The Nun's Story

Synopsis: In 1930, in Belgium, Gabrielle van der Mal is the stubborn daughter of the prominent surgeon Dr. Pascin Van Der Mal that decides to leave her the upper-class family to enter to a convent, expecting to work as nun in Congo with tropical diseases. She says good-bye to her sisters Louise and Marie; to her brother Pierre; and to her beloved father, and subjects herself to the stringent rules of the retrograde institution, including interior silent and excessive humbleness and humiliation. After a long period working in a mental institution, Gaby is finally assigned to go to Congo, where she works with the Atheist and cynical, but brilliant, Dr. Fortunati. Sister Luke proves to be very efficient nurse and assistant, and Dr. Fortunati miraculous heals her tuberculosis. Years later, she is ordered to return to Belgium and when her motherland is invaded by the Germans, she learns that her beloved father was murdered by the enemy while he was helping wounded members of the resistance. Sister Lu
Genre: Drama
Director(s): Fred Zinnemann
Production: Warner Home Video
  Nominated for 8 Oscars. Another 11 wins & 15 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
149 min


"He that shall lose his life for me

shall find it.

"If thou wilt be perfect...

"go sell what thou hast

and give to the poor...

"and come follow me. "

Each sister shall understand

that on entering the convent...

she has made the sacrifice

of her life to God.

Well, are we off?

-Whenever you're ready, Father.

-Let's not wait for that.

Your hat's on crooked.

I tried to put it on without a mirror

to get used to....


Marie didn't want to say goodbye.

And I'd rather not see Louise.

She'll be so upset and....

There's no chance. I'll wait outside.

Now, Louise, I left some things upstairs

for you and Marie.

Divide the dresses, but you keep

the blue ones because blue is your color.

Take good care of Father.

And don't let him

do too many operations in one day.

Why do you have to go, anyway?


Come along, Gaby,

I ordered the table for 1 :00.

I wish you all as happy as I am.

Gaby, I can see you poor,

I can see you chaste.

But I cannot see you, a strong-willed girl,

obedient to those bells.

In the Congo, Father,

they'll be calling me to work I love.

You may never get to the Congo.

You certainly can never ask for it.

You know that, don't you?

Your personal wishes cease to exist

when you enter that door.

Maybe it would be easier

if I went in alone, Father.

You're not an orphan.

Or going without your father's consent.

Please remember this, Gaby.

Remember, if you ever decide

this is not right for you...

there is no sense of failure

in coming back home.

Sister William.

-Dr. Van der Mal?


My name's Pascin.

You operated on me five years ago.

-Oh, yes. Left lung, wasn't it?

-No, the right.

-May I present my daughter, Simone?

-And my daughter, Gabrielle.

A great day.

-Dr. Van der Mal?


I am Sister Margarita,

Mistress of Postulants.


Of course you know Sister William

from the hospital.

Sister William and I

have shared many an anxious hour.

Sister William says Gabrielle

will be a truly great nurse.

I know you are largely responsible for that.

-I'll miss her in my laboratory.

-We'll put her to good use in ours.

Real spirit, I think.

Well, we call it stubbornness.

You may, too, after a few weeks.

We'll be going in shortly.

-Good afternoon, Doctor.

-Good afternoon, Sister.

I suppose Sister Margarita

is what they call a living rule.

What's that?

They say if the holy rule of a convent

were destroyed...

it could be recaptured by studying

the behavior of such a perfect nun.



The dowry, I think, Father.

Oh, yes, of course.

Thank you, Doctor.

Goodbye, Father. I'll miss you.

I'll do my best.

I want you to be proud of me.

I don't want to be proud of you.

I want you to be happy.

I am happy.

Gabrielle, your number is 1,072.

Thank you, Sister.

You are blessed to have this number.

It belonged to Sister Marie Polycarpe.

She was a nursing sister in the Congo.

When you have your things, you will

form two columns and face the door.

From now on, your place in line...

is determined by your age

in this community.

The first admitted is the oldest.

That is Yvonne Duval.


Yvonne Duval. Henrietta de la Croix.

Simone Pascin. Cecile de Planer.

Gabrielle Van der Mal.

Helen de Rode.

Your hands must learn to stay still.

And out of sight.

Except when they're needed

for nursing or prayer.

I'm so glad you're here, Sister William.

When you go through that door,

I'm not here.

For the six months

that you're a postulant...

and the year as a novice...

we may not speak to each other

except in matters of work.

I didn't know.

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