INT - CHAPEL - DAY
Nuns at prayer; MOTHER MIRIAM, the Superior closes the gate and locks it.
EXT - COURTYARD - DAY
The nuns walking around the courtyard in an anticlockwise direction saying the rosary.
INT - CHAPEL - DAY
A line of nuns kneeling at prayer. Closeups of various individuals.
EXT - CONVENT - NIGHT
A single shot of the building.
INT - TOP CORRIDOR - NIGHT
SISTER MARGUERITE is locking up for the night, shutting doors, turning off lights, finally walks off down the corridor. Suddenly a terrified scream is heard, the voice of a young woman.
EXT - CONVENT - NIGHT
Lights in the windows flick on.
INT - TOP CORRIDOR - NIGHT
The nuns are running up the corridor in their night dresses and caps, calling urgently in French. They reach the door of Sister Agnes' room and try the door. It is blocked. Pushing harder they see the blood stained figure of SISTER AGNES. Much alarm and crying...
They lift her on to the stretcher and run back down the hall. The Mother Superior looks around worriedly and goes into...I'm just going to put something here to stop the bleeding. Excuse me Sister. She'll be fine.
EXT - MONTREAL - NIGHT
An aerial shot of the great cross of Montreal. Superimposed over this are the words "MONTREAL, QUEBEC".
EXT - SUPREME COURT - DAY
A normal busy day. A car pulls up with a woman and a man driving. The woman is MARTHA LIVINGSTON. She kisses the man (LARRY), gets out of the car, runs across the road dodging traffic and goes up the steps of the courthouse. There a group of REPORTERS there and a sudden bustle of interest.
Martha watches intently as 3 nuns, the Mother Superior, Sister Marguerite, and Sister Agnes (dressed in a white novices habit) and their LAWYER come out of the court escorted by police. The reporters leap on them, taking photographs, asking questions in English and French. Suddenly Sister Agnes looks right at Martha, then she is quickly bustled past. Martha goes on into the courthouse.Here they are now.
Martha, it's you.
What about Roger? He's free.
They want a woman.
All you have to do is meet with her once or twice... then tell the court she's insane.
Are you dictating my position to me? We're getting into some sticky legal territories here.
Martha, all we're saying is, no-one wants this to come to trial, not the Church, not the Crown... least of all me.
Eve, she strangled a baby!
Nobody is interested in sending a nun to prison.
We're not telling you what to decide Martha. We're not even telling you to take this.
Martha pauses for a long moment at the window, then turns.Is there any reason why you feel you shouldn't take it?
The Judge, Eve and Lyon all chuckle. The Judge throws the file down on his desk towards her.Today's my birthday. I always make bad decisions on my birthday.
The answerphone whirs...Hi, Kitty.
Some whirs and clicks.Hi, it's Helen, calling to tell youthat Mrs Davenport phoned to confirm her appointment at nine o'clock tomorrow, okay? Bye bye.
Hi Martha, it's Roger. Can you callme at the hospital. I'd like your opinion on a case. Oh, bye the way, happy birthday. Bye.
Hi, Marty it's Helen again. I cancelled your Wednesday afternoon appointmentso you can visit with your mother. Bye bye.
Martha picks up a news paper with a photo of Sister Agnes on the front.???
EXT - CONVENT - DAY
Martha pulls up in her BMW outside the convent walls and gets out, cigarette in hand. A sign tangled over with creeper reads "Les Petites Soeurs de Marie Madeleine". Martha jangles a bell. After a wait she presses a buzzer. A peephole in the door slams open and Sister Marguerite looks out.
The peephole slams shut, but the door does open. Sister Marguerite glares at her.Bonjour, I'm Doctor Martha Livingston, I...
Martha realizes it is the cigarette that is causing the trouble and hastily grinds it underfoot.Hello... I'm Doctor Martha Living...ston... I...
Sister Marguerite's eyes flick down at cigarette butt. Martha awkwardly tries to kick it away.Excuse me... I'm...
Sister Marguerite gives a frosty imitation of a smile and motions for her to come in....the court-appointed psychiatrist.
Martha and the Sister walk up the drive to the convent.Thank you. I um... I believe your Mother Superior's expecting me.
Doctor Livingston I presume? I'm Mother Miriam Ruth. You needn't call me Mother if you don't wish.
Most people find it uncomfortable.
I'm afraid the word brings up the most unpleasant connatations in this day and age...
You can call me Sister.
... Thank you.
Martha sits; Mother Miriam gets her a box of matches.You must have tons of questions. You may smoke if you want to. Just don't tell any of the Sisters.
They wouldn't understand, especially Sister Marguerite. She'd scare the pants off Queen Elizabeth.
Besides, I miss them.
You were a smoker?
Two packs a day.
I can beat that.
Martha inclines her head impressed. Mother Miriam sits down next to her.Unfiltered.
Well, you have questions.
Who knew about Agnes' pregnancy?
How did she hide it from the other nuns?
She undressed alone... she bathed alone.
Is that normal?
How did she hide it during the day?
She could have hidden a machine gun in here if she had wanted to.
Didn't she have any physical examinations in this time?
We're examined once a year. Her pregnancy fell in between the doctor's visits.
Who was the father?
I haven't a clue.
What man had access to her?
None as far as I know.
Was there a priest?
Yes, but I...
What's his name?
Father Martineau, but I don't see him as a candidate.
Could there have been anyone else?
Obviously there was.
And you didn't try to find out who?
Believe me, I've done everything possible short of asking Agnes.
Mother Miriam removes a tray from under a pot plant and brings it back to use as an ashtray.Why haven't you asked her?
She can't even remember the birth. Do you think she'd admit to the conception?
Look, someone gave her the baby.
Yes, but that was some ten months ago. I fail to see that the identity of that somebody has anything to do with this trial.
Why do you think that?
Don't ask me those questions dear, I'm not the patient.
Well I'm the doctor. I'm the one who's going to decide what is, or is not important here.
Look doctor, I don't know how to tell you this politely, but I don't approve of you. Not you personally...
The science of psychiatry.
