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Mother Joan of the Angels (1961) Review

Mother Joan of the Angels Review

by Yo Adrian on January 17th, 2019 | | , , , ,

Mother Joan of the Angels was directed by Jerzy Kawalerowicz and stars Lucyna Winnicka, Mieczysław Voit and Anna Ciepielewska (from Listopad). It’s about a convent of nuns, all possessed by demons, and a priest who travels there to attempt an exorcism.

AKA: Matka Joanna Od Aniolów

MOTHER JOAN OF THE ANGELS (1961)

Mother Joan is a Polish horror movie from 1961 and is considered one of the best Polish films ever produced, validated in part by its inclusion in Martin Scorsese Presents: Masterpieces of Polish Cinema. It’s loosely based off a true story in which a nun in 1634 France accused a priest of using black magic to seduce her and her sisters and then had them possessed. Poor bastard got executed for it. Mother Joan takes place after his execution. Another controversial movie, The Devils, takes place before his execution.

The first thing that jumped out at me was the stunning high contrast black and white film and how the characters abruptly seem to break the fourth wall from time to time. It effectively pulls you in and holds you there. The concept of demonic possession within the assumed safe confines of a convent along with the powerful storytelling creates a tense atmosphere, however the strength of the movie as a horror rests with the concept alone.

Overall, this is not really a horror movie. It’s about possessed nuns, yes. But they don’t look possessed whatsoever, they look like perfectly healthy women with a bit of sweat on their brow.

Possessed NunThere’s also no special or practical effects. Possession is literally conveyed through interpretive dance (seriously). The most shocking moment (at least from the perspective of the characters in the movie) is when Mother Joan bends over backward to form one of those reverse bridges that little girls in gymnastics do. This isn’t to say it was bad, it’s just more arthouse than Exorcist.

But like I said, it’s a quality film without a doubt. For a deeper perspective check out a quality review of Mother Joan on Year of Horror.

Worth Watching?

If you’re into watching horror movies with historic value, than yes. If you’re into foreign arthouse movies, than definitely. But if you’re actually looking for a demonic horror movie, you can safely skip this one.


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