Releasedatum USA
18 Juli 1959

Filmproducent / Distributie

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                 De film begint in Brugge in 1920. Gabrielle is de dochter van een bekende
                 chirurg en wil intreden in een klooster. Haar vader wil haar dit idee uit het
                 hoofd praten, maar moet uiteindelijk toegeven aan Gabrielles beslissing. Gabrielle gaat daarna door het leven als zuster Luke en studeert tropische geneeskunde. In het verhaal is er veel aandacht voor de problemen die zij de eerste jaren heeft met de absolute gehoorzaamheid die van nonnen wordt geëist. Na haar studie en een korte periode als verpleegster in een psychiatrische inrichting vertrekt ze naar een missieziekenhuis in Belgisch-Congo. Ze wordt teruggestuurd naar België vlak voordat de Tweede Wereldoorlog uitbreekt. Als ze hoort dat de nazi's haar vader hebben vermoord, begint ze een afschuw voor hen te ontwikkelen die ze niet kan verenigen met haar geloftes als non. Uiteindelijk besluit ze het klooster te verlaten. De film eindigt met het beeld van Gabrielle die, voor het eerst in vele jaren niet gekleed in habijt maar in gewone burgerkleding, de poort van het klooster achter zich sluit en de straat uitloopt

 

                   Gabrielle "Gaby" Van Der Mal (Audrey Hepburn), whose father Hubert
                  (Dean Jagger) is a famous surgeon in Belgium, enters a convent of nursing
                   sisters in the late 1920s in the hopes of eventually becoming a missionary nursing sister in the Belgian Congo. After being given the name of Sister Luke and undergoing a postulancy and novitiate which foreshadow her future difficulties with the vow of obedience, she takes her first vows and is sent to a school of tropical medicine.

 

After passing high in her class but not without some spiritual conflict, she discovers to her disappointment that she has been assigned to go not to the Congo but instead to a mental hospital, where she assists with the most difficult and violent cases. One of these patients, a particularly violent schizophrenic believing herself to be the Archangel Gabriel (Colleen Dewhurst), tricks her into opening the cell door in violation of the rules, and Sister Luke barely escapes from her to face the shame of her disobedience.

 

Nevertheless she is eventually permitted to take her final vows and sent to the Congo. Once there she is disappointed to learn that she will not be nursing the natives, but instead will be the operating nurse for the white hospital. She develops a strained but professional relationship with the brilliant surgeon there, Dr. Fortunati (Peter Finch). Eventually, the strains of her work and spiritual struggle cause her to succumb to tuberculosis. Fortunati, not wanting to lose the ideal nurse that Sister Luke is and sympathetic with her desire to stay in the Congo, engineers an amazing cure for the TB, a condition which otherwise always requires being sent back to Europe.

 

Some time after Sister Luke's return to health and work, Fortunati is forced to send her back to Belgium as the only nurse qualified to accompany a VIP who has become mentally unstable. She spends an outwardly quiet but inwardly restless period of time at the motherhouse in Brussels before the superior general finally gives her a new assignment. Because it is clear that there is going to be a war, she cannot go back to the Congo, but instead becomes a surgical nurse at a local hospital.

 

There Sister Luke's long struggle with obedience becomes impossible for her to sustain, as she is forced into repeated compromises to deal with the reality of the Nazi occupation, including the fact that they have killed her father. She asks for and with difficulty is granted a dispensation from her vows, and is last seen changing into lay garb and quietly leaving the convent by a back door.

 

 

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