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Agnes of God (1985)

Jane Fonda , Anne Bancroft , Norman Jewison  |  PG-13 |  DVD
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (53 customer reviews)

Price: $16.74 & FREE Shipping on orders over $35. Details
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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, Closed-captioned, Color, DTS Surround Sound, Dubbed, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround), French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Georgian, Chinese, Thai
  • Dubbed: French
  • Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired: English
  • 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: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (53 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000063ING
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #53,653 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Agnes of God" on IMDb

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

Anne Bancroft, Meg Tilly, Jane Fonda. A young, mystical nun living in a convent gives birth to a child that is immediately murdered, prompting a psychiatrist's investigation into the truth. 1985/color/99 min/PG-13/widescreen.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent film about a young nun who gets pregnant July 12, 2002
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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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
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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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic February 14, 2002
Format:VHS Tape
Great Film, shot in beautiful Quebec. I don't like Jane Fonda, but I like this film.
I think Meg Tilly is wonderful as Agnes, a simple girl in every meaning of the word, who it is revealed had been abused by her mother. She is sheltered in the cloistered convent by the Mother Superior (Bancroft) who is really her aunt.
Jane Fonda's character is arrogant, sceptical and sometimes annoying (that's just me)
Agnes has given birth to a full term baby and when it is found, it's in a waste basket dead. She (Fonda) thinks the Mother Superior had something to do with it. Who the babies father is, is anyone's guess. The end of the film is perplexing, it didn't really clear anything up for me. But it still remains one of my favorite films.
As for the stereotypical nuns, they were depicted as one might think of nuns... living in a pastoral surroundings, tending their animals and growing small crops, praying, singing hymns (that's one of the most memorable moments, when Agnes is singing..) I'm not Catholic, but it CERTAINLY didn't make me think badly of Catholics and nuns, it intrigued me...I thought it was nice :-)
Great flick, see it...
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
I am a huge fan of ambiguity; honestly, for I think that a movie that moves you to question what you think you know is beyond important. It challenges our views of certainty and challenges us to contemplate a reality different than the one we have already accepted as definite. Because of this I can't really come down too hard on `Agnes of God' for trying to be just that. Sadly, the film doesn't fully accomplish the task, but it is a valiant effort at least.

The film revolves around a young nun, Sister Agnes, who violently gives birth to a child and then murders the baby. Psychologist Dr. Martha Livingston is given the task of determining whether or not Agnes is crazy, but in order to get to Agnes she has to go through the overly protective Mother Miriam Ruth. Martha has her own quorums with faith and religion that move her to butt-heads with Mother Miriam, but it is apparent that both want what is best for Agnes, they just both see a different answer to the question of `what is best'.

I'm yelling SPOILERS even though I don't really think that they are.

The problem I have with this particular films ambiguities is that they don't really validate themselves. We are meant to believe that there are two viable options to Agnes's conception; namely that she was unfaithful to god by having relations with a man, or that she was divinely impregnated. Dr. Livingston looks at things logically while Mother Miriam is insistent that the child was a child of god. The mere fact that the birth resulted in the murder of a child somewhat disputes Mother Miriam's whole argument and thus leaves the audience conflicted, for they want to embrace to possibility but are unable to, for accepting it would seem morally wrong; as if to admit that god would choose such an unstable vessel.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A Detective Story inside a Nunnery
What starts as a detective story about a very naïve nun and her dead baby, turns into a search for the truth and in the end (I won't give spoiler) it turns into something else that... Read more
Published 5 days ago by Richard
5.0 out of 5 stars Sticks with you
I like this movie-Jane Fonda and Anne Bancroft show their talents and Meg Tilly is very good-once again this was a movie that I caught myself watching every time it was on cable... Read more
Published 6 days ago by Danelle Reetz
5.0 out of 5 stars The movie has been around for a while.
The story is very good. You should give it a try. Its good to see Meg Tillie in a drama.
Published 1 month ago by Laura Drake
5.0 out of 5 stars Good movie
One of the better movies I have seen. I bought this for a school project and really liked the movie.
Published 1 month ago by M. Franco
5.0 out of 5 stars Agnes of God
I ordered this movie for a gift for my daughter. Didn't expect it before Christmas but made it just in time. She has watched it and loved the story.
Published 2 months ago by Owlsalive
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting
Again this was another stocking stuffer. It is a very good movie with great acting. It is a mystery/drama type movie.
Published 3 months ago by Natalie Firestone
5.0 out of 5 stars A Film Worth The Price
For sure! I couldn't think of a more fitting title for this review. Jane Fonda (who I am not mad for), Anne Bancroft (who I am mad for) and Meg Tilly (which I can take or leave)... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Endora Aphrattos
4.0 out of 5 stars Nice
This was purchased as a Christmas gift for a dear old time friend. I sure hope they liked it. Thanks.
Published 6 months ago by Paul James Martin
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my all time favorite movies
Ms. Tilly should have won the Oscar. Outstanding performance. This one will get your attention early and keep it. You have to have this in your library.its a classic.
Published 6 months ago by Kelley Smith
5.0 out of 5 stars Captivating
I watch about 10 movies a week being that I work from home and while many movies are good and I want to buy them on dvd, I can wait for most of them but not this movie, I watched... Read more
Published 7 months ago by T Mitchell
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