Exactly. I want you do deal with Agnes as speedily and as easily as possible. She won't hold up under any sort of cross examination.
I am not with the Inquisition.
Then Mother Miriam walks out.And I am not from the Middle Ages. I know what you are! I don't want that mind cut open.
Hello. I'm Doctor Livingston. I've been asked to talk to you. May I?
Martha moves further in the room. An ELDERLY NUN hovers outside the door.Yes.
You have a lovely voice.
No, I don't.
I just heard you.
That wasn't me.
Agnes laughs and Martha closes the door, shutting out the old nun.Was it Sister Marguerite?
You're very pretty Agnes.
No, I'm not.
Hasn't anyone ever told you that before?
Let's talk about something else.
What would you like to talk about.
I don't know.
Anything... may I sit down?
They both sit.Yes.
First thing that comes to your mind?
God! But there's nothing to say about God.
Second thing that comes to your mind.
Have you ever loved anyone?
Well, who in particular?
I love you.
Agnes, have you ever loved another man... other than, Jesus Christ?
Oh, there are so many.
Well do you love... do you love Father Martineau?
Do you think he loves you?
Oh, I know he does.
He's told you?
No. But... when I look into his eyes, I can tell.
You've been alone together?
At least once a week.
And you like that?
Where do you meet?
A slightly awkward pause.In the confessional.
Agnes suddenly looks exasperated.Agnes, do ever see Father Martineau outside the...
You want to talk about the baby don't you?
Would you like to talk about it?
I never saw any baby... I think they made it up.
Why should they?
I don't know.
Do you remember the night they said it came?
No. I was sick.
How were you sick?
Something I ate.
Did it hurt?
And what did you do?
I went to my room.
And what happened?
I got sicker.
And then what?
I fell asleep.
In the middle of all the pain?
Where did the baby come from?
The baby they made up.
>From their heads...
Is that where they say it came from... ?
No, they say it came from the waste paper basket!
Where'd it come from before that?
After God... before the waste-paper basket.
I... I don't understand.
Agnes, how are babies born?
Don't you know?
Yes I do, but I want you to...
I don't understand what you're talking about... you want to talk about the baby... everybody wants to talk about the baby but... I never saw the baby so I can't talk about the baby because... I don't believe in the baby.
Then let's talk about something else...
No... no, I'm tired of talking, I've been talking for weeks, nobody believes me when I tell them anything... nobody listens to me.
No... no, I don't want to answer any more questions.
Would you like to ask them?
What do you mean?
Just that... you ask and I'll answer.
What's your real name?
Martha Louise Livingston.
Are you married?
Would you like to be?
Not at the moment, no.
Do you have any children?
Would you like some?
I can't have them any more.
I've stopped menstruating
Why do you smoke?
Does it bother you?
Smoking is an obsession with me. Maybe one day I'll become obsessed with something else, then I'll stop smoking... Do you have any more questions?
They both halt.What?
Where do you think babies come from?
>From their mothers and fathers of course. Before that, I... I don't know.
Agnes sits down on a bench and Martha follows her.Well I think they come from... angel lights on their mothers chest and whispers into her ear. That makes good babies start to grow. And bad babies come from when a fallen angel squeezes in down there, and they start to grow, grow, till they come out down there. I don't know where good babies come out. And you can't tell the difference... except bad babies cry a lot... and they make their fathers go away... and their mothers get very ill... die sometimes.
Mummy wasn't very happy when she died... and, I think she went to hell because every time I see her she looks like she just stepped out of a hot shower, and I... I'm never sure if it's her, or the Lady who tells me things! They fight over me all the time.
Martha stands up, disturbed. Agnes is slightly delirious with happiness.The Lady... I saw when I was ten. I was lying on the grass, looking at the sun, and the sun became a cloud, and the cloud became, a Lady. And she told me she would talk to me. And then... her feet began to bleed and I saw there... there were holes in her hands and in her side. And I tried to catch the blood as it fell from the sky, but I couldn't see any more because my eyes hurt because there were big black spots in front of them. And she tells me things like, like... right now she's crying Marie! Marie!... but I don't know what that means.
And her cry echoes all around and the doves fly out of the bell tower.... and... she uses me to sing, it's as if she's throwing a big hook through the air and it catches me under my ribs and tries to pull me up, and I... I can't move because Mommy's holding my feet and all I can do is sing in her voice... it's the Lady's voice, God loves you!
God loves you.
Do you know a Marie?
No... do you?
Why should I?
I don't know.
Well... what do you think? Is she totally bananas or merely slightly off centre... or maybe she's perfectly sane and just a very good liar.
What's your opinion?
I believe Agnes is different.
>From other nuns...
Yes I... I've noticed.
>From other people!
I believe she is not crazy, nor is she lying.
How could she have a baby and know nothing of sex or birth?
Because she's an innocent. She's a slate that's hasn't been touched except by God.
In her case it isn't. She's had very little schooling. Her mother kept her home almost all the time and when her mother died Agnes came here, to us. She's never been out there Doctor. She's never seen a movie or a television show. She's never even read a book.
If she's so innocent, how come she murdered a child?
She didn't! This is manslaughter, not murder. She didn't consciously kill that baby. She'd lost a lot of blood. She was unconscious by the time we got to her.
So, someone else could have done it.
No... not in the eyes of the police.
And in your eyes?
I've already told you what I thought.
That she was unconscious, yes! So someone easily could have come in the room and killed the...
You don't really believe something like that happened do you?
It's possible isn't it?
Mother Miriam removes the tray from under a pot plant and bangs it down in front of Martha to act as an ashtray.One of the other nuns found out about the baby and... and wanted to avoid a scandal.
That possibility never occurred to you?
No-one knew about Agnes' pregnancy. No-one. Not even Agnes.
You have been listening to Mostly Music from Montreal. This is CBC Radio.
Is Father Martineau in please?
The housekeeper indicates she should enter and walks back inside.???
They move into the next room. The housekeeper goes further calling...Wipe your feet.
Martha stands uncertainly at the doorway. The sound of thumping is heard, and then the figure of a very old priest, FATHER MARTINEAU appears walking with a stick.???
