Agnes Of God


1h 38m 1985
Agnes Of God

Brief Synopsis

A psychiatrist tries to unravel the case of a young nun discovered with a dead baby.

Film Details

Also Known As
Agnes de Dios, Agnès de Dieu
MPAA Rating
Genre
Drama
Mystery
Adaptation
Religion
Release Date
1985
Production Company
Columbia Pictures; Manta Digital Sound & Picture; Metrocolor; Segue Music Inc
Distribution Company
Sony Pictures Releasing; 20th Century Fox International; Columbia-Emi-Warner; Sony Pictures Releasing
Location
Rockwood, Ontario, Canada; Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 38m

Synopsis

When a young nun is found to have given birth and then has killed the infant, a court appointed psychiatrist is sent to the convent to dtermine whether the young nun is fit to stand trial. However, the psychiatrist finds herself at odds with a strong-willed mother superior.

Crew

Ken Adam

Production Designer

Fabienne April

Costumer

Renee April

Costume Designer

Jeff Authors

Production Assistant

David Bailey

Assistant Director

John Board

1st Assistant Director

Daniel R Bradette

Assistant Property Master

Steven Brill

Production Assistant (Los Angeles)

Ann Brodie

Makeup Artist

Ursula Brooke

Costumer

J Tracy Budd

Property Master

Jan A Campbell

Assistant Production Accountant

Eve Cantor

Production Assistant

Mary Canty

1st Assistant Editor

Dougal Caron

Accountant

Rachelle Charron

Assistant Production Accountant

Robin Chaykin

Assistant (To Peter Palmer)

Alison Clark

Sound Editor

Dan Conley

On-Set Dresser

Christopher Cook

Production Assistant (Los Angeles)

David Crone

Steadicam Operator

Tony Currie

Sound Editor

Holly Dale

Dga Trainee

Susanna David

Script Supervisor

Georges Delerue

Music

Jaro Dick

Set Decorator

Theo Dimson

Main Title Design

Atilla Dory

Photography

Attila Dory

Photography

Bonnie Finnegan

Casting Assistant

Martin Freedman

On-Set Dresser

Ralph Gerling

Camera Operator

Anthony Gibbs

Editor

Justis Greene

Unit Production Manager

Austin Grimaldi

Sound Re-Recording Mixer

Joe Grimaldi

Sound Re-Recording Mixer

Rolf Harvey

Art Direction Assistant

Karen Hazzard

Local Casting

Madeline Henrie

2nd Assistant Director

Herb Heritage

Boom Operator

Richard Huggins

Special Effects

Stuart Hughes

Transportation Coordinator

Kevin Jewison

1st Assistant Camera

Michael Jewison

Location Manager

Norman Jewison

Producer

Debi Karolewski

Assistant

Grant Kelly

Craft Service

Candace Koethe

Assistant (To Norman Jewison (Los Angeles))

Lou Kramer

Producer

Sharon Lackie

Sound Editor

Bruce Lang

Editor

Paul Leblanc

Hair Stylist

Gary Liddiard

Makeup Artist

Richard Lightstone

Sound Mixer

Andy Malcolm

Sound Editor

Barbra Matis

Assistant Art Director

Sandra Mikitenko

Assistant

Charles Milhaupt

Associate Producer

Brian Montague

Gaffer

Sven Nykvist

Director Of Photography

Sven Nykvist

Other

Michael O'farrell

Sound Editor

Bonnie Palef

Associate Producer

Patrick Palmer

Producer

Ginette Pare

Location Manager

Hayward Parrott

Music Scoring Mixer

John Pielmeier

Screenwriter

John Pielmeier

Play As Source Material ("Agnes Of God")

Bill Pryde

2nd Assistant Camera

Gretchen Rennell

Casting (New York)

