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Nun's Story
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The Nun's Story

4.5 10
Director: Fred Zinnemann

Cast: Audrey Hepburn, Peter Finch, Edith Evans


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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


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.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Craig Butler
The Nun's Story is a moving, heartfelt drama, highlighted by an absolutely stunning central performance by the irreplaceable Audrey Hepburn. While some might quibble that a less "stellar" persona in the role might be truer to the original tale, the fact is that Nun has been conceived for the cinema in such a manner that a certain amount of star power is needed to hold the film together. Hepburn, of course, has no problem fitting that bill, but she does so much more than that, delivering some of the finest work of her esteemed career. She projects the inner turmoil of the character both subtly and overtly, but never in a manner that feels like "acting." More importantly, she realistically conveys both the character's strong pull to her faith and her resistance to the same, so that the viewer keeps guessing till the end which one will win out. It's a superb performance, aided by sensitive direction from Fred Zinnemann and a screenplay full of strong moments from Robert Anderson. Yet both Zinnemann and Anderson must also take some blame for the film's weaknesses, chief among them the fact the character's initial decision to go into the convent is never gone into. Modern audiences may also feel that the film shies away from examining the morality of some of the demands within the order, although audiences at the time of its release felt it was bold just to bring up the issue at all. Zinnemann occasionally lets the pace flag, but he presents some stunning visuals and is blessed with a lovely cast. (Watch for a powerful Colleen Dewhurst in the mental institution.) If Nun has its flaws, it's still affecting and stirring.

Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Warner Home Video
Region Code:
[Wide Screen]
[Dolby Digital Mono]
Sales rank:

Special Features

Closed Caption; Theatrical trailer; English and French languages; English, French and Spanish subtitles

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Audrey Hepburn Gabrielle Van Der Mal
Peter Finch Dr. Fortunate
Edith Evans Mother Emmanuel Superior General
Peggy Ashcroft Mother Mathilde
Dean Jagger Dr. Van Der Mal
Mildred Dunnock Sister Margharita
Beatrice Straight Mother Christophe
Patricia Collinge Sister William
Rosalie Crutchley Sister Eleanor
Ruth White Mother Marcella
Barbara O'Neil Mother Katherine
Margaret Phillips Sister Pauline
Patricia Bosworth Simone
Colleen Dewhurst Archangel
Stephen Murray Chaplain
Lionel Jeffries Dr. Goovaerts
Niall MacGinnis Father Vermeuhlen
Dorothy Alison Sister Aurelie
Giovanna Galletti Actor
Penelope Horner Jeannette Milonet
Errol John Illunga
Eva Kotthaus Sister Marie
Diana Lambert Lisa
Orlando Martins Kalulu
Ave Ninchi Sister Bernard
Richard O'Sullivan Pierre Van Der Mal
Frank Singuineau Actor
Jeannette Sterke Louise Van Der Mal
Molly Urquhart Sister Augustine
Charles Lamb Pascin

Technical Credits
Fred Zinnemann Director
Robert Anderson Screenwriter
Maurice Barnathan Set Decoration/Design
Marjorie Best Costumes/Costume Designer
Henry Blanke Producer
Alberto de Rossi Makeup
George Groves Sound/Sound Designer
Franz Planer Cinematographer
Walter Thompson Editor
Alexandre Trauner Art Director
Franz Waxman Score Composer

Scene Index

Disc #1 -- The Nun's Story
1. Credits [2:44]
2. Family Farewells [3:55]
3. Father's Blessing [4:53]
4. Grand Silence [4:49]
5. Instruction [3:28]
6. Perfect Nun [3:38]
7. Obedience, Maturity... [4:31]
8. Investiture to the Novitiate [7:47]
9. Flowers for the Novice [1:29]
10. Mea Culpa [4:40]
11. Departure [1:20]
12. Taking the Habit [2:50]
13. Tropical Medicine [3:14]
14. Do Good and Disappear [3:52]
15. Next Assignment [2:43]
16. Mental Sanitorium [5:22]
17. Attacked by Archangel [3:16]
18. No Resting Place [2:14]
19. Final Vows [:14]
20. Bound for the Congo [:46]
21. Mother Mathilde [5:36]
22. About the Doctor [5:56]
23. Dr. Fortunati [3:21]
24. Notoriety [4:22]
25. Fr. Andre; Tension [2:52]
26. Leper Colony [4:51]
27. Worldly Nun's Diagnosis [4:17]
28. Recovery [6:54]
29. Christmas Convert? [4:44]
30. Death in the Dispensary [1:16]
31. Christmas Mass [3:21]
32. Transfer to Belgium [1:56]
33. Mother House [5:00]
34. War [5:16]
35. Between Us [3:40]
36. Tragic News [2:58]
37. No Longer a Nun [2:23]
38. More Important [2:45]
39. Released [4:32]
40. Out Into the World [3:23]


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The Nun's Story 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love Audrey Hepburn and I really, really enjoyed the movie. Love the story, I found it well performed and it held my interest throughout the entire movie.
momof6likestoread More than 1 year ago
Audrey Hepburn does a wonderful job in this movie portraying a girl who becomes a nun so that she can help people. This is the only way that she can think of to be the kind of nurse that she wants to be. She is a very strong character.
KennyA More than 1 year ago
I always found this to be an interesting film; but only recently have I realized how good it truly is. The performances are uniformly outstanding, with special mention of Peter Finch as the somewhat irreverant doctor who adds a needed portion of humor to the story. Audrey Hepburn is, as always, marvelous in what would seem to be a difficult role. Zinnemann has done it again!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Audrey Hepburn, will live on she is timeless and will never be forgotten for her contribution in the actors guild. Audrey Hepburn has always given her best in all her movie classic's. Another suspense filled classic of all time is Wait Until Dark. She also portraid the lovely Eliza Dolittle in My Fair Lady. She is an inspriation to all actors her contribution will live on.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a very different sort of role for audrey hepburn. all the actors were very convincing and audrey's performance gave me a numbing sadness. as a huge audey hepburn fan, it is good for a change for her to do something different. cuz life isnt always le vie en rose. (pardon my lack of french)
Guest More than 1 year ago
Audrey Hepburn shined in this brilliant portrayal of the movie the nun's story. As always her bright eyes dazzled us once again.