They arise at five in the morning... and they're in bed by nine at night. Even if a man could get to them, he would probably find them praying. That's why I see that the real question is not only how he got in, but when.
And you're the only man to see them?
I promise you Doctor, even if I had the inclination, how could I possibly catch her? She would have to be a very slow and patient nun.
Ah no... they're a very special and rare people those Sisters. Only a few of them left in this modern world, consecrated to the praise of God.
... brought you something.
Shut up, I'm trying to watch this.
It's your favourite...
Who are you?
It's Martha, Mama.
There you go.
Marie brings me icecream too you know. Chocolate... my favourite.
I thought cherry-vanilla was your favourite.
Not any more... now I like chocolate.
Did you have a good week Mama. Are they treating you all right?
You know Martha never comes to see me. You watch it, she's going straight to hell... after all the things she said to me. Then she marries that son of a bitch of a Frenchman... has an abortion. I knew that one wouldn't work out. Not like you Marie. You got married to God.
Marie's dead Mama.
I remember when you was a little girl Marie. You come back from the movies and you'd say - Mama that ending was so sad... and I'd tell you they had all the happy endings locked away in a vault in Hollywood.
And you believed me.
Mama, that wasn't Marie, that was me!
Who are you?
I... I'm Martha, Mama.
The convent was built for over fifty. Not many of us left... just us and the chickens.
How do you survive?
Oh, we own the land around here. But we rent it out. We keep a few acres for ourselves,
some wheat, corn, some vegetables.
Well that's a lot of land. You must have help. Do you have field hands that help you?
No. We work the land alone. No-one but Sister Marguerite and I are permitted contact with the public.
Sister Anne points up to a window on the corner of the convent.Sister Anne, which was Agnes' room?
Oh that one there, in the corner.
The one up on the third floor?
This convent is locked solid. The only one that has a key is Sister Marguerite and she wouldn't let Christ in after dark.
Well, it's been known to happen in the day too. Maybe Agnes went to him.
Oh come on, you've talked to her. She doesn't even know how babies are born, let alone made.
When did you first learn about her... innocence, the way she thinks?
Shortly after she came to us.
And you weren't shocked?
I was appalled, just as you are now.
And what happened?
She stopped eating completely...
This was before her pregnancy?
Mother Miriam stops in front of Agnes.About two years before.
Agnes, it has come to my attention that you have stopped eating. Why is this?
I've been commanded by God.
He talked to you Himself?
Through someone else?
I can't say.
She'd punish me.
One of the other Sisters?
Mother Miriam glances up at an older NUN who has been in the chapel watching all along. She takes the hint and hobbles out.Who?
Why would she tell you to do this? Agnes look at me.
Because I'm getting fat.
Oh, for Heaven's sake.
I am, there's too much flesh on me.
I'm a blimp.
Why does it matter whether you're fat or not...
... You needn't worry about being attractive here.
I do, I have to be attractive to God.
He loves you the way you are.
No he doesn't. He hates fat people.
Who told you this?
It's a sin to be fat.
Look at the statues, they're thin.
That's because they're suffering... suffering is beautiful, I want to be beautiful.
Who tells you these things?
Christ said it in the Bible, he said - suffer the little children, I want to suffer like a little child.
That's not what he meant.
I... I am a little child but my body keeps getting bigger and soon I... I won't be able to fit in, I... I won't be able to squeeze into Heaven.
Agnes gets to her knees and pushes up her breasts.Agnes dear, Heaven is not a place where...
No... I mean... I mean look at these. I've got to lose weight, I'm a blimp.
Oh my dear child.
God blew up the Hindenburg. He'll blow me up, that's what she said...
Mommy I'll get bigger and bigger every day and then I'll pop but... but if I stay little it won't happen.
Your mother tells you this?... Agnes your mother is dead.
But she watches... she listens.
Nonsense, I'm your mother now and I want you to eat.
I'm not hungry.
You've got to eat something Agnes.
No, I don't... the host is enough.
My dear, I don't think a communion wafer has the recommended daily allowance of anything.
Then Mother Miriam looks down and is shocked to see Agnes' white habit is spotted with blood, and more blood is dripping onto the floor. She pulls out Agnes' hand from her habit and gasps with shock; there is a bleeding hole in the middle of her palm.Yes, of God.
I'm being punished.
I don't know.
She quickly leads Agnes out of the chapel.Dear Jesus...
It started this morning and I can't get it to stop.
Why didn't you take her to a doctor?
It was healed by the following morning and she started eating again...
She had a... a hole in the palm of her hand! She could have bled to death.
But she didn't... did she. If anyone had seen what I'd seen she'd be public property... newspapermen, psychiatrists, ridicule. She doesn't deserve that.
She has it now.
I know what you're thinking, she's a hysteric pure and simple.
Not simple, no.
I saw it. Clean through the palm of her hand. Do you think hysteria could do that?
It's being doing it for centuries. She's not unique, she's just another victim.
God's victim. That's her innocence. She belongs to God.
Martha walks out. Mother Miriam yanks the padlock out of the door.And I intend to take her away from Him. That's what you're afraid of isn't it?
You bet I am.
EXT - POLICE PRECINCT - DAY
Martha and Larry are at the top of steps. He hands her an envelope.
Here you are. Don't let anyone know where you got them.
EXT - CONVENT - DAY
Agnes is happily swinging on a long swing attached to a tree.
INT - CRYPT - DAY
The Sisters go about their tasks. Then all together they move to a corner of the room which is laid out with burning candles and make their devotions.
INT - CONFESSIONAL - DAY
Agnes is confessing to a rather disinterested Father Martineau.
Last Tuesday, I didn't eat all of my lima beans... hid them under my spoon.
I thought... thoughts... about...
Speak up, I can hardly hear you.
I thought ugly thoughts about Sister Marguerite.
INT - MARTHA'S APARTMENT - NIGHT
Martha is leafing through a sheaf of police photographs of the sheets and the waste-paper basket. She puts the photos aside and puffs thoughtfully on a cigarette.
