It's a freezing early winter morning on the Warsaw estate where Pavel (Klata), an intelligent boy approaching teenage, and his lecturer father (Baranowski) are playing with computers. Using a scientific formula, they input the recent ground temperatures, which confirms the safety of the ice on the nearby ponds; and thus reassured, father allows Pavel to have his Christmas present (a pair of ice skates) early. That day, Pavel's pleasure in his intellectual accomplishments is tempered by the sadness he feels about a dead dog; and prompted by the Catholic talk of his beloved aunt (Komorowska), he is moved to question his father on the nature of the soul. 'Why' he asks, 'do people have to die at all?'. Kieslowski's moving drama unfolds with all the force of a metaphysical ghost story as the father, having heard that three children are feared dead on the ponds, begins a frenetic search to locate his son. The performances and direction are calibrated to perfection; the result is a film of shattering insight, laced with black humour and savage irony.