Richard Reseigne

Construction Coordinator

Valley Via Reseigne

Production Coordinator

Carrie Robbins

Special Effects

Helene Robitaille

Local Casting

Arthur Rowsell

Costumer

Carol Spier

Art Direction

Richard Stone

Music Editor

Shin Sugino

Stills

Randal Tambling

Key Grip

Frank Teunissen

Grip

Ron Thiessen

Special Effects Coordinator

Peter Thillaye

Supervising Sound Editor

Rae Thurston

Best Boy

Line Tremblay

Production Assistant

Guy Trinque

Location Manager

Tom Udell

Production Accountant

Kenneth Waissman

Producer

Sandy Webb

Production Coordinator

Joanne Wetzel

Assistant

Don White

Sound Re-Recording Mixer

Nancy Willen

Unit Publicist

Videos

Movie Clip

Agnes Of God (1985) - Open, Mon Dieu! Plausible enough that this is Norman Jewison directing, on Quebec locations, with camera by Sven Nykvist and design by Ken Adam, opening the 1985 adaptation of the widely-praised play (and screenplay) by John Pielmeier, only Anne Bancroft among the three stars seen here, in Agnes Of God, 1985, with Jane Fonda and Meg Tilly.
Agnes Of God (1985) - Dr. Livingston I Presume? As Montreal court-appointed psychiatrist Livingston on her first visit to the convent where a baby born to a nun died, Jane Fonda is struck by the candor of Mother Superior Miriam Ruth (Anne Bancroft), whose opinions appear to present a problem, Norman Jewison directing from the play and screenplay by John Pielmeier, in Agnes Of God, 1985.
Agnes Of God (1985) - Tell The Court She's Insane Jane Fonda’s first scene, as Montreal psychiatrist Martha Livingston, passes by the title character (Meg Tilly), charged with killing her baby, and her Mother Superior (Anne Bancroft), then consults with colleagues (Francoise Faucher as Eve) about the case, early in Norman Jewison’s Agnes Of God, 1985, from the play by John Pielmeier.
Agnes Of God (1985) - How Are Babies Born? Court-appointed psychiatrist Livingston (Jane Fonda) begins her first interview with the title character (Meg Tilly), a Quebec nun who gave birth to a baby, either stillborn or killed, and who, we learn, has no conventional explanation, in Agnes Of God, 1985, directed by Norman Jewison, also starring Anne Bancroft.
Agnes Of God (1985) - God Blew Up The Hindenburg Court-appointed Psychiatrist Livingston (Jane Fonda) is shown the room where the title character nun (Meg Tilly) gave birth to a baby that died, her mother superior (Anne Bancroft) making clear that she won’t face facts, leading to a deft flashback by director Norman Jewison, in Agnes Of God, 1985.

Hosted Intro

Film Details

Also Known As
Agnes de Dios, Agnès de Dieu
MPAA Rating
Genre
Drama
Mystery
Adaptation
Religion
Release Date
1985
Production Company
Columbia Pictures; Manta Digital Sound & Picture; Metrocolor; Segue Music Inc
Distribution Company
Sony Pictures Releasing; 20th Century Fox International; Columbia-Emi-Warner; Sony Pictures Releasing
Location
Rockwood, Ontario, Canada; Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 38m

Award Nominations

Best Actress

1985
Anne Bancroft

Best Score

1985

Best Supporting Actress

1985
Meg Tilly

Articles

Agnes of God


Inside an isolated convent during the dead of night, an ethereal young nun, Sister Agnes (Meg Tilly), secretly gives birth to a baby after hiding her pregnancy for nine months in the 1985 drama Agnes of God. When the newborn is discovered dead soon after the delivery, Agnes becomes the object of a criminal investigation. A court appointed psychiatrist, Dr. Martha Livingston (Jane Fonda), is assigned to look into the unusual case and determine whether or not Sister Agnes is mentally competent to stand trial for the murder of her baby. Agnes' Mother Superior (Anne Bancroft) tells Dr. Livingston that Agnes is a pure soul and the child was a miracle from God. However, the cynical Dr. Livingston isn't buying it. Did someone take advantage of Agnes, or was it another immaculate conception? Together the woman of faith (Bancroft) and the woman of reason (Fonda) try to figure out the truth of what really happened to Sister Agnes. In his 2004 autobiography This Terrible Business Has Been Good to Me director Norman Jewison describes the story of Agnes of God as "the struggle between Freudian logic and Catholic faith. The film would test our ability to believe in miracles."

