Starring: Audrey Hepburn, Peter Finch, Edith Evans
Director: Fred Zinneman
Running Time: 149 mins
The Nun’s Story is an American film about a young Belgian woman who decides to enter a convent and become a nun. However, after learning of the difficulties of this life of prayer, she finds herself in an impossible situation at the outbreak of World War Two.
This is a very heavy-going, deep and tough film to watch, but I was surprised that, when I came out on the other side, it was a thoroughly intriguing and fascinating watch. A stunningly unorthodox performance from Audrey Hepburn, with a fantastic screenplay, interesting characters, and a great comment on the hardships of living life as a nun.
That’s where this film all starts off, talking about the difficulties of a new life in a convent. Immediately, we’re told that being a nun ‘is not an escape from normal life, but a sacrifice’, and the way you see the very rigorous and tough training that the young women aiming to become nuns is absolutely fascinating.
The first period of this film was by far the most interesting, as it showed everything you need to know about being a nun. The training procedure was tough and almost impossible, but it’s fascinatingly factual, and with Audrey Hepburn’s character being thrown into this bizarre life, we get a real sense of learning the ways of a nun right from scratch.
Following the training period, our main character travels to a leper colony, and while this part of the story is a lot quieter and slower, it really delves into the depths of the main character, looking at the inner anguish and conflict she experiences due to the temptations of outside influences causing her to disobey, making this part the most heavy-duty of the whole film.
Finally, the story regarding the young nun’s ultimate dilemma as she, in order to obey the rules of the convent, must choose to remain neutral as Nazi Germany invades her homeland or leave her life as a nun forever is almost soul-destroying. At this point in the film, there comes a great deal of silence and deep thought, which I found hugely intriguing as well as emotive, ending with a really tough climax.
Audrey Hepburn’s performance in this film is also staggering. Unlike the majority of her more happy-go-lucky rom-coms, this is a very quiet and tough role to pull off, however she manages to be totally convincing in her transformation from normal girl to a top level nun, and it’s her consistency throughout that really allows you to maintain your interest and connection to this film, so that’s why it gets a 7.6 from me.