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The Magdalene Sisters (2002)

R | | Drama | 29 August 2003 (USA)
1:20 | Trailer

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Three young Irish women struggle to maintain their spirits while they endure dehumanizing abuse as inmates of a Magdalene Sisters Asylum.



Nominated for 1 BAFTA Film Award. Another 18 wins & 14 nominations. See more awards »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Britta Smith ...
Frances Healy ...
Sister Jude
Eithne McGuinness ...
Sister Clementine
Sister Augusta (as Phyllis McMahon)
Rebecca Walsh ...
Brendan (as Chris Simpson)
Sean Colgan ...
Daniel Costello ...
Father Fitzroy


A thoroughly mind-provoking film about 3 young women who, under tragic circumstances, see themselves cast away to a Magdalene Asylum for young women in 1964. One of many like institutions, the asylums are run like prisons and young girls are forced to do workhouse laundry and hard labor. The asylum, one of many that existed in theocratic Catholic Ireland, is for supposedly 'fallen' women. Here, young girls are imprisoned indefinitely and endure agonizing punishments and a long, harsh working system which leaves them physically drained and mentally damaged. As the girls bond together, it soon becomes clear that the only way out of the Magdalene convent is to escape, but with twisted Sister Bridget running the wing, any chances seem limited... Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


In a place that defied belief their only hope was each other. See more »



Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for violence/cruelty, nudity, sexual content and language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:







Release Date:

29 August 2003 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Die unbarmherzigen Schwestern  »


Box Office

Opening Weekend:

£88,315 (United Kingdom), 1 November 2002, Limited Release

Opening Weekend USA:

$84,553, 3 August 2003, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$4,890,878, 23 November 2003

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$15,722,258, 6 November 2003
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


Peter Mullan has said that the film was initially made because victims of Magdalene Asylums had no closure. They hadn't received any recognition, compensation, or apology. Many remained lifelong devout Catholics. See more »


When Margaret's brother shows up to take his sister home, he not only knows his way around the facility, but knows exactly which room everyone is in, despite having never set foot in the place. See more »


[first lines]
Margaret: Well, what is it you're wanting to show me? Come on, Kevin, what's the secret?
See more »

Crazy Credits

Thanks to ... Andy and Marco at Edit-Hire Post Production Services ... all at the Glasgow Film Theatre ... Lee at Lynx ... all the gardeners ... the people of Dumfries ... and all at VFG. See more »


References Once Upon a Time in America (1984) See more »


God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
Traditional Christmas carol
Sung off-screen by an unidentified man (possibly Ford Kiernan) with chorus
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User Reviews

The nuns in this film never sang 'How do solve a Problem Like Maria?'
26 April 2004 | by See all my reviews

Their idea of problem solving was more based on the Marque de Sade's idea of fun. If you are in the mood for sadism and horror...this is the film for you!!

I could not imagine that such a place as the laundry run by The Order of Magdelene Sisters could exist until I saw this film. The four girls that the story focused on Rose, Bernadette, Margaret and Crispina existed. I have been to Ireland and seen the beauty of that country. I once envied the life of those lucky enough to live there. I don't any longer.

The movie does not attack the Catholic faith so much as give a mindset of the 1960's in Ireland. My word here in the USA hippies were making love not war and these poor girls were only being human beings. I don't like to share the details of a film, but consider that one girl was an orphan and sent to the Magdelene's because she liked to flirt!! One was sent because she was raped!! My goodness, how barbaric can people be? film. And these people were nuns and priests for heaven's sake. Ah and let me not forget the parents who sent their daughters to that place. I will never complain about my parents again. Promise.

Please watch this film.

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