One of the landmarks of Polish cinema, this film is based on the documented story of the 'possession' of a group of nuns that led to the burning of a priest at the stake in Loudun, France in 1634. Mother Joan of the Angels is a spare, visually rigorous, and profoundly disturbing exploration of faith, repression, fanaticism, and eros. Anyone who is a fan of classics of the strange will find much to savour in Mother Joan Of the Angels.
Mother Joan and Father Joseph
- Mother Joan of the Angels review by AW
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You rated this film: 4
I would say that this film is a fine foray into cinematic chiaroscuro. Filmed in black and white and shot with enough close-ups to make Greta Garbo happy, we do have a masterpiece equal to the German or Danish offerings of the 1920s and 30s.
Father Joseph is sent into the monastery to investigate allegations of demon possession by a group of nuns. I assume Kawalerowicz has used Poland as his setting of choice rather than France and really it makes little difference to the plot. The nuns are beautiful in their new-found 'excuse' to find freedom in movement and expression. One can easily see the psychological ramifications of repression and cloistering if one isn't prepared for anything else. Forget gender issues here because we are stripped down to the questions everyone asks, 'What is of God and what is just our human nature'? Does prayer affect anything? Who can we trust; ourselves or authority?
Lucyna Winnicka and Mieczyslaw Voit are splendid as the lead actors and the scene between Fr. Joseph and the Rabbi is an excellent Dostoevskian play twinning play on philosophical discussion.
If you like arthouse cinema, I recommend it. If you like your movies in color, without sub-titles, and with a lot of action, you'll of course hate this film.