EXT - CONVENT FARM - DAY
Agnes is milking the cow. She pours the milk into a large churn. (The singing finishes at this point)
INT - JUDGE'S OFFICE - DAY
The same four are in a meeting. This time they are all sitting except for Lyon who is standing by the window.
Would you tell me why the hell this is taking so long.
Look, there are a lot of unanswered questions here.
Martha, your job is to diagnose, not to heal and play detective. Who do you think you are?
I know my job. Don't tell me my job Lyon. My duty as a doctor is to...
Martha, you have to make a decision on her sanity as quickly as possible and not interfere with due process of law.
No... no, excuse me Eve. As quickly as I see fit.
The longer you take to make a decision, the more difficult it will be for us.
The bishop is breathing down our necks.
And the sooner she goes to prison, the better off she'll be?
I don't believe this. I don't bloody believe this.
Well, the bishop will be very upset about this.
I'm fighting for this woman's life, not some bloody bishop.
You liked Sister Paul?
She was kind to me. She told me I was beautiful.
What else did she tell you?
Agnes makes the sign of the cross, they both stand and start to move off.She said all of God's angels would want to sleep beside me if they could. I liked that.
She lived here for almost seventy years. Every day she'd ring the bell, wake us up, call us to God. She took me to my secret place.
So Agnes takes her.Where's that?... I promise I won't tell, would you take me?
Sister Paul was in her eighties? Did she climb up here often?
No, only when she felt like it. She brought me up here last winter and the next day she died.
No wonder... wait... Agnes... Agnes how do you feel about babies?
Oh, they frighten me, I'm afraid I'll drop them. They have a soft spot on their heads and if you drop them so they land on their heads they become stupid. I was dropped on my head, that's why I don't understand things.
Numbers... you can spend your whole life counting and never reach the end.
I don't understand them either. Do you suppose I was dropped on my head?
I hope not. It's a terrible thing to be dropped on your head.
Oh, I've got to give up smoking. Agnes... wait a minute... Agnes slow down.
Martha arrives exhausted.She said you could see the whole world from up here. But it looks much better far away than it looks close up.
Agnes lies down under the bell.Beautiful...
She starts to sing in a beautiful voice and the sound rings in the bell.And sometimes I get under here... it makes a wonderful sound.
What happens if the bell rings and you're under there?
Agnes sings a little more.Oh, it's even more wonderful then.
It's like hiding from my mother when I was a little girl.
Where did you go?
Oh, no place as wonderful as this. Agnes... have you ever thought of leaving the convent for something else?
No. There is nothing else. Just being here at night helps me sleep.
You have trouble sleeping?
I get headaches. Mommy did too... oh, but she wasn't stupid. She knew things that nobody else knew.
She knew what was going to happen to me. That's why she hid me away.
How did she know that?
Somebody told her.
I don't know.
I promise I won't laugh. Who told her?
An angel, when she was having one of her headaches.
Did your mother see angels often?
Do you believe she really saw them?
No, but I can never tell her that.
Martha moves round close to Agnes.She'd get angry.
Agnes, did you love your mother?
Did you ever want to be a mother yourself?
I could never be a mother.
Well I don't think I'm old enough and besides I don't want to have a baby.
Because I don't want one.
If you did want one, how'd you go about getting one?
>From someone who didn't want to have a baby.
No, not like me!
How would that person get one if they didn't want one?
Agnes, how did your mother get you?
A mistake... it was a mistake...
Is that what she said?
If you're trying to get me to say that she was a bad woman and hated me and didn't want me but that's not true, she was a good woman, a saint... (distorted).
Agnes, I don't believe you know nothing about sex...
I can't help it if I'm stupid.
... that you don't remember getting pregnant...
Not my fault.
... and that you don't believe you carried a child.
I was a mistake.
What the child?
Everything... I don't have children.
Martha puts her arm out to Agnes who slaps it away.Agnes...
Agnes disappears down through the trapdoor. Martha throws her cigarette away.Don't touch me like that! You don't touch me like that, I know what you want from me, you want to take God away. You should be ashamed, they should lock you up people like you.
You hate us don't you?
Nuns... you hate nuns.
I hate ignorance and stupidity.
The Catholic Church...
I haven't said anything against the Catholic Church.
Catholicism is not on trial here. I want you to deal with Agnes without any religious prejudice or you turn this case over to someone else...
Mother Miriam starts to walk away, Martha angrily follows her.How dare you tell me to run my affairs!
It's my affair too.
How dare you think I'm in a position to be pressured...
I'm only interested...
Martha and Mother Miriam are climbing the stairs. They pause briefly.... or bullied or what ever you're doing. Who the hell do you think you are? You go around here expecting applause for the way you treated this child.
She is not a child.
And she has a right to know that there's a world out there filled with people who don't believe in God...
They reach Mother Miriam's study.... and aren't any worse off than you Mother. People who've gone through their entire lives without bending their knees once, to anybody. And people who fall in love and have babies and occasionally are very happy. She has a right to know that. But you and your... your order and your Church have kept her ignorant...
???(distorted)... virginity, right Mother? Poverty, chastity and ignorance is what you live by.
I am not a virgin, Doctor. I was married for twenty three years, two daughters. I even have grandchildren... surprised? It might please you to know that I was a failure as a wife and mother. My children won't even see me any more, that's their revenge. I think they tell their friends that I've passed on. And don't tell me I'm making up for past mistakes Doctor Freud.
Then help her.
No, you're shielding her. Let her face the world.
What good would it do. No matter what you decide it's either the... the prison or the nut house and the differences between them are pretty thin.
There's another choice.
A long pause. The tension between them dissolves.Innocence. Legal innocence. I know the judge would be happy for any reason to throw this case out of court.
All right, what do you need.
Martha holds her hand.Answers.
When would Agnes have conceived the child?
Oh, some time in January.
Do you remember anything unusual happening at the time?
Visitors to the convent.
Do you have a... a diary or a day book?
Mother Miriam moves to her desk and opens the day book.Take at look at it.
There's nothing here.
Was the child full term?
Oh, dear God...
What is it?
Oh, Dear God, I should have guessed...
In flashback, Mother Miriam addresses Agnes.... I should have suspected something.
