The Thorn Birds (1983)

TV Mini-Series  |   |  Drama
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This mini series covers 60 years in the lives of the Cleary family, brought from New Zealand to Australia to run their aunt Mary Carson's ranch. The story centers on their daughter, Meggie,... See full summary »

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1  
1983  
Won 4 Golden Globes. Another 11 wins & 17 nominations. See more awards »

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Actually taking place in the middle of the original Thorn Birds miniseries, which chronicled the love affair of Meggie Cleary and Fr. Ralph de Bricassart from 1920 to 1962, this two-part ... See full summary »

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Cast

Series cast summary:
...
 Ralph de Bricassart (4 episodes, 1983)
...
 Meggie Cleary (4 episodes, 1983)
...
...
 Luke O'Neill (4 episodes, 1983)
...
 Bob Cleary (4 episodes, 1983)
...
 Judy (4 episodes, 1983)
...
 Pete (4 episodes, 1983)
...
 Alastair MacQueen (4 episodes, 1983)
...
 Mary Carson (4 episodes, 1983)
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 Fiona 'Fee' Cleary (3 episodes, 1983)
...
 Anne Mueller (3 episodes, 1983)
...
 Luddie Mueller (3 episodes, 1983)
Philip Anglim ...
 Dane O'Neill (3 episodes, 1983)
John Friedrich ...
 Frank Cleary (3 episodes, 1983)
Stephen W. Burns ...
 Jack Cleary (3 episodes, 1983)
Bill Morey ...
 Angus MacQueen (3 episodes, 1983)
...
 Miss Carmichael (3 episodes, 1983)
...
 Mrs. Smith (3 episodes, 1983)
...
 Rainer Hartheim (2 episodes, 1983)
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 Paddy Cleary (2 episodes, 1983)
...
 Justine O'Neill (2 episodes, 1983)
Richard Venture ...
 Harry Gough (2 episodes, 1983)
...
 Stuart Cleary (2 episodes, 1983)
...
 Sarah MacQueen (2 episodes, 1983)
Chard Hayward ...
 Arne Swenson (2 episodes, 1983)
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Storyline

This mini series covers 60 years in the lives of the Cleary family, brought from New Zealand to Australia to run their aunt Mary Carson's ranch. The story centers on their daughter, Meggie, and her love for the family's priest, Father Ralph de Bricassart. Meggie tries to forget Ralph by marrying dashing stockman Luke O'Neill, but she and Ralph are soon reunited, with tragic consequences for them both. Written by Eric Sorensen <Eric_Sorensen@fc.mcps.k12.md.us>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Love unattainable. Forbidden forever. See more »

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

|

Language:

Release Date:

27 March 1983 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El pájaro espino  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

(DVD) | (TV)

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Tristan Rogers was heavily considered to play the role of Father Ralph. See more »

Goofs

When Mary Carson is discovered dead, you can see Barbara Stanwyck's chest moving as she continues to breathe. See more »

Quotes

Meggie Cleary: As for Ralph, he'll never know Dane's his, unless you tell him. And if you do, I warn you, I'll be as merciful to you, as you've always been to me!
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Keeping the Faith (2000) See more »

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User Reviews

 
The perfect unrequited love epic
27 October 2002 | by (Florida) – See all my reviews

For anyone who has suffered through the slings and arrows of outrageous misfortune in love, this 1983 mini-series will touch their hearts like no other film or TV series ever made. The casting was perfect in every way to bring the story of the Australian Cleary family to life so vividly (Jean Simmons as the mother "Fee" won the Emmy Award that year; unfortunately Henry Mancini didn't for his gorgeous musical score, and he deserved to win!).

While the main thrust of this story and film appears on the surface to be the love of a Roman Catholic priest for a young girl whom he sees grow into adulthood, the underlying, truly poignant aspect of this story is about the long-term effects of what happens to children when mothers love one child more than another. This theme is the real heart tugger here. Meggie is an afterthought to her mother Fee until the very end of the story (Frank is her favorite child, even though he is troubled, because Frank was the love child of a pre-marital affair), and later on when Meggie becomes a mother Dane is her favorite child (also a product of a clandestine love), and her daughter Justine is the afterthought.

It is this basic lack of love that each child feels from his or her mother that determines the choices they make in life (i.e. Meggie choses to love someone who cannot commit to her, Justine choses to avoid love altogether and throw herself into acting to escape reality, Frank goes off and kills a man because he cannot deal with loving his mother too much, Ralph reveals his mother abandoned him early so he too inclines towards a non-committal type of love with Meggie and escapes through the church, etc.)

The pattern develops early and continues throughout the lives of the Clearys. That is why, to me, the most profoundly moving scenes in this entire series are right near the end: 1) when the old Fee has to tell Meggie that her son Dane has died, and she caresses Meggie's face for the first time in both their lives, and 2) the scene in the stable barn, between Meggie and Justine, as they confront the truth: that Meggie does love Justine, but Dane WAS the favorite child, for reasons beyond Justine's control. In hugging Fee and crying in grief, and in resolving her differences with Justine, Meggie finally finds the peace she needs in life; she is then able to let go of Ralph when the inevitable takes him from her for good.


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