23 Noviembre 2016 00:34
December 1945. Winter tightens its grip on post-war Poland. At the edge of a forest, an isolated convent breaks the barren monotony of the snowbound landscape.
It is in this small corner of Poland, located on the outskirts of war-ravaged Warsaw, that the story of The Innocents unfolds. This French-Polish film, based on actual events, was directed by Luxembourg-born Anne Fontaine.
The story begins with a devastating panorama: orphans play amongst the ruins, while the French Red Cross attends to the wounded, on the border between Germany and Poland.
Mathilde Beaulieu (Lou de Laâge), a young French medical student and atheist is approached by a Polish nun who pleads with Mathilde to come with her to attend to one of the sisters at the convent.
When Mathilde arrives, she’s shocked to discover that one of the nuns is in labour.
Mathilde successfully improvises an emergency caesarean, and both baby and mother are saved. Mathilde offers to continue caring for the young nun but the mother superior is opposed to the idea. Nonetheless, with the help of the new mother Beaulieu obtains permission to come back and check up on her in secret.
Upon her return to the convent, Mathilde sees a nun faint and realizes that she must be pregnant too. And she’s not the only one.
Mathilde soon finds out that seven of the nuns are pregnant.
Only then does the mother superior understand that she has no choice but to confess the truth. “The war had ended; but for us, hell was just beginning.”
Soon after the war had come to an end, Russian troops forced their way into the convent. They stayed there for several days, repeatedly raping and traumatizing the nuns.The Innocents, whose first UK screening was at the London Film Festival on 14 October, finally brought to light the horrifically traumatic experience suffered by these nuns who’d been forced to hide the truth from the church for fear of losing the convent.
In the film, Mathilde Beaulieu helps the sisters come to terms with their doubts and misgivings about maternity: a condition they’d never expected to find themselves in.
Speaking to the Financial Times, Anne Fontaine said: "The film received a warm response from the Vatican. In Poland, it was applauded."
Only one major territory has found no distributor for the film: Russia.
"It’s not an anti-Russian film,” says the director. “But no, it seems they do not want to see it.”