5.4/10
314
10 user 9 critic

The Nun and the Devil (1973)

Le monache di Sant'Arcangelo (original title)
Kingdom of Naples, 1577: The Roman Inquisition and the witch hunt are in force and torture is authorized in the trials, while the people live in misery and fear. The handsome Spanish ... See full summary »

Director:

Domenico Paolella (as Paolo Dominici)

Writers:

Tonino Cervi (dialogue), Tonino Cervi (screenplay) | 3 more credits »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Anne Heywood ... Mother Giulia
Luc Merenda ... Carafo
Ornella Muti ... Isabella
Martine Brochard ... Chiara
Muriel Catalá Muriel Catalá ... Agnes
Claudia Gravy ... Carmela
Maria Cumani Quasimodo ... Lavinia
Pier Paolo Capponi ... Don Carlos
Claudio Gora ... Cardinal d'Arezzo
Duilio Del Prete ... Pietro
Luigi Antonio Guerra Luigi Antonio Guerra ... (as Luigi Guerra)
Gianluigi Chirizzi Gianluigi Chirizzi ... Fernando
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Storyline

Kingdom of Naples, 1577: The Roman Inquisition and the witch hunt are in force and torture is authorized in the trials, while the people live in misery and fear. The handsome Spanish nobleman Don Carlos enjoyed it in the convent of Sant'Arcangelo di Baiano, satisfying his eroticism with Sister Giulia di Mondragone, a powerful ecclesiastic who aspired to the title of abbess of the convent. Having evaluated the power of Don Carlos, Giulia tries to please him, while other sisters, especially Sister Carmela, plot against her as interested in the coveted title of abbess. Giulia offers herself on several occasions to Don Carlos, despite being a lesbian and eager to be alone with her sweetheart: Sister Chiara. Giulia pleases Don Carlos even when he asks her to spend a night of love with the beautiful young Sister Isabella, Giulia's niece, forced against her will to take the monastic vows but, in reality, very much in love with a boy from the country 'origin. Considering that the current ...

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

In the convent of St. Archangel, there is a struggle for lust & love.

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

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Parents Guide:

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Details

Country:

France | Italy

Language:

Italian

Release Date:

25 January 1973 (Italy) See more »

Also Known As:

Innocents from Hell See more »

Filming Locations:

Cinecitta, Rome, Italy

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

(cut)

Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Sound System)

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Italian censorship visa # 61797 delivered on 24-1-1973. See more »

Alternate Versions

Restored version: Argent Films DVD release as The Nun And The Devil is the longest available version at 99min 20 secs (in PAL): it is re-edited from Italian masters materials with an English soundtrack. See more »

Connections

Followed by Story of a Cloistered Nun (1973) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Jacobean romantic classic?

The obvious film to compare this to is Ken Russell's 'The Devils'. Both films are explorations of cloister depravity and resulting inquisitions. Neither are exploitation movies. 'The Devils' didn't really try and be erotic, it was more a portrait of human insanity from a spiritual dark age. 'Monache di Sant'Arcangelo' has higher moral currency because it is a purposeful exploration of the subjugation of women. There's erotic value of course, but it's not gratuitous. The suppression of human sexuality can of course be used as fodder for Women-In-Prison movies or nunsploitation but also polemically. There is a lot of scope in such movies as this, one example I have seen championed is Jesus Franco's 'Love Letters of a Portuguese Nun' (1977) which is a criticism of Catholic patriarchy. Basically the movie says that the convents are used to house affluent undesirables and heaps upon the hypocrisy of the Cardinal and his vicar. Not that I would say any of the political comment in this movie is particularly trenchant.

Whilst I'm sure that such polemic was one of the main aims of the film, the main success is to be found in the love stories. Indeed it wouldn't surprise me if this movie became some sort of lesbian underground hit, because the dynamics of the relationships in the movie are quite well done. Sister Chiara's obsessive love for example for Mother Julia is very carefully studied: After Chiara is given the cold shoulder in favour of the young initiate Agnes, she takes to self-mutilation and writing poison pen letters about the nunnery to His Eminence. When they are back together again Chiara, even though she realises that the resurrected relationship is likely to be due to Julia's fear of blackmail is content to live the lie. It's clear to me though that Mother Julia felt much regret over her abandonment of Chiara, when they are back together she tenderly kisses the scars on Chiara's knees that were caused by her purposefully kneeling on broken glass. In another scene she feels remorse when she sees that Chiara has deliberately cut herself on the thorns of a bunch of roses. She is also unable to tolerate the torture of her lover. Basically it's the sapphic romance of the movie that really works well. As laudable as the politics of the film are that part of the director's vision lacked pathos. Basically the men in the movie deliver their lines flatly and the scriptwriter didn't appear to have any passion for the politics of the period.

It's always intrigued me to see relationships unimpinged by hidden breeder agendas, to look at unhinged love. This film provides ample opportunity.

It might be of interest to readers to look at the structure of the film, it is really rather like a Jacobean tragedy in many respects. We have the gratuitous and unexpected murder of Pietro, we have the Machiavellian political powerplays and joustings, the immorality of the cast - principally Don Carlos - and the scenes of torture. And then there is the protagonist's monologue, this time delivered by Julia to the inquisitorial priests, quite similar to the repentance of d'Amville from Cyril Tourneur's Jacobean play 'The Atheist's Tragedy'.

'Monache di Sant'Arcangelo' lacks great production values for me. Others will say that they are a cut above other nunsploitation movies and they are right. However this movie is still pretty unpolished compared to other period movies even though it tries very hard. This won't matter to you too much if you are interested in this film because of the dynamics of the relationships. In that sense it is successful as, say, Fassbinder's 'The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant'.

I can't give the movie higher than 7/10 however because some of the major set pieces, like a poor soufflé, fail to rise to the occasion.


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