7.6/10
9,475
100 user 29 critic

The Nun's Story (1959)

Not Rated | | Drama | 18 July 1959 (USA)
Trailer
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)
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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Taglines:

From the most dramatic best seller of this decade! See more »

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

One of the assistant directors on this film was Sergio Leone. Despite his very limited command of English (though fluent in French), his experience and reputation on previous American productions made him one of the highest paid assistant directors. See more »

Goofs

When Audrey Hepburn is kneeling in the chapel, about to be received as a Novice, while the camera is focused on her face it is obvious she is wearing eye makeup. Any form of makeup is strictly forbidden. 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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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

 
A Very High-Quality Film
17 November 2009 | by ccthemovieman-1See all my reviews

I was amazed how a long, fairly slow film like this could capture and keep my attention all the way through.....but it did. This is really a quality film, as those who have seen it for years, will attest. It's so well done, in all phases, that when the two-and-a-half hours are up, you just marvel and what you've witnessed.

Anyone who has tried to live a perfect life, to please God and never offend Him with sins of any nature, knows it is impossible. It is a noble pursuit, but an exercise in futility that can lead to utter frustration. That is the dilemma we witness here in this film through the life of a well-meaning and sweet-as-can-be Belgian lady: "Gabrielle van der Mal" who is renamed "Sister Luke" after completing her training as a nun in the 1930s. Audrey Hepburn is superb as this woman, who has the greatest of spiritual intentions and a heart not only for God but to be a great nurse and follow in her father's footsteps, a famous physician in his country.

Can't she be both? The answer, of course, is "yes," but that's not the answer she receives periodically at the convent, or interprets because she's so tough on herself, and it causes great inner conflict.

Hepburn doesn't have tons of dialog in here and doesn't require it. The different looks on her face during this long story, especially when there is disappointment, are priceless. They are so subtle, but so telling. I am one who would vote for this film as Audrey's best performance, which is saying a lot.


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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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