"The Nun's Story" Is Released

Audrey Hepburn stars in The Nun's Story as Sister Luke, postulant of a Belgian order of nuns.

Though frequently disillusioned in her efforts to spread good will -- at one point she is nearly killed by a mental patient (Colleen Dewhurst) -- Sister Luke perseveres. Sent as a nurse to the Belgian Congo, an assignment she'd been hoping for, Sister Luke is disappointed to learn that she will not be ministering to the natives but to European patients. Through the example of no-nonsense chief surgeon Peter Finch, the nun sheds her idealism and becomes a diligent worker -- so much so that she contracts tuberculosis. Upon the outbreak of World War II, Sister Luke tries to honor the edicts of her order and not take sides, but this becomes impossible when her father (Dean Jagger) is killed by the Nazis. Realizing that she cannot remain true to her vows, Sister Luke leaves the order and returns to "civilian" life. The Nun's Story ends with a long, silent sequence in which Sister Luke divests herself of her religious robes, dons street garb, and walks out to an uncertain future. There is no background music: director Fred Zinnemann decided that "triumphant" music would indicate that Sister Luke's decision was the right one, while "tragic" music would suggest that she is doing wrong. Rather than make an editorial comment, the director decided against music, allowing the audience members to fill in the blanks themselves. The Nun's Story is based on the book by Kathryn Hulme, whose depiction of convent life was a lot harsher and more judgmental than anything seen in the film. ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide

The Nun's Story is the title of a dramatic film that was released by Warner Bros. in 1959.

Based upon the 1956 novel of the same title by Kathryn Hulme, the story tells of the life of Sister Luke (played by Audrey Hepburn), a young Belgian woman who decides to enter a convent and makes many of the sacrifices required of her, but at the outset of World War II, finds she cannot remain neutral in the face of the abject evil of Hitler's Germany. The book was based upon the life of Marie-Louise Habets, a Belgian nurse who similarly spent time as a nun.

A major portion of the film takes place in the Belgian Congo where Sister Luke assists Dr. Fortunati (Peter Finch) in helping treat the lepers of the area.