Agnes of God began as a play by John Pielmeier, who also wrote the screenplay. It opened on Broadway in 1982 and starred Geraldine Page as the Mother Superior, Elizabeth Ashley as the psychiatrist, and Amanda Plummer as Sister Agnes, who won a Tony award for her highly praised performance.

Norman Jewison was already familiar with the play before it hit Broadway. He thought it was "brilliant" and that writer John Peilmeier was "one of the really talented young playwrights in New York." When he decided to make the film, he already had Jane Fonda in mind to play Dr. Livingston and hired her right away. "Jane Fonda would be fabulous," he told then Columbia Pictures president Guy McElwaine. "She is strong-willed, no-nonsense, a great star."

When the word got out that he was casting for Agnes of God, Jewison received a phone call from actress Anne Bancroft telling him that she wanted to play the Mother Superior character. "When I said I'd get back to her," recalls Jewison in his autobiography, "she persisted: 'I'm married to a director, I know that none of you know how to make up your minds. I'm going to help you with the decision.'" He told her that she was too young and beautiful for the part. "For me," he told Bancroft, "you'll always be Mrs. Robinson. You're sexy, sensual...I don't see you as a Mother Superior, Anne." To that, Bancroft hung up the phone and told him that she was coming over to his office right that minute.

"Twenty minutes later," says Jewison, "Anne Bancroft swept in, pulled up a chair, sat down, leaned across, looked me in the eye, and said, 'So this is Mrs. Robinson? Look at these lines. Look at me.' She wore no makeup, she was pale, there were dark half-moons under her eyes." Jewison, who happened to have a nun's habit costume in his office, asked her to put it on. "So there we were, five minutes later, Anne in the wimple and veil, both of us staring into the meanly lighted mirror, her hair and lovely hands covered by the nun's habit," he recalls, "and I realized she would be a superb Mother Miriam Ruth in Agnes of God."

Meg Tilly, who had previously garnered praise for her performance in The Big Chill (1983), was Jewison's choice to play Sister Agnes. Having once compared her screen presence to that of Audrey Hepburn's, Jewison describes Tilly in his autobiography as "a classic beauty and an accomplished actress...She also had the wide-eyed innocence of the young nun...In the courtroom there is a moment of complete pathos where she has lost-not her life-but her mind, and she carried it off more convincingly than anyone else could have done."

The play of Agnes of God had been staged very sparsely with just the three actresses on a blank stage. Jewison, a native Canadian, decided to open the play up for the film and set the action specifically at a convent in Quebec. "The atmosphere in Quebec," he explains, "was steeped in Catholic mysticism; it was a place where miracles were still expected to happen."

Agnes of God was shot entirely on location in Canada during the dead of winter. This appealed to Jewison because it gave him the chance to not only be on his home turf, but also to use a Canadian crew and have his wife and three children nearby as well. The former Rockwood Academy for Boys in Ontario was transformed by Production Designer Ken Adam into the convent. Longtime Ingmar Bergman cinematographer Sven Nykvist photographed the film, capturing some gorgeous images of the bleak Canadian winter that provides a stunning backdrop to the compelling drama.

Reviews at the time were generally positive, with praise heaped on Bancroft, Fonda and Tilly for their strong work in three very different and demanding parts. "Bancroft gives a generally highly engaging performance as a religious woman too knowledgeable to be one-upped by even the craftiest layman," said Variety. "Tilly is angelically beautiful as the troubled youngster and brings a convincing innocence and sincerity to the role that would be hard to match." Time magazine said, "All three stars do smart, honorable work: Tilly, her childlike faith traumatized by the rude stirrings of womanhood; Fonda, the reluctant exorcist fiercely questioning her old God and, no less, herself; and Bancroft, a strict but up-to-date nun, with reserves of iron and irony." Bancroft and Tilly both received Academy Award nominations for their work, as did Georges Delerue for his haunting musical score.

