The Nun's Story

1959

The Nun's Story

Critics Consensus

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93%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 15

82%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 5,545
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Movie Info

Audrey Hepburn stars in The Nun's Story as Sister Luke, postulant of a Belgian order of nuns. Though frequently disillusioned in her efforts to spread good will -- at one point she is nearly killed by a mental patient (Colleen Dewhurst) -- Sister Luke perseveres. Sent as a nurse to the Belgian Congo, an assignment she'd been hoping for, Sister Luke is disappointed to learn that she will not be ministering to the natives but to European patients. Through the example of no-nonsense chief surgeon Peter Finch, the nun sheds her idealism and becomes a diligent worker -- so much so that she contracts tuberculosis. Upon the outbreak of World War II, Sister Luke tries to honor the edicts of her order and not take sides, but this becomes impossible when her father (Dean Jagger) is killed by the Nazis. Realizing that she cannot remain true to her vows, Sister Luke leaves the order and returns to "civilian" life. The Nun's Story ends with a long, silent sequence in which Sister Luke divests herself of her religious robes, dons street garb, and walks out to an uncertain future. There is no background music: director Fred Zinnemann decided that "triumphant" music would indicate that Sister Luke's decision was the right one, while "tragic" music would suggest that she is doing wrong. Rather than make an editorial comment, the director decided against music, allowing the audience members to fill in the blanks themselves. The Nun's Story is based on the book by Kathryn Hulme, whose depiction of convent life was a lot harsher and more judgmental than anything seen in the film. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

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Cast

Audrey Hepburn
as Gabrielle Van Der Mal
Peter Finch
as Dr. Fortunati
Edith Evans
as Mother Emmanuel
Peggy Ashcroft
as Mother Mathilde
Dean Jagger
as Dr. Van Der Mal
Mildred Dunnock
as Sr. Margharita
Beatrice Straight
as Mother Christophe
Patricia Collinge
as Sr. William
Rosalie Crutchley
as Sr. Eleanor
Ruth White
as Mother Marcella
Eva Kotthaus
as Sister Marie
Niall MacGinnis
as Father Vermeuhlen
Barbara O'Neil
as Mother Katherine
Lionel Jeffries
as Dr. Goovaerts
Margaret Phillips
as Sister Pauline
Errol John
as Illunga
Jeannette Sterke
as Louise Van Der Mal
Richard O'Sullivan
as Pierre Van Der Mal
Marina Wolkonsky
as Marie Van Der Mal
Penelope Horner
as Jeannette Milonet
Ave Ninchi
as Sister Bernard
Dara Gavin
as Sister Ellen
Elfrida Simbari
as Sister Timothy
Dorothy Alison
as Sister Aurelie
Molly Urquhart
as Sister Augustine
Frank Singuineau
as Murderer of Sister Aurelie
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Critic Reviews for The Nun's Story

All Critics (15) | Top Critics (3)

Audience Reviews for The Nun's Story

  • Jan 23, 2014
    Audrey Hepburn is superb as the nun who undergoes a number of personal changes as a sister in an order of nuns. The ending is blunt in a positive way.
    John B Super Reviewer
  • Feb 01, 2012
    (1959 Director: Fred Zinnemann) Excellent role for Audrey Hepburn who won a BAFTA award for her portrayal of Sister Luke, daughter of a famous surgeon. Sister Luke just shortly prior to the start of World War II travels to Africa and becomes the surgical nurse assisting their Surgeon (Peter Finch-who won a BAFTA Best Actor nomination) whom she meets while assigned to a convent/hospital in the Congo Republic. Sister Luke replaces a nun who contracted tuberculosis. No antibiotics yet (pre WW II) so that nun was forced to return to Belgium, a better climate to improve her chances against TB. During her stay in the Congo, Sister Luke also contracts tuberculosis, but through the support and tenderness of the Congonese and her hospital sheovercomes it. The selfless devotion of those in her Catholic Order are admirable. This film is a snapshot of an earlier time period portrayed convincingly by all. The film received nominations in 1960 for Academy Awards for best cinematography, best sound, best writing adapted screenplay and Golden Globe nominations.
    Teresa S Super Reviewer
  • Feb 01, 2012
    Having been raised in a Catholic School, this paints a pretty accurate pic of nuns -- I'm sorry she left, because she had more common sense than all the others
    Tom E Super Reviewer
  • Feb 01, 2012
    So very long, but it was alright besides.
    Leigh R Super Reviewer

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