Sister Marguerite says you have been sleeping on a bare mattress Sister. Is that true?
Sister Marguerite gives a snort of derision. Mother Miriam glances sharply at her, then turns back to Agnes.In the medieval days the nuns and monks would sleep in their own coffins.
We're not in the Middle Ages, Sister.
It made them holy.
It made them uncomfortable. And if they didn't sleep well, I'm certain the next day they were cranky as mules. Sister where are your sheets?
Do you really believe that sleeping on a bare mattress is the equivalent of sleeping in a coffin?
Then tell me. Where are your sheets?
I burnt them.
They were stained.
How many times have I burned into your thick skull and the thick skull of your fellow novice, that menstruation is a perfectly natural process and nothing to be ashamed of.
It is a perfectly natural process and nothing to be ashamed of.
The two girls start to repeat it but Agnes starts to cry and Genevieve falters into silence. Mother Miriam goes on more kindly.Mean it!
A few years ago one of the Sisters came to me in tears, asking for comfort... comfort because she was too old to have any children. Not that she wanted to, but once a month she had been reminded of that possibility.
It's not that... it's not that...
What do you mean?
It's not my time of month.
Should you see a doctor?
I don't know. I don't know what happened Mother, I woke up... there was blood on the sheets, but I don't know what happened.
I don't know what I did wrong, I don't know and I should be punished.
I don't know... I don't know...
That was the beginning, the night of the conception. That's why she burnt the sheets.
When was that?
The twenty third of January. On that night one of our elder nuns passed away.
Father Martineau annoints the old woman. Then Agnes quietly slips in unobserved. Sister Paul rallies for a moment, tries to say a single silent word to her. The smile slips from Agnes' face. Then Sister Paul lies back and dies.Yes. I don't remember where Agnes was. I was needed in the sick room.
Well you're probably right about that. It certainly can't help Sister Agnes to have this investigation continued for any length of time.
Why do you call it an investigation? I never have.
Your mother was a resident of Saint Catherines home before you moved her.
What does this have to do with..?
And you had a sister who died in the convent.
Who told you this?
Do you still go to church?
What business is it of yours..?
Oh, we just wonder if you can be very objective about this case.
Look, Father, ah... just because I don't subscribe to the... to the beliefs you subscribe to...
But what you believe makes no difference to us whatsoever Doctor. But it does make all the difference to Agnes.
I don't understand. Are you expecting me to..?
Martha stares at him as he walks away.Well somone's got to suffer for this Doctor. You've got to be merciful and quick. Excuse me.
Agnes, I'm here because I want to help you.
I'm not sick.
But you're troubled... aren't you?
That's because you keep reminding me. If you go away then I'll forget.
And you're unhappy.
Everyone's unhappy, you're unhappy aren't you?
Answer me! You never answer me.
Agnes carries the milk pail round to the churn.Only you think you're lucky because you didn't have a mother who said things to you and did things to you that maybe weren't always nice but that was because of me, because I was bad, not her.
What did you do?
I'm always bad.
What did you do?
Agnes falls to her knees. Martha moves round and kneels in front of her.I breathed!
Agnes. What did your mother do to you?
If you can't answer me, just shake your head yes or no. Did... did she hit you?
Did she make you do something you didn't want to?
Did it make you feel uncomfortable to do it?
Did it embarrass you?
Did it... did it hurt you?
What did she make you you do?
You can tell me.
She's dead isn't she?
She can't hurt you any more.
She watches... she listens.
Agnes, I don't believe that. Tell me. I'll protect you from her.
... makes me...
... take off my clothes and then... she makes fun of me.
She tells you you're ugly?
And that you're stupid?
That you're a mistake?
She says my whole body's a mistake.
Because she says if I don't watch out I'll have a baby.
How does she know that?
She touches me down there with a cigarette.
Please Mommy, don't touch me like that any more. I'll be good, I won't be a baby any more.
Agnes, oh Agnes, Agnes I want you to do something. I want you to pretend that I'm your mother. Oh yes, only this time I want you to tell me what you're feeling, alright?
Please! I want to help you. Let me help you.
Agnes, you're ugly!... what do you say? Of course you do. Agnes, you're ugly!... what do you say?
No, I'm not.
Are you pretty?
Agnes, you're stupid.
No, I'm not.
Are you intelligent?
Yes, I am.
You're a mistake.
Agnes is half shouting, half crying. Martha holds on to her.I'm not a mistake, I'm here aren't I? How can I be a mistake if I'm really here? God doesn't make mistakes, you're a mistake...
Oh Agnes, oh Agnes, it's alright, it's alright, it's alright, it's alright, I love you.
Do you really love me or are you just saying that?
I really love you.
As much as Mother Miriam does?
As much as God loves you.
I've been watching. We were fine 'till she came. She brought the devil here.
There was blood on her hand that night.
Who? Mother Superior?
Look into the convent records.
But the nun has gone, walking quickly away down the corridor.Sister...
The Sister smiles, goes to another cabinet, extracts a file and hands it to her.Oh, good afternoon Sister, I... I'm looking for some biographical data on Sister Agnes, and Mother said I might find it here.
The Sister nods and without a word leaves the room. Martha waits until she has gone, then opens the cabinet and pulls out another file. Glancing at the door, she compares the two files. They both have the same surname: Burchetti. Then the door opens and Mother Miriam is standing there.Thank you.
You lied to me
I didn't tell you because I didn't think it was important.
No, it just makes you doubly responsible doesn't it?
I never saw Agnes until she set foot in this convent. My sister ran away from home. We lost touch with her. And when my husband died and I came here, she wrote to me and asked me if I would take care of Agnes in case anything happened.
Mother Miriam turns out of the room. Martha goes after her.And Agnes' father?
It could have been any one of a dozen men from what my sister told me.
She was afraid that Agnes would follow in her footsteps. She did everything she could to prevent it.
Like keeping her home from school?
Listening to angels?
She drank too much. That's what killed her.
Do you know what she did to her?
I don't think I care to know.
She molested her!
Oh, dear God.
There is more here than meets the eye isn't there? Lots of dirty little secrets.
