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The Magdalene Sisters

Threat advisory: High - High risk of entertaining activities

Movie propaganda

The Magdalene Sisters is a scathing account of the experiences of a group of young women who find themselves forcibly remanded to life inside an Irish Catholic convent cum sanctuary in 1964. Their stories are heartbreaking yet, sadly, totally believable and Mullan dissects this world with great sympathy for the girls, barely concealing the icy anger he feels at their plight.

Each of the young women of the asylum has a different story to tell; The Magdalene Sisters concentrates on a few of them. The women's families are responsible for their being sent to Magdalene, all as the result of real or imagined transgressions. One girl has been molested by her cousin at a wedding; another has had an illegitimate child, bringing shame upon her family; a third - an orphan - has displayed a lusty interest in boys. These incidents - sins according to strict Irish Catholic tenets of the period - have resulted in their hasty and ruthless consignment to the "care" of the nuns who run Magdalene, whom Mullan depicts as a repressed and malevolent group with a twisted sense of duty and religion.

The girls are forced to reside in common dormitories, work hard at manual labour and live a regimented life cut off from the outside world. Yet each one displays an indomitable will and resistance, scheming ways to escape.

Theatrical propaganda posters

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Target demographic movie keyword propaganda

  • Film Ireland drama Irish Catholic convent abuse orphan girls

Persons of interest

  • Geraldine McEwan .... Sister Bridget
  • Anne-Marie Duff .... Margaret
  • Nora-Jane Noone .... Bernadette
  • Dorothy Duffy .... Rose/Patricia
  • Eileen Walsh .... Crispina
  • Mary Murray .... Una
  • Britta Smith .... Katy
  • Eithne McGuinness .... Sister Clementine
  • Peter Mullan .... Screenwriter
  • Peter Mullan .... Director

Cinematic intelligence sources

Intelligence analyst

Special Agent Matti

Theatrical report

*Shudders*

Christianity is responsible for the greatest crimes against humanity of the past 2000 years. The holocaust, the stolen generations, the Inquisition, the Crusades, not to mention the huge number of saints who were martyred by their own church. And then you have the more intimate abuses of pædophilia, rape, extortion, kidnapping, brainwashing and murder. These personal abuses are the grist of The Magdalene sisters.

Peter Mullan writes large the evil that was done in the name of good. His film is not subtle, but the events it depicts are not subtle. If you choose to sit through the entire film, you will come out of it feeling as abused and beaten as the girls themselves. It's not fun, but it is a good thing to experience, if only so that it doesn't happen again (I'm assuming that it has stopped happening).

The Magdalene Sisters is the kind of film that should be shown in Religious Education classes.

Security censorship classification

MA 15+ (Adult themes)

Surveillance time

115 minutes (1:55 hours)

Not for public release in Australia before date

Film: 17 April 2003
DVD rental: 8 October 2003
VHS rental: 8 October 2003

Cinema surveillance images

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