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the magdalene sisters (9-19-3)

Plenty of spoilers here, but that's not the point.

First, for those of you who don't know of the film, it's about a Magdalene laundry/convent in Ireland in the sixties. The Magdalene convents were where the Catholic Church stuck victims of rape, mothers of bastard children, flirts, simpletons, whores, all the girls they didn't feel fit with what they wanted in their society. The main characters of the film, which is fictional though based on real concepts, are Margaret, a victim of rape--the rapist seems to get nothing more than a talking to--Rose (who has to take the name Patricia upon entering the convent since they already have a rose), who had a child out of wedlock (the child is put up for adoption), and Bernadette, an orphan who did little more than flirt before entering the convent. Of course, as one of the sisters says later, it was bad enough that, though she'd never been with a lad, she would have liked to be.

The film follows their lives in the convent for upwards of four years. The only specific mention of time passing comes when Margaret?s brother arrives, now old enough to authorize her removal from the convent; otherwise there's healing of wounds and growing of hair and the vague notion that these girls could very well spend their lives in the place (there are numerous grown women in the convent who have obviously spent their lives there, and not just the nuns). They are forced to wear plain clothes, to perform hard labor (industrial laundry was the way these convents made money) and when they speak out of turn or do something they shouldn't (which often amounts to very little) they are summarily given a few lashes or beaten with a belt. At one point a group of girls are lined up naked and a "game" is played to see who has the largest breasts, the smallest breasts, the largest butt, the most pubic hair. Contact with the outside world is forbidden. When one girl, Una escapes to go home, her fathers drags her back, having already beaten her and proceeding to beat her again when she begs him not to leave her there. And, the disturbing images go on and on. One somewhat simple minded girl tries to hang herself, tries to make herself sick with the flu so she can die without sinning. Bernadette, just a flirt before, makes direct advances at a delivery boy in exchange for help escaping. She also steals Una's Saint Christopher medal, contributing greatly to Una?s mental breakdown, because, as Bernadette says they're "supposed to suffer."

It's common enough knowledge that the Catholic Church has done shit like this for, well, ever. But, to sit down for two hours and watch this stuff on the screen (I wonder now, how graphic the documentary that inspired this film ("sex in a cold climate") might be) is a very different thing altogether than just thinking about it. And, I?ve got plenty of imagination generally for imagery. But, this film pissed me off. And I don't mean that it was a bad film. It was a great film, well made, well acted, well written. Whatever I may have not totally hated about the catholic church and all the shit people do in the name of their religious beliefs--well, this film did a great job quashing any good feelings I may have had in that regard. The conclusion I come to, which I already believed but now wish I could do something about, drastic, immediate, this world is full of a hell of a lot of seriously fucked up people, torturing others in the name of what they claim is goodness, religion, god. And, to be honest, they need to be stopped. People need to be stopped from being people, cruel people, murderous, torturous, righteous people.