women. The two women live in such different worlds. Wanda is fascinated and frustrated by Ida’s choice of lifestyle.
It is very difficult to portray Christianity on screen. At times all that comes across is what is given up, a series of ‘Don’ts.’ A kind of lifestyle deprived of things. Wanda feels that Anna is missing out, even though Wanda herself is actually desperately unhappy in her lifestyle. The Ten Commandments, often seen as a list of Don’ts, were about God showing a group of people who had been treated as objects all their lives, what really mattered, what made for healthy living, for full life. A life made richer by His presence with us and within us. And that is hard to put on screen. Jesus promised a fullness of life and lived it out. His stories are full of comedy and the unexpected, he got into trouble for attending the wrong kind of parties and befriending the wrong kind of people. He brought life, colour and hope to lives trapped in a kind of black and white imprisonment. In his manifesto he said he had come to open eyes and prison doors, to set all kinds of captives free. He himself struggled to help people see this new kind of kingdom. He constantly used stories, saying it was like this, like that. There is no full representation of God’s bright, colourful world on this planet, so he used analogies, metaphors and parables.
So it’s no wonder that it is hard to portray this on screen. I sometimes think of the kingdom of God as being like one of those Magic Eye or Stereogram pictures, when you take a cursory look at it you cannot see the full depth, experience the full picture, it is only with a sense of commitment, as you plunge yourself into it, that the full picture comes alive and becomes three dimensional. What is hidden becomes clear. Buried treasure is unearthed.