The gripping mystery of Agnes of God will keep viewers riveted and resonate long after the film is over. For Norman Jewison, the film gave him a chance to explore some deeply personal issues. "I think most people, regardless of their religion, regardless of logic, want to believe in something outside of their everyday lives. Outside of themselves," he says in his autobiography. "Agnes of God gave me the opportunity to explore that timeless human conflict between believing what we can see and believing what we can't see or experience. It seemed to me then, as it does now, that the world is in dire need of angels."

Producers: Norman Jewison, Patrick Palmer
Director: Norman Jewison
Screenplay: John Pielmeier (screenplay and play)
Cinematography: Sven Nykvist
Art Direction: Carol Spier
Music: Georges Delerue
Film Editing: Antony Gibbs
Cast: Jane Fonda (Dr. Martha Livingston), Anne Bancroft (Mother Miriam Ruth), Meg Tilly (Sister Agnes), Anne Pitoniak (Dr. Livingston's mother), Winston Rekert (Detective Langevin), Gratien Gelinas (Father Martineau), Guy Hoffman (Justice Joseph Leveau), Gabriel Arcand (Monsignor), Francoise Faucher (Eve LeClaire).
C-95m. Letterboxed. Closed captioning.

by Andrea Passafiume
Agnes Of God

Agnes of God

Inside an isolated convent during the dead of night, an ethereal young nun, Sister Agnes (Meg Tilly), secretly gives birth to a baby after hiding her pregnancy for nine months in the 1985 drama Agnes of God. When the newborn is discovered dead soon after the delivery, Agnes becomes the object of a criminal investigation. A court appointed psychiatrist, Dr. Martha Livingston (Jane Fonda), is assigned to look into the unusual case and determine whether or not Sister Agnes is mentally competent to stand trial for the murder of her baby. Agnes' Mother Superior (Anne Bancroft) tells Dr. Livingston that Agnes is a pure soul and the child was a miracle from God. However, the cynical Dr. Livingston isn't buying it. Did someone take advantage of Agnes, or was it another immaculate conception? Together the woman of faith (Bancroft) and the woman of reason (Fonda) try to figure out the truth of what really happened to Sister Agnes. In his 2004 autobiography This Terrible Business Has Been Good to Me director Norman Jewison describes the story of Agnes of God as "the struggle between Freudian logic and Catholic faith. The film would test our ability to believe in miracles." Agnes of God began as a play by John Pielmeier, who also wrote the screenplay. It opened on Broadway in 1982 and starred Geraldine Page as the Mother Superior, Elizabeth Ashley as the psychiatrist, and Amanda Plummer as Sister Agnes, who won a Tony award for her highly praised performance. Norman Jewison was already familiar with the play before it hit Broadway. He thought it was "brilliant" and that writer John Peilmeier was "one of the really talented young playwrights in New York." When he decided to make the film, he already had Jane Fonda in mind to play Dr. Livingston and hired her right away. "Jane Fonda would be fabulous," he told then Columbia Pictures president Guy McElwaine. "She is strong-willed, no-nonsense, a great star." When the word got out that he was casting for Agnes of God, Jewison received a phone call from actress Anne Bancroft telling him that she wanted to play the Mother Superior character. "When I said I'd get back to her," recalls Jewison in his autobiography, "she persisted: 'I'm married to a director, I know that none of you know how to make up your minds. I'm going to help you with the decision.'" He told her that she was too young and beautiful for the part. "For me," he told Bancroft, "you'll always be Mrs. Robinson. You're sexy, sensual...I don't see you as a Mother Superior, Anne." To that, Bancroft hung up the phone and told him that she was coming over to his office right that minute. "Twenty minutes later," says Jewison, "Anne Bancroft swept in, pulled up a chair, sat down, leaned across, looked me in the eye, and said, 'So this is Mrs. Robinson? Look at these lines. Look at me.' She wore no makeup, she was pale, there were dark half-moons under her eyes." Jewison, who happened to have a nun's habit