Analysis Of Female Characters In The Magdalene Sisters

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Peter Mullan in his award-winning movie, The Magdalene Sisters fictionalizes and reimagines the life stories of four former Magdalene asylum victims based on their testimonies in documentary Sex in a Cold Climate filmed in 2007. The film strongly criticizes the cruelties that took place between the walls of these institutions and the Roman Catholic Church. While genre-wise it is obviously a drama, however, it may easily be interpreted as a horror movie due to numerous elements distinctive of the genre. According to classical film theory the abject imagery is a fundamental piece in horror. The photography of The Magdalene Sisters is following this tendency by utilizing the female bodies, that is of the victims of the asylum, to create raw and realistic images, all the while connecting them to sexual, physical and mental impurities. However, the true horror lies within the characters of the nuns who are represented as the totalitarian leaders and torturers of the covenant who ceaselessly attack female bodies and sexuality. In the following I propose to explore the devices used in The Magdalene Sisters creating the horroristic atmosphere placing emphasis on the representation of the female characters and their bodies that contribute to it. Gender as such is a crucial point when elaborating on who are the supposed “monsters” in The Magdalene Sisters, as there is not just one of them. Through Mullan’s scope the first victimizers appear to be the male members of the society:

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