Agnes of God – the latest target of the Ban Culture – A review of the Original Film

Agnes of God – the latest target of the Ban Culture – A review of the Original Film
A naïve novice nun is discovered
with a dead new-born in her convent quarters, and she insists that the dead
child was a result of virgin Immaculate Conception. A court appointed psychiatrist
investigates her case and the psychiatrist and the Mother Superior of the
convent clash during the resulting investigation.

A dead new-born, found wrapped in blood soaked sheets in the convent quarters of a young novitiate, the
fragile and unearthly Sister Agnes claims to retain no memory of the event.
With police getting involved because of the death of the infant, the Court
appoints a psychiatrist to investigate the case.

The Court wants the psychiatrist to
provide an answer whether the apparently innocent novitiate is competent enough
to stand trial for the murder of the infant, while The Mother Superior of the
convent wants the novice sister to be left alone.

While clashing with the Mother
Superior, the psychiatrist, determined to help Sister Agnes, who is assumed to
know nothing of sex or birth, gain a stronger grasp on reality and uncover any
wrongdoers, finds herself inexorably drawn towards the truth while searching
for the answer whereas the Court, which has appointed her just wants her to
confirm whether the novitiate can be charged for the murder. In the process,
she conceivably discovers and realizes more than that she would have bargained for.

The original story is a play written by John Pielmeier which was adapted into this movie, released in 1985 and was nominated for
three Academy Awards for Best Actress in a Leading Role (Anne Bancroft as the
Mother Superior), Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Meg Tilly as the novice
nun) and the Best Original Music Score.

The film has won several critical
acclaim and has been played all over the world and the original play was also
performed in Mumbai two decades ago. Now this play being adapted in India and slated
to have its first performance this week seem to have run afoul with the Church
and the self-proclaimed religious activists, alleging that it hurts their
religious sentiments.

The title is a pun on the Latin
Phrase Agnus Dei (translated into English as the Lamb of God) which has
offended the religious sentiments the most, according to the Catholic Secular
Forum, a religious body who has raised similar objections in the past against
others, the latest being the stand-up comedians, AIB Roast.

At a time when we are constantly
being questioned on the freedom of speech, I wonder whether this call for a ban
on this play is yet another target of the growing ban culture in our country.

Agnes of God is a soul-stirring portrayal of miracles and the clash between reason and faith and the ultimate realisation of truth wherein both the dogged rationality and the religious buoyancy is sure to be jolted.  

Directed by: Norman

Written by: John Pielmeier

Distributed by: Columbia Pictures

Jane Fonda – Psychiatrist Dr. Martha
Anne Bancroft – Mother Superior
Miriam Ruth
Meg Tilly – Sister Agnes

Original Play
Opened on Broadway on
30th March, 1982 at the Music Box Theatre.
Elizabeth Ashley as Dr.
Livingstone, Geraldine Page as Mother Superior Miriam Ruth and Amanda Plummer
as Sister Agnes.
Awards won
Plummer received the Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Play and Page was nominated for Best
Actress in a Play.

Play adapted and produced in India by: Poor Box Productions, by Mahabanoo Mody-Kotwal, Directed by Kaizaad Kotwal.

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