Oh God, if only I'd known.
Why didn't you? You knew she was keeping her home from school. You knew she was an alcoholic.
I knew that after the fact.
Why didn't you do anything to stop her?
She leaves.Because I didn't know...
INT - POLICE STATION, LARRY'S OFFICE - DAY
Larry is interviewing a young PROSTITUTE in French. Martha appears at the door.
Marty, what are you doing here?
Larry, there's got to be something missing.
I gave you the pictures Marty. What else do you want?
Something they... that they overlooked.
What? You think that the girl is innocent?
I don't know.
Larry pulls out a pack of cigarettes, gives one to Martha and to the prostitute.You got to be crazy.
What's the matter with you, you've seen the reports. It's a cut and dried case.
Maybe there's something that's not in the report that should be.
You're too involved Marty.
Larry lights his own cigarette and comes over to Martha.Jesus look at you. Why don't you turn this case over to someone else?
I'll ask around, see what I come up with. In the meantime you go home and get some sleep.
If I find anything I'll call you.
Some whirs and beeps. Martha goes into the bathroom.Hi Marty, it's Helen. Mrs Davenport called and was very upset that you'd missed her appointment. She wants you to call her at home, oh and a couple of reporters have been trying to get a hold of you about Sister Agnes. They seem persistent and they may try to reach you at home. I didn't give them number.
More beeps and whirs. Martha starts to undress.Hallo, Doctor Livingston. My name is (?). I'm doing a Sunday article on Sister Agnes for the Gazette. I would appreciate it if you would give me a phone call on 942-2424.
Hi Marty, it's me. Listen I just talked with Detective Crawley who was at the convent. She said that there was one thing that bothered her that didn't make it into the report. The waste paper basket. The one in Agnes' room.
Martha rushes over to the answerphone and rewinds it.None of the other nuns had one. Bye.
Martha looks thoughtful and flicks off the desk lamp.... her that didn't make it into the report. The waste paper basket. The one in Agnes' room. None of the other nuns had one. Bye.
INT - BARN - DAY
Mother Miriam is kneeling in the doorway of the barn, praying when Martha enters. Mother Miriam pauses.
Mother Miriam makes the sign of the cross and stands up.I've gotten the court's permission to hypnotise her.
And my permission?
Mother Miriam grabs a bucket and moves across the barn. Martha follows her.I'd like yours too.
We'll see about that.
Don't deny it!
I haven't decided yet.
The woman's health is at stake.
Her spiritual health.
I don't give a damn about her spiritual health.
Mother Miriam starts shovelling grain into a bucket.I know you don't.
Sentence her and be done with it, that's what you're saying and I...
I am saying (distorted) a beautifully simple woman...
An unhappy woman...
She's happy with us and she could go on being happy if she was left alone.
Then why did you call the police in the first place Mother, huh? Why didn't you just throw the baby into the incinerator and be done with it.
Because I am a moral person.
Catholic Church doesn't have a corner on morality...
Who said anything about the Catholic Church...
You just said...
What the hell has the Catholic Church got to do with you?
This time it is Martha who walks away and Mother Miriam who follows her.What have we done to hurt you? And don't deny it, I can smell an ex-Catholic a mile away. What did we do? Burn a few heretics, sell some indulgences? That was in the days when the Church was a ruling body. We let governments do those things today. So what did we do to you eh? You wanted to neck in the back seat of a car when you were fifteen and you couldn't because it was a sin?
So instead of questioning that one rule...
It wasn't sex. It was a lot of things, but it wasn't sex. You know when I was in the first grade my best friend was run over on the way to school, you know what the nun said? She died because she hadn't said her morning prayers.
Stupid woman... and that's all?
That's all? That's enough! She was a beautiful little girl.
And what has that to do with it?
I wasn't. I wasn't. She was the pretty one. She died, why not me? I never said my morning prayers. And I was ugly, I was scrawny, I had buck teeth and freckles all over my face, do you know what the nun called me, Sister Mary Clitus, called me Polkadot Livingston.
So you left the Church because you had freckles?
They both cannot help laughing at this absurdity.No, because I... yeah, yeah I left the Church cause I had freckles.
When I was a child I used to hear my guardian angel. She sang to me 'till I was six years old. That's when I stopped listening. But I remember the voice. A few years ago I looked at myself and saw nothing but a nun who was certain of nothing. Not even of Heaven. Not even of God. And then one evening I saw Agnes standing by her window, singing. And all my doubts about myself and God were gone, in that one moment. I recognized the voice. Please don't take it away from me again Doctor Livingston. Those years after six were very bleak.
My sister died in a convent. And it's her voice I hear.
Does my smoking bother you?
No, it reminds me.
Would you like one? Huh?
Martha hands her a cigarette and lights it for her. Mother Miriam coughs a lot. Martha pats her on the back.I'd love one.
I'm out of prac...
Do you suppose the saints would have smoked if tobacco had been popular back then?
Undoubtedly. Not the ascetics of course but, well Saint Thomas More...
Long, thin and filtered.
Saint Ignatius would smoke cigars and stub them out on the soles of his bare feet.
And of course (distorted)
Even Christ would partake socially.
Oh, you've come a long way baby.
More laughter, then the moment because more serious.And Saint John would chew tobacco.
What do you suppose today's saints are smoking?
There are no saints today. Good people yes, but extraordinarily good people... those I'm afraid we are sorely lacking.
Do you think they ever existed?
Yes I do.
Do you want to become one?
Become? One is born a saint.
Well you can try, can't you, to be good?
Yes, but goodness has very little to do with it. Not all the saints were good, in fact some of them were a little crazy. But... they were still attached to God. Agnes has that birth.
No more... we're born, we live, we die. No room for miracles.
They start walking back to the convent.Oh my dear, how I miss the miracles.
Do you think Agnes is still attached to God?
Listen to her singing.
I'd like to begin.
The hypnotism. Do you still disapprove?
Would it stop you if I did?
They both halt.No.
May I be present?
Then let's begin.
