Back to Films

Film Detail

Add to research

The Magdalene Sisters


The Magdalene Asylums in Ireland were run by the Sisters of Mercy on behalf of the Catholic Church. Young girls were sent there by families or orphanages and once there, were imprisoned and sent to work in the laundries where they could atone for their sins. Their sins varied from being unmarried mothers to being too pretty, too ugly, simple minded, too clever or being a victim of rape and talking about it. And for their sins they worked 364 days a year unpaid, they were half starved, beaten, humiliated, raped, their children forcibly removed from them. Their sentence was indefinite. Thousands of women lived and died there. The last Magdalene Asylum in Ireland closed in 1996, five years ago.

This film is from the point of view of four of these young women in the 1960s, an era mistakenly seen by some as a time of unchallenged female liberation. These young Catholic women find themselves in an almost medieval nightmare whilst the outside world tacitly (or in some cases actively) supports a theocratic state. It looks at how their personalities develop for better and for worse in an environment controlled and dominated by celibate women, servants of God, Brides of Christ. In their own ways the girls refuse to be beaten, but what victory is there if they remain imprisoned as little more than slaves? One gets out in a heartbreakingly banal fashion, one is imprisoned in a mental asylum, two finally rebel, run away, escape.

It is a fictional film that unfortunately happens to be true.


Type of film
Running Time
157 mins
35mm Kodak
Peter Mullan
Alan J.Wands
Alan J.Wands
Colin Monie
Peter Mullan
Director of Photography
Nigel Willoughby
Colin Nicolson
Craig Armstrong
Principal Cast
Geraldine McEwan, Anne-Marie Duff, Nora-Jane Noone, Dorothy Duffy, Eileen Walsh, Mary Murray, Britta Smith, Frances Healy, Eitane McGuinness

Production status


Please let us know if we need to make any amendments to this Film entry mailing us directly at

Last updated 26th November 2005

Production Company

P.F.P. Films Ltd
Contact: Frances Higson
Flat 1
217 Kenmure Street
Glasgow G41 2LP

T 00 44 (0)141 423 0213
F 00 44 (0)141 423 0213


Wildbunch (a division of StudioCanal France)
231 Portobello Road
London W11 1LT

T 00 44 (0)20 7792 9791