When a dead newborn is found, wrapped in bloody sheets, in the bedroom wastebasket of a young novitiate, psychiatrist Martha Livingston is called in to determine if the seemingly innocent novice, who knows nothing of sex or birth, is competent enough to stand trial for the murder of the baby. While searching for the answer that her supervisors want, Dr. Livingston finds herself inevitably drawn into searching for the truth about the baby's conception and death. Despite the lack of cooperation that she receives from her own organization and the church itself, she eventually discovers more than she may have bargained for.Written by
Director Norman Jewison and cinematographer Sven Nykvist not only used the Rockwood Academy former school's old main building and barn for filming but used the rest of the property as well. See more »
During the most profound scene where Agnes receives the stigmata, the audio boom is visible for at least five seconds. See more »
Doctor Martha Livingston:
I don't know the meaning behind the song she sang. Perhaps it was a song of seduction, and the father was a field hand. Perhaps the song was simply a lullaby she remembered from many years ago, and the father was hope, and love, and desire and a belief in miracles. I want to believe that she was blessed. And I do miss her. And I hope she's left something; some little part of herself with me. That would be miracle enough, wouldn't it?
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The incredible performance by Meg Tilly is what makes this movie repeatedly watchable. She seems almost possessed by this role and entirely believable. She makes the innocent, spiritual and fantasy like world that this strange young nun lives in, appealing. One can find yourself almost being envious of the purity of the world that Agnes experiences. The performances of Jane Fonda and Anne Bancroft are also very good. The debate and tension that flows between them is interesting as each forces the other to take a deeper look at themselves, their pasts and to confront the reasons for their chosen paths in life. Also these women represent the two sides of one of the main dilemmas in the film and the one that we the viewers are left to wrestle with. Is Agnes better off in her cloistered, innocent world where Mother Miriam wants to keep her or would it be better for her to become more aware of the realities of the outside world with all it's diversity and possibilities that Doctor Martha Livingston thinks she should know. The tension between these two characters is not without it's humorous moments as well. It's never easy for a psychological drama to have to sort out the inner darkness of a troubled individual in the course of a two hour film but this one does better than most. Those that need answers spelled out plain, simple and clear cut are of course frustrated by the ending but enough is presented here to allow one to draw conclusions and yet leave room for thought and speculation, which makes for a far more compelling way to part from a story.
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