Intimate Portrayals of Nuns in Postwar Anglo-American Film
Publication Year: 2013
Published by: Fordham University Press
Title Page, Copyright Page
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...1. Selfl ess Desires: Sacrifi cial and Self-Fulfi lling Service ...
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I am grateful to the History Department at the University of Hong Kong, which gave me a home away from home where I could work on this book in an intellectual environment of serious engage-ment with religious history and culture, and in particular, to colleagues Frank Dikotter, Staci Ford, and Bert Becker who supported me so gen-erously with advice and many interesting conversations during the long ...
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If anyone has suffered from typecasting, it is the cinematic nun. En-veloped in a religious veil and habit that show her only in part and are barriers to imagining her as a whole person, she has been vulner-able to stereotypes that complete the visual process of fragmenting her on-screen.1 Whether these stereotypes trivialize, sentimentalize, or sanc-tify her, represent her seriously or sensationally, the result is the same.2 ...
1 Selfless Desires
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When Ingrid Bergman appeared on-screen as Sister Mary Bene-dict in The Bells of St. Maryâs, she was already a major fi lm ce-lebrity, but she made the fi lm nun herself a star who âlight(s) up dark lives . . . with luminous Hollywood beautyâ (Loudon 1993: 16). The movie reviewers in 1945 felt that Bergman succeeded in representing the Catho-lic nun to a modern audience as an attractive, appealing, and admirable ...
2 Sexual Desires
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Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburgerâs 1947 fi lm Black Narcissus dra-matized the vocational crises of fi ve Anglican sisters who struggle to establish a missionary foothold in the Himalayas, and the tragedy that unfolds when the neurotic Sister Ruth disintegrates under the strain, forsakes her vows, and runs amok. The shocking fi nale of Black Narcissus ...
3 Subjective Desires
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...ulate in a black-and-white habit, the nun was still a fi gure veiled in mystique. This mystique derived its power from the traditional religious view that she âbinds herself to a state of perfection, which requires a striv-ing toward holiness that is . . . life-longâ (Donovan and Wusinich 2008: 39). In The Nunâs Story, fi lm director Fred Zinnemann showed his re-...
4 Sonorous Desires
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The Nunâs Story comes to an end in solemn silence, a silence heavy with Sister Lukeâs sadness and regret at failing to become âthe perfect nun . . . obedient in all things unto death.â When she leaves the convent, she does not close the door behind her. Technically, this allowed the camera, which stays behind inside the cloister, to watch her cross the threshold ...
5 Sacred Desires
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Refl ecting on the effect that the Second Vatican Council had on Ameri-can Catholic nuns in the 1960s, distinguished Benedictine leader and re-ligious writer Sister Joan Chittister remarked that this decade of unprec-edented change and renewal âwas wonderful and it was terrible. It started with hope and excitement and ended in a lot of bitterness and diffi culty ...
6 Spiritual Desires
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In the fi ve previous chapters, I have explored the range and complexity of the desires that nuns unveil on-screen and shown how these subvert one view of religious life voiced by Sister Luke, that âa nun is not a person who wishes or desires.â While traditional nuns regard the selfl ess surrender to God in agape as their supreme purpose, they paradoxically ...
Conclusion: Suspect Desires
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When I originally conceived this study, I envisaged Dead Man Walking as âthe light at the end of the roadâ for the represen-tational journey that women religious take in postwar popular fi lm. It would have been satisfying to conclude on an uplifting note with a fi lm that means so much to contemporary nuns and that honors their con-tinuing work of making Christâs compassionate presence felt in a trou-...
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Abbott, Elizabeth. A History of Celibacy. New York: Scribner, 2000.Abramowitz, Rachel. âMother Superior: Interview with Susan Sarandon.â Premiere Adams, Thelma. âLove Me Tender: Mother Dolores Hart on Elvis, Her Big Bang Theory of Sexuality, and Her Oscar-Nominated Short âGod Is the Bigger Elvis.â â Yahoo! Movies (February 21, 2012). http://movies.yahoo.com/blogs/...
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Page Count: 320
Publication Year: 2013