costume in his office, asked her to put it on. "So there we were, five minutes later, Anne in the wimple and veil, both of us staring into the meanly lighted mirror, her hair and lovely hands covered by the nun's habit," he recalls, "and I realized she would be a superb Mother Miriam Ruth in Agnes of God." Meg Tilly, who had previously garnered praise for her performance in The Big Chill (1983), was Jewison's choice to play Sister Agnes. Having once compared her screen presence to that of Audrey Hepburn's, Jewison describes Tilly in his autobiography as "a classic beauty and an accomplished actress...She also had the wide-eyed innocence of the young nun...In the courtroom there is a moment of complete pathos where she has lost-not her life-but her mind, and she carried it off more convincingly than anyone else could have done." The play of Agnes of God had been staged very sparsely with just the three actresses on a blank stage. Jewison, a native Canadian, decided to open the play up for the film and set the action specifically at a convent in Quebec. "The atmosphere in Quebec," he explains, "was steeped in Catholic mysticism; it was a place where miracles were still expected to happen." Agnes of God was shot entirely on location in Canada during the dead of winter. This appealed to Jewison because it gave him the chance to not only be on his home turf, but also to use a Canadian crew and have his wife and three children nearby as well. The former Rockwood Academy for Boys in Ontario was transformed by Production Designer Ken Adam into the convent. Longtime Ingmar Bergman cinematographer Sven Nykvist photographed the film, capturing some gorgeous images of the bleak Canadian winter that provides a stunning backdrop to the compelling drama. Reviews at the time were generally positive, with praise heaped on Bancroft, Fonda and Tilly for their strong work in three very different and demanding parts. "Bancroft gives a generally highly engaging performance as a religious woman too knowledgeable to be one-upped by even the craftiest layman," said Variety. "Tilly is angelically beautiful as the troubled youngster and brings a convincing innocence and sincerity to the role that would be hard to match." Time magazine said, "All three stars do smart, honorable work: Tilly, her childlike faith traumatized by the rude stirrings of womanhood; Fonda, the reluctant exorcist fiercely questioning her old God and, no less, herself; and Bancroft, a strict but up-to-date nun, with reserves of iron and irony." Bancroft and Tilly both received Academy Award nominations for their work, as did Georges Delerue for his haunting musical score. The gripping mystery of Agnes of God will keep viewers riveted and resonate long after the film is over. For Norman Jewison, the film gave him a chance to explore some deeply personal issues. "I think most people, regardless of their religion, regardless of logic, want to believe in something outside of their everyday lives. Outside of themselves," he says in his autobiography. "Agnes of God gave me the opportunity to explore that timeless human conflict between believing what we can see and believing what we can't see or experience. It seemed to me then, as it does now, that the world is in dire need of angels." Producers: Norman Jewison, Patrick Palmer Director: Norman Jewison Screenplay: John Pielmeier (screenplay and play) Cinematography: Sven Nykvist Art Direction: Carol Spier Music: Georges Delerue Film Editing: Antony Gibbs Cast: Jane Fonda (Dr. Martha Livingston), Anne Bancroft (Mother Miriam Ruth), Meg Tilly (Sister Agnes), Anne Pitoniak (Dr. Livingston's mother), Winston Rekert (Detective Langevin), Gratien Gelinas (Father Martineau), Guy Hoffman (Justice Joseph Leveau), Gabriel Arcand (Monsignor), Francoise Faucher (Eve LeClaire). C-95m. Letterboxed. Closed captioning. by Andrea Passafiume

Quotes

Trivia

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States Summer August 23, 1985

Wide Release in United States September 20, 1985

Began shooting October 27, 1984.

Completed shooting March 14, 1985.

Released in United States Summer August 23, 1985

Wide Release in United States September 20, 1985