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Mother Joan of the Angels (1961)
"Matka Joanna od aniolów" (original title)

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A priest is sent to a small parish in the Polish countryside which is believed to be under demonic possession and there he finds his own temptations awaiting.



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Lucyna Winnicka ...
Mieczyslaw Voit ...
Father Jozef Suryn / Rabbi
Sister Malgorzata / Margareth
Maria Chwalibóg ...
Antosia / Girl at the Inn
Kazimierz Fabisiak ...
Father Brym
Stanislaw Jasiukiewicz ...
Chrzaszczewski / Squire
Zygmunt Zintel ...
Wincenty Wolodkowicz / Innkeeper
Jerzy Kaczmarek ...
Jaroslaw Kuszewski ...
Lech Wojciechowski ...
Marian Nosek ...
Dominican Priest
Jerzy Walden ...
Dominican Priest
Marian Nowak
Zygmunt Malawski ...


Set in the 17th century. A convent in a small town is being visited by high-ranking Catholic official trying to exorcise the nun supposedly posessed by demons. A local priest have been burnt for creating this condition by sexual temptation of the nuns, especially the Mother superior who bring on the collective hysteria of the group. There is another young priest who is to help with the exorcism. His first meeting with the convent head, Mother Joanne of the Angels, has her seemingly posessed by Satan - she yells blasphemies and incites the priest. She begs the priest to save her and to help her to be a saint. To help her, he kills two innocent people to be forever a prey of the devil and thus allow her freedom. Written by Polish Cinema Database <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | Horror | Mystery


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Release Date:

9 February 1961 (Poland)  »

Also Known As:

Joan of the Angels?  »

Filming Locations:

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


Father Jozef Suryn: All redemption is in love. Love is as strong as death.
See more »


Version of The Devils (1971) See more »


Theme Music
Performed by the Polish Radio Choirs
Conducted by Tadeusz Dobrzanski
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User Reviews

Complex and courageous
16 March 2015 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

In what could be viewed as a sequel to Ken Russell's The Devils (1970), Jerzy Kawalerowicz's bleak but brilliant drama tells the infamous story of the so-called 'Loudon Possessions', in which a convent of nuns were said to have been possessed by a variety of demons, seducing men and indulging in sinful activities while the Church sent priests to exorcise them. It resulted in the death of French Catholic priest Urbain Grandier, who was burned at the stake after suggestions were made that he had succumbed to evil himself, forging a 'diabolical pact' that bound his soul to the Devil. It's an event that has caught the imagination of many artists, including the aforementioned Russell, as well as Aldous Huxley. but never has it been portrayed with such terrifying foreboding as in Mother Joan of the Angels.

Father Suryn (Mieczyslaw Voit) is sent to a Polish convent in the seventeenth century, where talk amongst the sparse townsfolk are of the wicked acts committed by the nuns of the convent that looms over the town like a ghost. At the head of this apparent possession is Mother Joan (Lucyna Winnicka), who tells Suryn of the fate of the previous priest, whose charred remains still lie at the burning post. Suryn is so horrified by what he sees as the purest of evils that he promises to rid Joan of her affliction, even if it is at the expense of his own soul, becoming a martyr in the fight against Satan's influence.

The picture is black and white and the cinematography is dark and empty, capturing the hopelessness of this small, insignificant and nameless town. It resembles the minimalistic work of Ingmar Bergman and Carl Theodor Dreyer, and shares many of the conflicted representations of religion that frequented the auteur's back catalogue. The film occasionally branches out into horror, with close-ups and shadows used to powerful effect as Satan's influence creeps into Suryn's soul, leading him to reach out in desperation to a rabbi in what is one of the film's most powerful scenes. It's also a twisted love story between Joan and Suryn, transcending mere desire into something deeper and unspoken. Complex and courageous, Kawalerowicz's film will most likely always be overshadowed by Russell's more provocative work, but this is one of the finest works to come out of 60's Poland.

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