“Mary Magdalene was a woman of poor repute who found salvation for her ways though years of toil and service as penance for her sins.”
That’s a key statement early on in THE MAGDALENE SISTERS, a gut wrenching, powerful, well made movie that too well portrays the theme of “man’s inhumanity to man,” set in the framework of Catholic Women’s “asylums” in Ireland during the mid 1960s. The Magdalene Sisters’ “Laundries” were institutions where “fallen women” could be taken by their parents or priests and taught piety through instruction and hard work.
The movie is backed and endorsed by a victim’s group called SNAP, which represents people who have been molested by priests. The Vatican and the Roman Catholic Church are mixed over the film in that the facts of abuse at the hands of priests and nuns appear to be well documented, but it sheds a terrible light on the church to have it dragged onto the screen in such an overt, chilling manner.
As Christians, we are often targets of terrible movies, and the abuses of a small minority are exposed in a way that seems universal and the rule rather than the exception. Yet we as Christians are supposed to be “in the light,” examining ourselves and judging within the household of God, and repentance and revival do start with God’s own people.
THE MAGDALENE SISTERS follows the lives of three Irish girls in 1964 and their journey into the hell known as “The Magdalene Sisters Laundry.” Though the girls are not real, their stories are supposed to represent a conglomerate of true stories.
One of the girls, Margaret, is raped by her cousin at a wedding. She tells her family who seem to get to the bottom of it. A day or two later she is roughly awakened by her father, who says, “You! Get up!” and basically throws her into a car with the local priest (who was one of the musicians at the dance), and she is driven away as her little brother cries out after her.
The second girl, Bernadette, is a sultry, sharp-tongued, beauty who flirts with the local boys through a fence at a Catholic Orphanage where she lives. She is suddenly shipped away without apparently doing anything wrong.
Rose is the third girl, who though gentle and kind, is seen in a hospital holding her new, bastard son as her mother sits by and stoically refuses to look at her or the baby. Soon a priest arrives and she is strongly pressured by her father into giving up her baby for adoption. Her now silent father holds her as she screams and cries as the priest takes her baby away.
All three girls are brought together at the “Magdalene Sisters” asylum where they soon learn that their only salvation comes from hard work, silence, and penance for their sins. They are considered “hookers and whores” by the outsiders and treated like scum by the nuns on the inside.
At this point the movie becomes a “prison film” where the viewer sees how terrible the place is, how sick and wicked the head nun is, and how all hope is lost. Apparently, a girl could be interned in one of the laundries for being poor, “in moral danger,” orphaned, a rape victim, or unwed mother. The horror is that unless released by a priest or relative, the women were interned for life!
The three girls are subject to head shearing, beatings, terrible food, rough clothing, simple beds, and much psychological torture. In the course of the movie, one woman tries to commit suicide and is seen having sex with a priest. The women are lined up and forced to jog in place naked, then a huge, evil, smiling nun makes fun of their physical features and when one of them starts sobbing, says, “It’s only a game.” The girls are taught to believe that they are “supposed to suffer” and see the effects on older inmates as they are without hope and life. Eventually, two of the girls escape, and one is released simply because her parents thought that four years was enough.
The film has all the language, nudity, violence you would expect from a woman’s prison movie, as well as having wicked nuns as the “warden” and “prison guards.” THE MAGDALENE SISTERS is a painful expression of a twisted system. Many thousands of women were interred in the laundries, and true suffering did occur. That this film was made to show the injustice and cruelty of the asylums is understandable in that they should never happen again, but it is regrettable that the many good deeds of godly, kind, self-sacrificing sisters are not shown. Regrettably, this movie will turn many people who see it away from the loving God who wants to save them from this evil.
Please address your comments to:
Bob and Harvey Weinstein
375 Greenwich Street
New York, NY 10013
Phone: (323) 822-4100 & (212) 941-3800
Fax: (212) 941-3846
SUMMARY: THE MAGDALENE SISTERS exposes the abuses and injustices of young ladies at the hands of priests and nuns in the 1960s. Filled with disturbing scenes, language, sex and nudity, this film is a horrendous portrayal of the perversions the enemy brings to God’s purposes through His church.
(AbAbAb, L, VV, SS, NNN, MM) Anti-Christian, anti-Roman Catholic worldview depicting the church as a place of horror and abuse; language includes about six obscenities; violence includes whipping with a strap and a cane, hair shearing that draws blood, forceful shoving, etc.; sex includes depictions of girl fornicating with priest; nudity includes girl hiking dress to show a young man her private parts and nun making girls jog in place naked with full frontal nudity; and, psychological torture and perversion of true church and God’s true purposes through numerous abuses.