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The Nun's Story (1959)

Not Rated | | Drama | 18 July 1959 (USA)
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After leaving a wealthy Belgian family to become a nun, Sister Luke struggles with her devotion to her vows during crisis, disappointment, and World War II.

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Writers:

(screenplay), (book) (as Kathryn C. Hulme)
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Nominated for 8 Oscars. Another 11 wins & 15 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
Rev. Mother Emmanuel (Belgium) (as Dame Edith Evans)
...
Mother Mathilde (Africa) (as Dame Peggy Ashcroft)
...
Dr. Van Der Mal
...
Sister Margharita (Mistress of Postulants)
...
Mother Christophe (Sanatorium)
Patricia Collinge ...
Sister William (convent teacher)
Rosalie Crutchley ...
Sister Eleanor
...
Mother Marcella (School of Medicine)
...
Mother Didyma (War-time Hospital)
Margaret Phillips ...
Sister Pauline (medical student)
...
Simone (postulant who changed her mind)
...
Stephen Murray ...
Chaplain (Father Andre)
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Storyline

In 1930, in Belgium, Gabrielle van der Mal is the stubborn daughter of the prominent surgeon Dr. Pascin Van Der Mal that decides to leave her the upper-class family to enter to a convent, expecting to work as nun in Congo with tropical diseases. She says good-bye to her sisters Louise and Marie; to her brother Pierre; and to her beloved father, and subjects herself to the stringent rules of the retrograde institution, including interior silent and excessive humbleness and humiliation. After a long period working in a mental institution, Gaby is finally assigned to go to Congo, where she works with the Atheist and cynical, but brilliant, Dr. Fortunati. Sister Luke proves to be very efficient nurse and assistant, and Dr. Fortunati miraculous heals her tuberculosis. Years later, she is ordered to return to Belgium and when her motherland is invaded by the Germans, she learns that her beloved father was murdered by the enemy while he was helping wounded members of the resistance. Sister ... Written by Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

congo | nun | belgium | convent | nurse | See All (57) »

Taglines:

The most gripping and dramatic personal story of this decade is on the screen! See more »

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

18 July 1959 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Historia de una monja  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Budget:

$3,500,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound Recording)

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The role of Sister Luke was suggested for Ingrid Bergman but Bergman herself said she was too old for the role and instead proposed Audrey Hepburn. See more »

Goofs

In the scene where they are making their vows, the priest blesses each one in Latin. The formula should be "et Spiritus Sancti" and not "et Spiritus Sanctus." See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Narrator: "He that shall lose his life for me shall find it. If thou wilt be perfect, go sell what thou hast and give to the poor, and come follow me." Each sister shall understand that on entering the convent, she has made the sacrifice of her life to God.
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
A Very High-Quality Film
17 November 2009 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

I was amazed how a long, fairly slow film like this could capture and keep my attention all the way through.....but it did. This is really a quality film, as those who have seen it for years, will attest. It's so well done, in all phases, that when the two-and-a-half hours are up, you just marvel and what you've witnessed.

Anyone who has tried to live a perfect life, to please God and never offend Him with sins of any nature, knows it is impossible. It is a noble pursuit, but an exercise in futility that can lead to utter frustration. That is the dilemma we witness here in this film through the life of a well-meaning and sweet-as-can-be Belgian lady: "Gabrielle van der Mal" who is renamed "Sister Luke" after completing her training as a nun in the 1930s. Audrey Hepburn is superb as this woman, who has the greatest of spiritual intentions and a heart not only for God but to be a great nurse and follow in her father's footsteps, a famous physician in his country.

Can't she be both? The answer, of course, is "yes," but that's not the answer she receives periodically at the convent, or interprets because she's so tough on herself, and it causes great inner conflict.

Hepburn doesn't have tons of dialog in here and doesn't require it. The different looks on her face during this long story, especially when there is disappointment, are priceless. They are so subtle, but so telling. I am one who would vote for this film as Audrey's best performance, which is saying a lot.


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Message Boards

Recent Posts
Ever wanted to be a nun? NumberOnePhantomFan
Was the sanitarium stabbing ever in the film? sandfleas2008
Question about the baths...? gay_geisha
Where was she going to? imdbmovie
An interesting retrospective on being a nun Figaro14
Becoming a nun today... trish722
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