Zanussi has described the film as his most autobiographical work. A young boy in post-World War II, Communist-dominated Poland, whose father's decision to remain in Britain after the war has made his family politically-suspect with the local Party authorities, is sent by his mother to stay with an "aunt" in the capital, Warsaw. Ida is a strong-willed, single, middle-aged woman who has found her own ways of surviving in the Communist-run society. She gets Hubert admitted to one of the city's best schools by portraying him as the orphan of a war hero. But she also shares with him her own passion for horses, at a time when riding is seen by many officials as a relic of the old aristocratic class. Hubert himself, meanwhile, struggles to understand how it can be right for a good Catholic to lie in order to survive under Communism.
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