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Magdalene (1988)

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Father Joseph Mohr, a newly appointed priest in the town of Oberndorf (near Salzburg), meets the beautiful prostitute Magdalene. He struggles to change her situation and make a new life for... See full summary »



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Title: Magdalene (1988)

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Baron von Seidl
Günter Meisner ...
Cyrus Elias ...
Katharina Böhm ...
Ferdy Mayne ...
Father Noessler
William Carr Hickey ...
Janet Agren ...
Max Tidof ...
Karina Szulc ...
Ralf Weikinger ...
Ulrich Günther ...


Father Joseph Mohr, a newly appointed priest in the town of Oberndorf (near Salzburg), meets the beautiful prostitute Magdalene. He struggles to change her situation and make a new life for her, and while doing so, they fall in love. Mohr struggles with his feelings for her, versus his commitment to God. Meanwhile, the Prior, Mohr's superior, whose corrupt dealings with the Baron von Seidl are threatened by Mohr's integrity and honesty, works (unsuccessfully) to falsely accuse Mohr of sexual misconduct with Magdalene, and thereby remove him from office. Meanwhile, Mohr and local schoolteacher Franz Gruber compose the hymn "Silent Night". Written by Brian C. Madsen <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


When temptation breaks all the rules. See more »


Drama | Romance


PG | See all certifications »





Release Date:

25 November 1989 (South Korea)  »

Also Known As:

Silent Night  »

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User Reviews

historical fiction
19 August 2003 | by (Los Angeles, California) – See all my reviews

Major spoiler: wild speculation and analysis

This is a costume drama set sometime after 1819 in either Germany or Austria. The protagonist in the movie is Joseph Mohr who actually lived and was the composer of "Silent Night." It is apparent from the beginning that "Magdalene" was a low budget movie that seems to have a fictional theme attached to the real life Joseph Mohr, a poet, who was ordained as a priest in 1815. 1816 is the actual date of the composition of a poem entitled "Silent Night" that was determined via a newly discovered manuscript in Mohr's handwriting in 1995. The actual music was written by Franz Gruber on Christmas eve 1818. Sometime between 1819 and 1821, Mohr wrote out an arrangement of the now, famous carol. So that this movie has to have a historical setting after 1819. "Magdalene" is fictional and it is difficult to see any real relationship between her and the Christmas carol, "Silent Night." Of course, the title role is played by Nastassja Kinski who must have taken on this role because she found something of importance in that role. The film and story is a device via Monica Teuber, the director, to lay out some obvious commentary about the Catholic church's hypocrisy of the time. One of the plot lines of the movie is that Joseph Mohr is a newly ordained priest receiving his first parish and that the powers that be in a small town do not want the money apple cart upset by an idealistic, radical thinking priest. So that the plot is how to get Mohr out of town and maintain status quo. There are the usual tough questions that have no answers such as: why does God allow bad things to happen to poor people? Nastassja, in the role of Magdalene, is a whore who is saved from her life by Fr. Mohr. The major plot line then goes something like this: girl meets boy, girl falls for boy, boy finds said girl attractive, then what is the resolution of this situation? With the somber mood of the picture, the ending of the movie is pre-ordained. Poor Fr. Mohr is torn between the affections of Magdalene and God. It doesn't take a genius to figure out who wins that battle. Almost immediately with the introduction of the Magdalene character one cannot help but think of Mary Magdalene and her interaction with Jesus. This idea is later set in concrete as Mary Magdalene, being a sinner, is directly mentioned in the movie. The Mohr character is played by a somewhat handsome actor, Steve Bond. After all, Magdalene and Nastassja can't fall for some ugly fellow. The plot to get rid of Fr. Mohr in this movie hinges upon the immediate superior over Mohr obtaining a false, signed confession from Magdalene saying that she has slept with Mohr and hence violated his oath of celibacy. As usual, Nastassja portrays a very strong female lead who would rather die than sign such a lie. One memorable scene has Mohr's conniving superior asking Magdalene, point blank, whether she has slept with Fr. Mohr. Her answer is interesting: No, but if he had asked me, I would have. One can just imagine the real Mary Magdalene uttering such lines when queried about her relationship with Jesus. I cannot write definitively because I haven't seen all of Nastassja's movies, but there is one scene that she is nearly hysterical as she blurts out her past history as being raped at 12 and then sold off into a brothel later on. I have the feeling that there was no ad-libbing possible in this movie and what one sees on screen was what the director wanted and got. By no means, is this a notable movie with the bad guys looking bad and one with a bad haircut to boot, Nastassja in 20th century makeup, and Fr. Mohr with a nice 20th century hairdo of his own.

The question then becomes, why should one watch this movie with its inevitable ending? Big hint: God wins out. The movie certainly lacks visual style. It is not that some other actress could not have pulled off this role. Towards the end of the movie there is one scene in which Magdalene, through a cast iron fence, is playing for the heart of Fr. Mohr. A conversation ensues with glances between the two principals. He, of course, is torn between Magdalene and his duty as a priest of God. It is not much of a stretch to compare this scene with a similar scene in Casablanca between Ilsa and Rick. It is difficult to conceive of any actress playing the role of Ilsa as done by Ingrid Bergman, but one that comes to mind would be Nastassja Kinski. The result is that one might conclude that this is the closest that anyone will ever see Nastassja playing that luminous role of Ilsa in "Casablanca." Nastassja does have a problem, though, because "Magdalene" did not have the technical resources of Warner Brothers when "Casablanca" was filmed. And this is the only reason to see the picture, in my humble opinion. Not that this scene was overwhelming because it certainly was not. Long out of print, this movie can still be found on VHS tape. For Nastassja fans, I think that this scene is a must see, if only once. It is available on DVD, but not in region 1, and the transfer is awful and more than matches the dreadful film.

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