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The Nun's Story (1959)

Not Rated | | Drama | 18 July 1959 (USA)
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3:12 | Trailer
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.

Director:

Fred Zinnemann

Writers:

Robert Anderson (screenplay), Kathryn Hulme (book) (as Kathryn C. Hulme)
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Popularity
4,729 ( 3,593)
Nominated for 8 Oscars. Another 11 wins & 16 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Audrey Hepburn ... Sister Luke (Gabrielle van der Mal)
Peter Finch ... Dr. Fortunati
Edith Evans ... Rev. Mother Emmanuel (Belgium) (as Dame Edith Evans)
Peggy Ashcroft ... Mother Mathilde (Africa) (as Dame Peggy Ashcroft)
Dean Jagger ... Dr. van der Mal
Mildred Dunnock ... Sister Margharita (Mistress of Postulants)
Beatrice Straight ... Mother Christophe (Sanatorium)
Patricia Collinge ... Sister William (Convent Teacher)
Rosalie Crutchley ... Sister Eleanor
Ruth White ... Mother Marcella (School of Medicine)
Barbara O'Neil ... Mother Didyma (Wartime Hospital)
Margaret Phillips ... Sister Pauline (Medical Student)
Patricia Bosworth ... Simone (Postulant who changed her mind)
Colleen Dewhurst ... Archangel Gabriel (Sanatorium)
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. Hubert 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

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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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Did You Know?

Trivia

The only Best Picture Oscar nominee not nominated in either of the support acting categories that year. See more »

Goofs

When the patient in the Congo hospital is being attended by several people, the voice of the actor playing the patient is obviously dubbed over by actor Dean Jagger, who plays Sister Luke's father in the film. 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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Connections

Referenced in The Mary Tyler Moore Show: Almost a Nun's Story (1973) See more »

Soundtracks

Voi Che Sapete
from "The Marriage of Figaro"
Written by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (as W. A. Mozart)
Played by Gabi and her father on the piano, and recurring throughout the film's score.
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User Reviews

 
It deserves to be more seen by the current public.
28 June 2016 | by filipemanuelnetoSee all my reviews

This film shows the life of a Belgian nun, from the moment she enter to the convent and through successive crises of vocation and a mission in Belgian Congo. Directed by Fred Zinnemann, the film has a screenplay by Robert Anderson, based on a fictional novel by Kathryn Hulme. The cast is led by Audrey Hepburn, in the lead role.

Despite having been nominated for eight Oscars (Best Picture, Best Actress, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Sound, Best Cinematography Color, Best Soundtrack and Best Editing), this film has been ignored by people over the last few decades, which makes it probably one of the most unknown movies in Hepburn's career. Of course, many people think, reading the title, this film is pure Catholic propaganda, and maybe that's why its not widely spoken. But its far from propaganda, despite showing, with accuracy, the modus vivendi of the nuns in the beginning of the last century. Keep track of time is very important to understand the film, which passes through in the end of World War II, and also helps to understand one thing that the film doesn't say but any person will notice quickly: the way of life that the nuns of this film lead fell into disuse for decades ago, due to the massive modernization that the Catholic Church suffered.

The script is excellent, though not (as some people think) a true story. Much of the film is fiction inspired by real facts, but fiction. Its a history of sacrifice, overcoming, love to a vocation and a profession: medicine, that the young nun exercises as religious. But its also a film about doubts, inner conflicts and people trying to be better by facing their failures and humanity. Audrey Hepburn shone as Gabrielle/Sister Luke, her beautiful face gave her an almost angelic appearance and a truly powerful presence on screen. The way she counter-acts with Peter Finch, who played a doctor in Congo, with very specific ideas and almost devoid of faith, its delicious. The scenarios are very good, recreating well the religious ambiance and the almost savage Africa, that Europeans pioneered in those years.

The end of the film is one of the most amazing I've seen, mainly for two reasons: First, its absolutely silent, having no music; second, after seeing this nun suffer so much by her dreams, its impossible for her not to win the public's affection, so the end becomes difficult to accept for the public.

Decidedly, this film is worthy and deserves to be seen more often by the current public.


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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

18 July 1959 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Nun's Story See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$3,500,000 (estimated)
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Company Credits

Production Co:

Warner Bros. See more »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound Recording)

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
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