You're listening to a chorus of angels. The music surrounds you like a... warm and, comfortable pool of water. And while you're sleeping, you're going to be able to recall, all the things that we want you to remember. And when I count to three and clap my hands, you'll no longer be hypnotised. Can you hear me.
Who am I?
And why am I here?
To help me.
Good. Would you like to tell me why you're here?
Because I'm in trouble.
What kind of trouble?
Martha starts to walk around behind Agnes.What kind of trouble Agnes?
Of telling you.
But it's easy. It's just a breath with sound. Say it. What kind of trouble?
Both Martha and Mother Miriam react with some degree of relief.I had a baby.
How did you have a baby?
It came out of me.
Did you know what was going to come out?
Did you want it to come out?
Because I was afraid.
Why were you afraid?
Because I wasn't worthy.
To be a mother?
May I open my eyes now?
No not yet Agnes, very soon but not yet. How did the baby get into you?
What made it grow? Do you know?
Would you like to tell me?
Did anyone else know about the baby?
I can't tell you that.
Will she be angry?
She made me promise not to.
Who? Who made you promise?
It's alright Agnes. It's alright.
Let's go to your room. It's the night about six weeks ago when you were very sick.
Oh don't be, I'm here. It's alright. I want you to tell me what you did before you went to bed.
Hm hmm. What did you have for dinner?
... brussel sprouts.
You don't like brussel sprouts?
Martha and Mother Miriam can't help smiling.I hate them.
And then what happened?
We went to chapel for vespers.
Suddenly Agnes leaps up from her chair.I left early because I wasn't feeling very well.
What is it?
Someone's following me.
Sister Marguerite I think.
Was it Sister Marguerite who knew about the baby?
Alright Agnes, I want you to see your room as you saw it on that night. Open your eyes.
What do you see?
Above the bed? Any... anything else? What do you you see, something different? What is it?
A wastepaper basket.
Do you know who put it there?
What do you think it's there for?
For me to get sick in.
Are you ill?
What do you feel?
I feel as if I've eaten glass.
What do you do?
And she falls to her knees, retching horribly.I have to throw up...
I can't... glass... one of the sisters has fed me glass.
I don't know which one (distorted)
She assumes the birth position and looks between her legs.Of me. Oh... God! My God...
Water... it's all water...
Why isn't anyone coming?
They can't hear me that's why.
Oh God... I don't wanna...
Then Agnes tries to crawl away as though terrified of something.Stop her!
What is it?
Please get away from me...
Go away, I don't want you here.
Is someone in the room with you?
No... don't hit me please...
Stop this, she'll hurt herself
I'm not going to allow this.
NO... no... I said leave her alone.
You're trying to take my baby... trying to take my baby... no...
It wasn't my fault Mommy... it was a mistake Mommy.
Alright Agnes... it's alright. One, two, three...
It's alright... it's me, Doctor Livingston, it's alright, alright. Thank you Agnes, thank you. How do you feel?
Do you remember what just happened?
That's good. Do you feel well enough to stand?
Martha helps her to her feet. Agnes clings to her.Yes.
There you go. It's alright, it's alright, it's all over. It's alright Agnes, that's right, that's right.
Ah excuse me. Hallo. I'm looking for some ah... ground plans for the ah... Saint Marie Madeleine Convent in (distorted).
Oh... very interesting I guess...
He sets the folder down on a table and starts going through it. They both look at the plans.Excuse me...
Ah voila! This has everything. Even the secret entrance. They all had that. Usually to get from building to building in the snow...
... like that one.
That's how he got in... or she got out.
Oh excuse me, what did you say?
Nothing. May I take some notes?
Martha starts drawing a rough plan.Oh yes, (distorted)
Is the Doctor in her office?
Ah, who shall I say is calling?
She heads onto Martha's office. Helen jumps up after her.General MacArthur.
Mother Miriam pushes the door open to reveal Martha.Just a minute please, you can't go in there.
Mother Miriam walks in and throws some papers down onto Martha's desk.It's... it's alright Helen, just close the door.
I've just met with the bishop. We're taking you off the case.
They start to leave.If we want to hire a psychiatrist for Agnes. we'll find our own, thank you.
One that will ask the questions you want asked.
One that will approach this matter with some objectivity and respect.
For the Church?
You think she's a saint?
She's been touched by God, yes.
How? How? She hallucinates, stops eating and bleeds spontaneously. Is that supposed to convince me she shouldn't be touched. Give me a miracle.
Who is he?
Why must he be anybody?
My God, you're as crazy as...
Stop laughing, I don't say it's the truth, I'm saying...
How (distorted) ?
Don't be ridiculous.
Well give me a reasonable explanation
A miracle is an event without an explanation. If she's capable of putting a hole in her hand without benefit of a nail, why couldn't she split a cell in her womb?
This is insane.
There was no man in the convent on that night and no way for any man to get in or out.
You're saying God did it?
No, that's as much as saying Father Martineau did it. I'm saying God permitted it.
But how did it happen?
You'll never find the answer for everything God did.
I thought you didn't believe in miracles today Mother?
But I want the opportunity to believe. I want the choice to believe.
But what you are choosing to believe is a lie because you won't face the fact that she was raped... or seduced... or that she did the seducing.
She is an innocent.
But she is not an enigma Mother. Everything that Agnes has done is explainable from modern psychiatry. One, two, three, right down the line.
That's what you believe she is? The sum of her psychological parts?
That's what I have to believe...
Then why are you so obsessed with her? You're losing sleep over her?
Martha has no answer.You're thinking about her all the time. You're bent on saving her. Why?
I'm not accusing. I'm recognizing.
There's a tunnel out of the crypt into the barn. Did you know about that? There's an answer Mother. That's how she got out.
That's crazy. How could she find out about it?
Somebody told her.
Who? That tun... that tunnel hasn't been used in fifty years.
Oh, would you stop lying Mother!
Why would I lie?
Because it's murder we're talking about. Aren't you concerned about what she told us about the other person in her room.
I'm concerned about her health.
Who was that person Mother? Was it you?
She goes out and slams the door.If you believe this is murder, it is the Crown attorney you have to talk to, not me. And definitely not Agnes.
