Storia di Una Monaca di Clausura


1h 37m 1973

Brief Synopsis

A woman who was promised to a powerful family's son at birth falls in love with another man, refuses to renounce him, and is sent to a nunnery by her shocked parents. Once there, she first undergoes degradation to acclimatize her to convent life; then she experiences rampant lesbianism by the repressed nuns, and becomes pregnant by her lover. Finally, her refusal to accede to one nun's lascivious lesbian advances leads to plotting and treachery, and her lover being murdered out of jealousy. Her life now ruined, she further scandalises her family by refusing to take her vows, and leaves the convent, devoting her existence to those in need. Claims to be based on a true story !

Film Details

Also Known As
Diary of a Cloistered Nun
Release Date
1973
Production Company
SND-Groupe M6

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 37m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Technicolor)

Synopsis

A woman who was promised to a powerful family's son at birth falls in love with another man, refuses to renounce him, and is sent to a nunnery by her shocked parents. Once there, she first undergoes degradation to acclimatize her to convent life; then she experiences rampant lesbianism by the repressed nuns, and becomes pregnant by her lover. Finally, her refusal to accede to one nun's lascivious lesbian advances leads to plotting and treachery, and her lover being murdered out of jealousy. Her life now ruined, she further scandalises her family by refusing to take her vows, and leaves the convent, devoting her existence to those in need. Claims to be based on a true story !

Film Details

Also Known As
Diary of a Cloistered Nun
Release Date
1973
Production Company
SND-Groupe M6

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 37m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Technicolor)

Articles

Story of a Cloistered Nun on DVD


Be aware: there is such a thing, in the bowels of moviegoer history, amid the ephemera of junk cinema and low-brow neo-vaudeville, as the nunsploitation film. There are also, apparently, nunsploitation fans, a simple fact that can by itself rejigger your view of your fellow man. All so-called "psychotronic" subgenres have their peculiarities, and, therefore, so must their devoted audiences, but nunsploitation is a breed apart, a category of entertainment arguably unrivaled for its rich mix of taboo desecration, Freudian fever, cultural-historical fetishism, and raw sideshow allure. We can simply define these films as historical melodramas that are (A) primarily concerned with softcore hanky-panky, and (B) center on nuns. That's all there is to it, and as you might imagine, the seductive traction of such films is at its strongest in European countries that are massively Catholic (Italy, France, Poland) and also still engaged with their post-medieval pasts. (There are no American nunsploitation films to speak of.) For the subgenre to work its reputed magic, the viewer still has to be waist-deep in a culture in which the secret, disreputable goings-on of 18th-century convents still supply a transgressive, or at least visceral, thrill.

Domenico Paollela's Story of a Cloistered Nun (1973) isn't the seminal nunsploitation saga (that distinction arguably belongs to Luchino's-nephew Eriprando Visconti's The Nun of Monza, released in 1969). But it stands with Paollela's other 1973 film The Nuns of St. Archangel as the category's classy foundation, its Tammy and the Bachelor, if you will – literate, conscientiously dramatic, lavishly executed and tastily suggestive of what later entries would explore graphically. (The nunsploitation standard as it became known in the '70s-'80s grade-Z grindhouse films of Jess Franco and Joe D'Amato has stood harmlessly shy of nothing but hardcore sex; feigned torture and delirious gore were commonplace, and non-stop nudity was the rule.) While hardly scandalous, Paollela's film embodies the nunsploitative dynamic, which is in itself fascinating. The story begins with an arranged 17th century marriage between infants; leaping ahead, the movie takes us to free-spirit Carmela (Eleonora Giorgi), who resists the marriage as a teenager, and is summarily consigned to the local nunnery. For Carmela, life there is an ordeal of debasement, discomfort and ritual; for us, it's one leering, lusty lesbian entendre after another, with languorous undressings and whippings hot enough to make the Mother Superior (pulp mistress Suzy Kendall) bite her lip with lust.

The dimly aware, hairshirted Carmela soon discovers that beneath this repressed order is a bubbling stew of sexual craziness, predominated by state-penitentiary-style alliances and including after-hours episodes of dress-up, drinking, stripping and bed-hopping, nuns with nuns and sometimes with rakish noblemen from town. The raunch is fastidiously soft and decorative, never realistic. Still, the film is supposed to be incendiary. It is never suggested that this particular cloister has suffered a unique kind of moral breakdown – the film is essentially a defilement of traditional Italian Catholicism, matter-of-factly asserting that holy orders in general have always been seedbeds for bottled sex, perversion and sadism. Nuns are only good for baring naked, and rules of chastity and abstinence are just for show.

Of course, the sacredness of Catholic self-sacrifice and the purity of nuns have to first be matters of substance to you in order for the racy sacrilege of Story of a Cloistered Nun to have an impact. Are nunsploitation fans all recovering altar boys and Old World-village Catholics? Our guess is not; the Catholic iconography and antiquated notions of virgin-brides-of-Christ are, it seems, objects of camp derision by now, and movies like Paollela's are petite Guignol experiences whose outrages are nearly as quaint as the piety they long to despoil. (Still, one would never want to underestimate the power of a fetish.) As other critics have pointed out, nunsploitation films are the B-side to women's-prison films – both are cartoony, idealized mini-arenas for the expression of masculine frustration. Sequester the women and watch the animal lust and the urge for debasement that only men are supposed to possess rise to the top. But keep it pulpy – convincing sex or suffering would spoil the fun.

