A young boy arrives in the city to live with his aunt and continue his education. Aunt Idalia (Komorowska) is a determined non-conformist with a passion for riding, not exactly a recreation encouraged in Eastern bloc Europe. She and her renegade old friends seek relief from their drab lives by going for exhilarating gallops in the country. Nothing, not even tanks or stone throwing villagers, puts them off. Zanussi's autobiographical drama unfolds in the Poland of the early 1950s. Although it portrays a grim, bureaucratic society in which even schoolboys denounce each other and every sign of bourgeois individualism is frowned upon, it's also surprisingly witty and uplifting. Magnificently shot, and with an outrageously inventive ending, it belies its director's reputation as a film-maker who privileges ideas over emotions.
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