8 October 2003 | Old Joe
Brides of Christ' is my favourite mini- series, and one that exceeded all my expectations!
I was very young when the ABC presented the critically acclaimed Australian mini-series, Brides of Christ' on Australian TV, back in 1991. All I knew is that I wanted to see it one day. Now that day has come. It tells the story of Roman Catholic nuns and life at their boarding school during the 1960s, showing the struggles for freedom, choice and tradition to be upheld at such a prestigious institution. With a great cast, and wonderful story, this is great entertainment for Catholics and any other religious denomination that might be fascinated as to what it means to be the Brides of Christ'.
Behind the high convent walls, their lives are circumscribed by centuries old tradition, rites and disciplines. But in times of radical change and upheaval, the Brides of Christ are forced to reconcile the conflict between the ancient ways and the new. They are bound by vows, which set them apart, yet they must become part of the changing world. For many their faith will be sufficient to carry them through their personal crises. But some are tormented by questions that they cannot answer, disciplines they cannot follow and love they dare not feel. In their care are spirited teenagers, schooled in the old creed, yet eager to taste the new freedom.
The strongest aspect to the BOC' series has to be its story, brilliantly written by screenwriters John Alsop and Sue Smith. The story was very creative, confronting, emotional, fascinating and interesting to learn what it is like to live life not only as nun, but a Catholic as well. The content to the stories were also very deep and meaningful, covering such issues as the ways of the church, the convent's feelings on ideologies, divorce/marriage, friendships, defiance, sex and birth control. Also, having each show named after one main character of the series, then making them the main focus of that particular show, was very effective and something I liked. My favourite episodes in the series are titled Rosemary' and Catherine', as I found both too be brilliant.
BOC' was well directed by Ken Cameron, giving us a very in-depth look at what is like to be part of a convent. He also showed us many things onscreen that even I had thought were not possible to see. The series was produced by Sue Masters famous for other ABC programs such as G.P. I feel that a lot of the success for BOC' has to be attributed to Masters and her skills as a producer.
The series main stars include nuns such as Sister Agnes (Academy Award winner Brenda Fricker) and Mother Ambrose (Sandy Gore). Fricker shows here why she was chosen as a lead character for the program. While Gore shows a very strong presence onscreen, which suits the role she undertook as the mother of the convent.
You then have the younger nuns like Diane/Sister Catherine (Josephine Byrnes) and Sister Paul (Lisa Hensley). The transformation that takes place over both characters is fascinating to see. Catherine is a very liberal minded nun, as she takes a different point of view on many issues that are usually thought about in a very conservative manner by the nuns and the church. Paul is a funny character to watch, as she is very immature and naïve about life and its many experiences. However when she becomes a highly respected nun, she also turns out to be a very good school teacher at the same time.
The younger cast of BOC was also very good. Three best friends are Frances Heffernan (Naomi Watts), Rosemary Fitzgerald (Kym Wilson) and Bridget Maloney (Melissa Thomas), who show many times throughout BOC, that good friends are very hard to find. These girls are very big within the school, causing quite a commotion many times. Rosemary was my favourite character in BOC, as I found her stubbornness and defiance most noteworthy. Kym Wilson's performance as this character was terrific.
There was also some fine acting talent in very minor roles in BOC. The biggest has to be Bridget's brother, Dominic Maloney (Hollywood star Russel Crowe), who has a big effect on Rosemary. There was a teacher, Ian McGregor (Phillip Quast), who creates quite an impression at the convent, and a priest, Jack (Simon Burke), who Sister Paul is very keen on at one stage. However, Jack's views on life and the church are very weird to workout. Other characters include the Bishop (Michael Craig), Rosemary's mother, Judith Fitzgerald (the dish's Genevieve Mooy) and another of Bridget's siblings, Brendan Maloney (Brian Rooney).
The TV theme was subtly effective in the Brides of Christ'. I like how it made me feel at the start and end of each episode, as it was just what the show needed. The music was composed by Mario Millo. The costumes designed for BOC were excellent, especially showing both the traditional and newer style of uniform for the nuns. This aspect of the series was done by Annie Marshall.
Brides of Christ', is a mini-series not just showing religious themes as such, but is also open to show what it means to defy the church and experience all of life's other wonders. It is my opinion that this show while being quite controversial was also very brave at the same time. My church has recently handed down a decision that I believe will separate the church, very much like some of the issues presented on BOC'. The only reservation I had about watching a series such as this, were the feelings I had towards the Roman Catholic Church, which are very strong. While everyone is entitled to follow any religion they feel suits them, the Catholic's viewpoint on many issues is hard for me to accept and understand. While I am not a member of the Catholic Church, boy I am glad I was finally able to experience the great wonders of the Brides of Christ'.
CMRS gives Brides of Christ': 5 (Brilliant Mini-Series)