All I want is one more week.
You've done nothing to show any progress.
Yes, that's because I'm getting to her.
You're getting to all of us Martha, let's face it.
I'll have a decision by next week.
It's gone on long enough. You're out.
Oh Joe... Joe she didn't kill the baby.
You have proof?
I'll have it.
No, no, no...
I can get you new evidence next week.
They reach the door of Leveau's office. He thinks...Tomorrow... tomorrow, I'll get it by tomorrow. I will.
Yes, demain (?)
Mother Miriam nods tiredly and goes to meet Martha at he door. Martha hands her a court order. Mother Miriam reads it briefly and hands it back.Excuse me Mother, Doctor Livingston is here.
This is permission to take her apart.
Where is she?
Hasn't she had enough?
I have a few more questions to ask her.
They move back into the room.My God, but you're determined.
Who knew she was pregnant?
Why do you insist upon pressing...
Was it you?
Is it because she's a nun?
Did you know she was pregnant?
And you didn't send her to a doctor.
I didn't guess until it was too late.
For what? An abortion?
Oh, don't be ridiculous.
Too late for what?
I don't know... too late to stop it.
You went to the room to help with the birth.
She didn't want any help.
You wanted that child out of the way.
That's a lie.
You hid the wastepaper basket in her room.
I didn't hide it. I put it there for the blood and the dirty sheets.
And the baby.
You tied the cord around its neck.
I wanted her to have it when no-one else was around, they would have taken the baby to a hospital and left it with them, but it was such a difficult birth, there was so much blood and I panicked.
Before or after you killed the child?
I left it with her and I went for help.
I doubt that's what she'd say.
Then she's a liar.
Agnes, can you hear me?
There is a flash cut to Sister Paul being annointed. Agnes stirs slightly.I want you to remember if you can a night last January. The night Sister Paul died. Do you remember.
There is another flash cut, this time of Sister Paul saying that mysterious word that we could not previously understand.What's the matter?
She said 'Michael'.
There is a third flash cut of the shrine of Saint Michael in the crypt.What did she mean?
The statue. She had shown it to me the day before.
And the passage to the barn?
So I could go to him.
How did she know about him?
She'd seen him too.
>From the belltower the day she before she died.
So she sent you?
Agnes keeps walking and finally goes up the steps into...What happened?
Are you frightened?
... where are you?
Then she seems to be talking to someone although we can see nothing except the doves.Is it you?
I... I'm afraid... yes, yes I do... why me?... wait, I want to see you.
What do you see?
And she lifts up her hands.... dividing and dividing feathers and starts, falling, falling into the iris of God's eye. Oh... oh!... it's... it's so lovely... it's so... blue... yellow... blood wings, brown, blood...
Martha and Mother Miriam are equally shocked.His blood... my God...
Agnes runs terrified over to the walls, blood pouring over her white habit. Mother Miriam rushes after her.Oh Agnes...
It's bleeding... I'm bleeding... my God it won't stop, I can't get it to stop.
Let go of me, I wish you were dead.
Agnes breaks free and runs over to another wall smearing it with blood. Martha follows her.Agnes... Agnes...
Stay away from me...
Agnes it had nothing to do with the hand of God. He did a terrible thing to you, do you understand?
He frightened you and he hurt you. It's not your fault. It's his fault. Tell us who he is so we can find him. Stop him from doing this to other women.
Not your fault...
Agnes who did you see?
I hate him...
Of course you do. Who was it?
I hate him for what he did to me.
For what he made me go through.
I hate him.
Agnes flings her arms back against the wall.Agnes, who did this to you?
God! It was God.
And now I'll burn in hell because I hate him.
Agnes, you won't burn in hell. It's alright to hate him.
Agnes, what happened to the baby?
She can't remember.
What happened to the baby?
It was dead.
It was alive wasn't it?
I don't remember.
Oh, don't do this!
Somehow this declaration seems to calm them down somewhat. Mother Miriam is looking utterly resigned.YES!
Mother Miriam was with you wasn't she?
She took the baby in her arms?
You saw it all didn't you?
And then... what did she do?
Agnes what did she do?
She... left me alone with that little thing, and I looked at it, and I thought this is a mistake. But it's my mistake, not Mommy's. God's mistake. I thought I... I can save her.
I can give her back to God.
What did you do?
I put her to sleep.
Mother Miriam gives a shuddering sigh, makes the sign of the cross and prays. Martha claps her hands lightly together once.I tied the cord around her neck... wrapped her in the bloody sheets... and stuffed her in the trash can.
Both Martha and Mother Miriam show relief at this. Justice Leveau continues to sum up in French when suddenly Agnes stands up.In view of the situation as it now stands, and the testimony given here this morning, it seems quite clear that the defendant was in no manner responsible for her actions. It is therefore the judgement of this court that she be returned to the convent of Marie Madeleine where she will be cared for under proper medical supervision by a visiting physician.
Oui. Do you have something to say?
I stood in the window of my room every night for a week. And one night I heard the most beautiful voice imaginable. And when I looked I saw the moon shining down on him. For six nights he sang to me, songs I'd never heard. And on the seventh night he opened his wings and lay on top of me. All the while he sang -
Charlie Sweet... Charlie Sweet... Charlie's a...
Martha and Mother Miriam step forward uncertainly.Please, remove her from the court.
Would someone please remove the defendant from the courtroom.
EXT - CONVENT - DAY
It is full winter; many shots of the convent and surroundings dissolving into one another.
The nuns are seen walking together through the snow back to the convent over which Agnes' singing can be heard.I don't know the meaning behind the song she sang. Perhaps it was a song of seduction. And the father was a fieldhand. Perhaps the song was simply a lullaby that she remembered from many years ago. And the father was hope and... and love and desire. And a belief in miracles.
I want to believe that she was blessed. And I do miss her, and I hope that she's left something, some little part of herself with me. That would be miracle enough wouldn't it?
EXT - TOP OF BELLTOWER - DAY
Where Agnes is singing her song among the doves. She stops singing and the music fades in on the same key. Agnes gently takes one of the doves and lets it fly away across the snowy landscape.