[Marxism] Philomena; The Magdelene Sisters | Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist
lnp3 at panix.com
Tue Dec 24 09:54:53 MST 2013
Among the many major studio DVD screeners I received in November as a
NYFCO member, “Philomena” was a low priority item. I could not imagine
why I would have picked this as a best film of 2013 based on the
previews I had seen in the theaters. It starred Judi Dench as an elderly
Irish woman named Philomena Lee trying to find a son she had put up for
adoption 50 years earlier, aided by a British reporter covering her story.
Indeed, as the film started I identified completely with the reporter
who told Philomena’s daughter who he meets at a cocktail party that he
did not cover “human interest” stories. Also, he was going to be busy
writing a history of Russia—my kind of guy.
It is only after Martin Sixsmith (Steve Coogan) sits down with Philomena
and begins to flesh out her story do we discover that she was one of
thousands of young women victimized by the Catholic Church in Ireland
that turned them into virtual slaves in laundries run out of their
convents, in her case a place called Roscrea. This was the plot of Peter
Mullan’s 2003 “The Magdelene Sisters”, a film I never saw but had vivid
memories of the reviews depicting a chamber of horrors.
Roscrea was what they called a Magdalene Asylum, not a mental
institution but what Americans would call a reformatory for Catholic
girls. The crime was not robbery or auto theft but having an out of
wedlock child, prostitution, or promiscuity.
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