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Mother Joan of the Angels (1961)

Matka Joanna od Aniolów (original title)
A priest is sent to a small parish in the Polish countryside which is believed to be under demonic possession and there he finds his own temptations awaiting.

Director:

Jerzy Kawalerowicz

Writers:

Jaroslaw Iwaszkiewicz (novel), Tadeusz Konwicki (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
Reviews
1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Lucyna Winnicka ... Mother Joan of the Angels
Mieczyslaw Voit ... Father Jozef Suryn / Rabbi
Anna Ciepielewska ... Sister Malgorzata / Margareth
Maria Chwalibóg ... Antosia / Girl at the Inn
Kazimierz Fabisiak ... Father Brym
Stanislaw Jasiukiewicz ... Chrzaszczewski / Squire
Zygmunt Zintel ... Wincenty Wolodkowicz / Innkeeper
Jerzy Kaczmarek Jerzy Kaczmarek ... Kaziuk
Franciszek Pieczka ... Odryn
Jaroslaw Kuszewski Jaroslaw Kuszewski ... Juraj
Lech Wojciechowski ... Piatkowski
Marian Nosek Marian Nosek ... Dominican Priest
Jerzy Walden Jerzy Walden ... Dominican Priest
Marian Nowak Marian Nowak
Zygmunt Malawski ... Exorcist
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Storyline

Set in the 17th century. A convent in a small town is being visited by high-ranking Catholic official trying to exorcise the nun supposedly posessed by demons. A local priest have been burnt for creating this condition by sexual temptation of the nuns, especially the Mother superior who bring on the collective hysteria of the group. There is another young priest who is to help with the exorcism. His first meeting with the convent head, Mother Joanne of the Angels, has her seemingly posessed by Satan - she yells blasphemies and incites the priest. She begs the priest to save her and to help her to be a saint. Written by Polish Cinema Database <http://info.fuw.edu.pl/Filmy/>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama | Horror | Mystery

Certificate:

See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Poland

Language:

Polish | Latin

Release Date:

9 February 1961 (Poland) See more »

Also Known As:

Mother Joan of the Angels See more »

Filming Locations:

Józefów, Lódzkie, Poland

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Based on the same 17th century historical incident that was also the basis for Ken Russell's "The Devils". See more »

Quotes

Father Jozef Suryn: All redemption is in love. Love is as strong as death.
See more »

Connections

Version of The Bloody Judge (1970) See more »

Soundtracks

Theme Music
Performed by the Polish Radio Choirs
Conducted by Tadeusz Dobrzanski
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Amazing and obscure horror gem
23 January 2015 | by Milo-JeederSee all my reviews

Directed by Jerzy Kawalerowicz and inspired by the (presumably) real case of the "Loudun Possessions", the story of "Mother Joan of the Angels" is set on the seventeenth century, in a small village in Poland. There, a priest known as Jozef Suryn (Mieczyslaw Voit ) is sent to a convent, to help a group of nuns, who have been suffering from demonic possessions, especially Mother Joan (Lucyna Winnicka). As soon as Jozef meets Mother Joan, she threatens him with her diabolic voice and tells him that it won't be easy to cast the demons away and that she's not afraid of him. From that moment on, Father Jozef finds himself fighting and struggling to help the poor Mother Joan and cast the evil forces away.

This films offers the classic "good vs. evil" battle, by showing common places, such as the evil woman and the courageous man who fights against all odds, risking his own life, because he's so kind-hearted that he feels compelled to save the ill-fated woman. These archetypes are mostly shown in the two main characters (Jozef and Mother Joan), although these two are not the only ones. The rest of the nuns, for example, look eerie and unsettling throughout most of the film. There's something strangely disturbing about the nuns in this film, something about the way they move and the look in their eyes, which combines numbness and malevolence at the same time.

"Mother Joan of the Angels" is a film that probably doesn't have much of a scare value compared to the newer films, but I would like to think that anyone who has a little bit of patience and doesn't expect gore and explicit violence, will be able to appreciate it for what it is. This type of horror is not for everybody but there's a lot of things that make this film very dark and powerful. While the new audiences would probably disagree with me, I think this film is not as slow-paced as it looks, judging by the first minutes. As I mentioned before, the key is to have a little patience, allow the character development, until reaching the well-awaited climax.

Visually speaking, "Mother Joan of the Angels" is pretty much flawless. Thought there aren't any amazing special effects, the shots, the setting and the contrasting photography create a very dark atmosphere, which is reminiscent of a dream-like sequence. There's something strange about this film: on the one hand, it is unsettling and dark, but there's also something very soothing about it. I'm not sure if it's the beautiful landscapes, the fact that it is black and white, the long philosophical dialogs or maybe all of those things combined.

The acting is mostly perfect, especially the main actress, Lucyna Winnicka, who manages to convey the poor innocent woman and the evil woman at the same time, without looking campy. Her expressions, her body language, her voice and the way she moves is impressive. I am not easily scared, but I will say that I was very impressed with the scenes involving "evil" Mother Joan. As for the male lead, there's really nothing to complain, as he delivers a perfectly believable character, but simply not as memorable as his female counterpart. As a matter of fact, I was pleasantly surprised by how good were most of the actors, as I was expecting something overly histrionic and more campy.


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