Browse all reviews by letter     A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z 0 - 9

Poland 1961
Directed by
Jerzy Kawalerowicz
105 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3.5 stars

Mother Joan Of The Angels

Based on actual historical events that have found various fictional interpretations, Mother Joan Of The Angels won the Special Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival in 1961. Set in the 17th century it tells of a group of nuns claimed to be possessed by devils after they had been carnally corrupted by the local priest who was subsequently burnt at the stake. and the efforts of an exorcist, Jean-Joseph Suryn (Mieczyslaw Voit), to  reclaim them for God.

Although it does not have the dramatic intensity of the Scandinavian film-makers like Dreyer and Bergman to whose work it has many similarities in both content and, thanks to the impressive black-and-white photography and spare settings, style, the film is nevertheless a commendable addition to the annals of films dealing with religious/spiritual crises (as Ken Russell’s The Devils, which deals with more or less the same events but for sensationalist purposes, is not ).

The film captures well the interdependency of the spiritual and the erotic as Father Suryn’s strictly religious self-image gradually breaks down as he becomes more involved with Mother Joan (Lucyna Winnicka) in trying to liberate her.  Voit (who also plays the rabbi that Father Suryn visits) is compelling in the role but Winnicka who was married to the director is perhaps too conventionally pretty to convince as a medieval abbottess  in the thrall of dark forces.




Want something different?

random vintage best worst