Paollela's actresses are all gorgeous and iconic, and all crippled in their emotive ambitions by the standard-practice Italian film industry post-dubbing. A busy veteran of Italian "Maciste" sword-&-sandal matinee fodder, the director keeps the action hustling along, through a huge stucco set that calls to mind both Dreyer's The Passion of Joan of Arc and Fritz Lang's Siegfried. But for the uninitiated Story of a Cloistered Nun is most fruitfully taken as a window not on its filmmakers or even Italian genre fluff from the '70s, but on the demi-cult of subgenre fans that have emerged since and have found congress at websites such as nunsploitation.net. Their collective fetish-driven brainpan can be an amusing and nostalgic place to visit, but only you know if you'll want to take up residence.

For more information about Story of a Cloistered Nun, visit NoShame Films. To order Story of a Cloistered Nun, go to TCM Shopping.

by Michael Atkinson
Story Of A Cloistered Nun On Dvd

Story of a Cloistered Nun on DVD

Be aware: there is such a thing, in the bowels of moviegoer history, amid the ephemera of junk cinema and low-brow neo-vaudeville, as the nunsploitation film. There are also, apparently, nunsploitation fans, a simple fact that can by itself rejigger your view of your fellow man. All so-called "psychotronic" subgenres have their peculiarities, and, therefore, so must their devoted audiences, but nunsploitation is a breed apart, a category of entertainment arguably unrivaled for its rich mix of taboo desecration, Freudian fever, cultural-historical fetishism, and raw sideshow allure. We can simply define these films as historical melodramas that are (A) primarily concerned with softcore hanky-panky, and (B) center on nuns. That's all there is to it, and as you might imagine, the seductive traction of such films is at its strongest in European countries that are massively Catholic (Italy, France, Poland) and also still engaged with their post-medieval pasts. (There are no American nunsploitation films to speak of.) For the subgenre to work its reputed magic, the viewer still has to be waist-deep in a culture in which the secret, disreputable goings-on of 18th-century convents still supply a transgressive, or at least visceral, thrill. Domenico Paollela's Story of a Cloistered Nun (1973) isn't the seminal nunsploitation saga (that distinction arguably belongs to Luchino's-nephew Eriprando Visconti's The Nun of Monza, released in 1969). But it stands with Paollela's other 1973 film The Nuns of St. Archangel as the category's classy foundation, its Tammy and the Bachelor, if you will – literate, conscientiously dramatic, lavishly executed and tastily suggestive of what later entries would explore graphically. (The nunsploitation standard as it became known in the '70s-'80s grade-Z grindhouse films of Jess Franco and Joe D'Amato has stood harmlessly shy of nothing but hardcore sex; feigned torture and delirious gore were commonplace, and non-stop nudity was the rule.) While hardly scandalous, Paollela's film embodies the nunsploitative dynamic, which is in itself fascinating. The story begins with an arranged 17th century marriage between infants; leaping ahead, the movie takes us to free-spirit Carmela (Eleonora Giorgi), who resists the marriage as a teenager, and is summarily consigned to the local nunnery. For Carmela, life there is an ordeal of debasement, discomfort and ritual; for us, it's one leering, lusty lesbian entendre after another, with languorous undressings and whippings hot enough to make the Mother Superior (pulp mistress Suzy Kendall) bite her lip with lust. The dimly aware, hairshirted Carmela soon discovers that beneath this repressed order is a bubbling stew of sexual craziness, predominated by state-penitentiary-style alliances and including after-hours episodes of dress-up, drinking, stripping and bed-hopping, nuns with nuns and sometimes with rakish noblemen from town. The raunch is fastidiously soft and decorative, never realistic. Still, the film is supposed to be incendiary. It is never suggested that this particular cloister has suffered a unique kind of moral breakdown – the film is essentially a defilement of traditional Italian Catholicism, matter-of-factly asserting that holy orders in general have always been seedbeds for bottled sex, perversion and sadism. Nuns are only good for baring naked, and rules of chastity and abstinence are just for show. Of course, the sacredness of Catholic self-sacrifice and the purity of nuns have to first be matters of substance to you in order for the racy sacrilege of Story of a Cloistered Nun to have an impact. Are nunsploitation fans all recovering altar boys and Old World-village Catholics? Our guess is not; the Catholic iconography and antiquated notions of virgin-brides-of-Christ are, it seems, objects of camp derision by now, and movies like Paollela's are petite Guignol experiences whose outrages are nearly as quaint as the piety they long to despoil. (Still, one would never want to underestimate the power of a fetish.) As other critics have pointed out, nunsploitation films are the B-side to women's-prison films – both are cartoony, idealized mini-arenas for the expression of masculine frustration. Sequester the women and watch the animal lust and the urge for debasement that only men are supposed to possess rise to the top. But keep it pulpy – convincing sex or suffering would spoil the fun. Paollela's actresses are all gorgeous and iconic, and all crippled in their emotive ambitions by the standard-practice Italian film industry post-dubbing. A busy veteran of Italian "Maciste" sword-&-sandal matinee fodder, the director keeps the action hustling along, through a huge stucco set that calls to mind both Dreyer's The Passion of Joan of Arc and Fritz Lang's Siegfried. But for the uninitiated Story of a Cloistered Nun is most fruitfully taken as a window not on its filmmakers or even Italian genre fluff from the '70s, but on the demi-cult of subgenre fans that have emerged since and have found congress at websites such as nunsploitation.net. Their collective fetish-driven brainpan can be an amusing and nostalgic place to visit, but only you know if you'll want to take up residence. For more information about Story of a Cloistered Nun, visit NoShame Films. To order Story of a Cloistered Nun, go to TCM Shopping. by Michael Atkinson

Quotes

Trivia

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States 1973

Released in United States 1973