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Agnes of God

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Editorial Reviews

An isolated convent becomes the setting for murder in this suspenseful tale of spiritual passion and pride. Jane Fonda, Ann Bancroft and Meg Tilly star in Norman Jewison's riveting adaptation of the hit Broadway drama. When the infant of a young nun, Agnes (Tilly), is found strangled, a court-appointed psychiatrist, Martha Livingston (Fonda), must decide if the devout but troubled girl is fit to stand trial. In her quest for truth, Martha goes head to head with the intractable Mother Superior (Bancroft), who assures her that Agnes has no memory of the pregnancy. But the probe uncovers mysterious aspects of Agnes' personality, which lead to a shattering climax. Is AGNES OF GOD a hystericalyoung woman or is her ordeal divinely inspired?

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Jane Fonda, Anne Bancroft, Meg Tilly, Anne Pitoniak, Winston Rekert
  • Directors: Norman Jewison
  • Writers: John Pielmeier
  • Producers: Norman Jewison, Bonnie Palef, Charles Milhaupt, Patrick J. Palmer
  • Format: Anamorphic, Color, DTS Surround Sound, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround)
  • Subtitles: None
  • Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired: None
  • Region: Region 1 encoding (US and Canada only)
    Some Region 1 DVDs may contain Regional Coding Enhancement (RCE). Some, but not all, of our international customers have had problems playing these enhanced discs on what are called "region-free" DVD players. For more information on RCE, click .
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment / Mill Creek
  • DVD Release Date: May 21, 2002
  • Run Time: 98 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (67 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000063ING
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #16,718 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Agnes of God" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Director Norman Jewison creates a mood and atmosphere in the film that compliments the subject matter well.
James L.
The excellent acting by Tilly herself was worthy of an Oscar win for Best Supporting Actress and Fonda and Bancroft's performances are superb.
Henry West
Mother Superior also wants to protect Agnes and keep others out from disrupting their quest for spiritual realization.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Stephen M. Bauer on July 12, 2002
Format: DVD
Agnes of God has a very tight script, plot and cinematography. It is gripping from end to end. The film is not about religion but about the inter-personal and intra-personal conflicts of a psychiatrist, the mother superior of a community of nuns and one of her young nuns.
Set in Montreal, the movie opens with a very young, pretty nun being discovered unconscious and splattered with a lot of blood. A dead newborn baby is also discovered in the room.
Presumably, unknown to anyone, the nun, Sister Agnes (Meg Tilly), had been pregnant, and she strangled the baby immediately upon its birth. She is charged with manslaughter.
A psychiatrist, Dr. Martha Livingston (Jane Fonda), is summoned by the court to make a diagnosis of the woman. Initially Dr. Livingston resisted the assignment, because she said, it was an open and shut case. The community of nuns is cloistered, and for Dr. Livingston to do her job, she must penetrate the world of the cloister. She is not at all congenial or sympathetic towards the nuns. It turns out she has her own emotional ax to flail against the church.
Mother Miriam Ruth (Anne Bankcroft), the mother superior of the convent, is equally hostile to Dr. Livingston. She is adamantly opposed to having a psychiatrist diagnose Sister Agnes, but she has no choice since it is a legal matter. She is faced with the dilemma of sending her young charge go to jail or the nuthouse. Later on, it comes out that the prioress has been keeping a few secrets of her own related to the issue.
Everyone denies knowing the girl was pregnant. No one has any idea how it happened. Its obvious the postulate/novice is suffering from a serious psychiatric illness, or several. She has the social and emotional development of a naïve grade school child.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Hallstatt Prince on June 14, 2005
Format: DVD
This is an interesting film that raises the questions as to whether miracles still exist in the modern world. The movie and play were criticized by some as being an attack on Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular. Catholics have a good reason to be wary of broadsides from popular culture but sometimes these condemnations take the form of a knee jerk reaction. I for one found the movie a good debate about religion and spirituality and I found the movie to be highly moving and faith affirming.

The story concerns a young novitiate in a secluded convent in Canada who becomes pregnant and whose baby is killed.

The government is put in a difficult position since even though Canada has a large Catholic population a crime has been committed which must be investigated.

Jane Fonda, in one of her best roles, plays the neurotic psychiatrist Martha Livingstone who is sent to investigate the incident. The psychiatrist is not completely objective as she is what some might call "a fallen Catholic", someone who has unfortunately been harmed by religion. And she has an ax to grind.

Her nemesis (although "nemesis might be too strong of a word) is the mother superior of the convent played by Anne Bancroft. Her performance is also magnificent. Although the mother superior obstructs the investigation some of the most interesting dialogue about faith is between the psychiatrist and the mother superior. Both women almost more interested in Agnes to justify their own vocations and points of view as they are about getting to the truth.

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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By MortensOrchid on May 16, 2007
Format: DVD
I picked up this movie recently as I remembered seeing its poster in the theaters at the place where we used to go to see movies. My mom told me that was a movie for adults, so it always had some intregue for me. Now that I am an adult (ha ha ha), it holds just as many questions and just as much mystery.

Jane Fonda plays Dr. Livingston, a court appointed psychiatrist who has been called in to investigate a mysterious murder case. A young woman has given birth and apparently killed her baby soon after. The young woman was Sister Agnes, a novice at a French Canadian convent. She has no memory of the event, and the Mother Superior is bent on keeping others out. She and Dr. Livingston would clash several times. Dr. Livingston is the voice of reason, the realist, the one who is determined to find the answers and a perfectly reasonable explination for everything. Mother Superior is the one who has put her faith in God, trusting enough to leave some things alone to that of the whims of fate. And Agnes, sweet, innocent little Agnes is at the center of it all.

In the conversations Dr. Livinston has with Agnes, we find that she is innocent but hiding an abusive past. She doesn't understand many things about the world, and that she had been locked in this convent all her life she had no means in which to learn. Why would she? This is the place where she is finding happiness away from her abusive past. This is hard for Dr. Livingston to accept, why any young woman would want to be a nun and live this way. Dr. Livingston has her own problems, and perhaps she wants to atone for her own mistakes by finding and answer. We also find out that Mother Superior is not so innocent either.
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