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
Fred Zinnemann was strongly opposed to the studio's demand that there should be music over the final scene. Zinnemann felt that music would detract from the depth and grace of Audrey Hepburn's performance in this pivotal scene. Jack L. Warner felt otherwise but eventually relented. The scene remains one of the most memorable and famous from this acclaimed film, precisely for its restraint. When the film previewed in San Francisco with only Gregorian Chant as its score, Warner felt the results were disastrous, especially after the studio had gone to the expense of sending Waxman to Rome for three months. See more »
In the scene where they are making their vows, the priest blesses each one in Latin. The formula should be "et Spiritus Sancti" and not "et Spiritus Sanctus." See more »
"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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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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