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Brides of Christ (1991)

Brides of Christ is a six part miniseries set in Australia in the 1960's and takes a glance into the lives of four nuns and two Catholic girl students in a time when the formalities of the Catholic church were beginning to drastically change.  The first chapter follows Diane (Sister Catherine) as she's gives up her life and fiancee for what she believes is her higher calling, becoming a nun.  It follows her through her struggles in accepting the life and beliefs of the convent but she manages to make friends with another nun in training Sister Paul and the two become the closest of friends.  

The second chapter focuses on a student named Frances (Naomi Watts) whose attempting to deal with her parents divorce, her mother's remarriage, and the backlash her mother receives from the other children's parents.  Chapter three focuses on Mother Ambrose, as she hires an outside teacher (whose a man) to teach the girls economic class.  Ambrose forms a close friendship with this teacher which soon has to be broken when his political views clash with those of the Catholic church and he's forced to resign.  The fourth chapter focuses on another student named Rosemary whose first introduction to the human reproduction system in sex ed leads her to turn into the Catholic school hussy, this episode also features a relatively brief appearance by Russell Crowe as Rosemary's love interest.

Chapter five focuses on Sister Paul as she decides to leave the family and go back into the outside world to marry her long time crush, who also happens to have been a priest.  But Paul finds life on the outside very difficult and unpleasant and soon returns to the safety of her family.  And chapter six wraps up the series with Sister Catherine, whose joining of the convent begun the series, it's her leaving which concludes it.  Catherine has always been the most opinionated of the nuns and the Vatican's recent ban on using contraceptive to prevent pregnancy is the straw that breaks the camel's back, as she see first hand what such a ruling has on families already overwhelmed with children.

Not being a Catholic I was surprised I actually found this mini-series rather interesting, as it delves into the much unseen goings on of life inside a convent and the trials and troubles the nuns face on a daily basis.  The battle between the young and the old, not simply the students in the school against the nuns but also the younger nuns vs the older nuns.  The characters are very believable, the performances are very authentic, and the stories have enough going for them that it didn't make this mini-series boring, as I expected it to be.  While each chapter focuses on a different character, I liked how the stories and the other characters still continued to be developed as the series progressed.  Personally, I found the first three chapters to be the most enjoyable, the last three seemed to drag a little more.

Russell Crowe's part is pretty short and he doesn't have many lines.  I think this was simply meant to be a cameo role, possibly to gain some interest in the series since at this time Crowe had become a pretty well known actor in Australia having done quite a few TV show guest spots and a few films.  I did really enjoy the performance by a very young Naomi Watts who showed signs of great talent even at her young age.  Her character is introduced in chapter two and continues to play a large role in the remaining chapters.  Overall, Brides of Christ is worth checking out at least give the first chapter a shot and see how you like it.  Religious practices aside it's quite a good look at some interesting characters with their own unique troubles.



  1. interesting how the folks who distribute this dvd put russell's name prominently on the front cover. gee, i wonder why they'd do that when his time in the series is about 2-1/2 minutes? (slight exaggeration!) i imagine his name on the jacket makes people buy dvds.
    i only watched the first couple of hours of this and then lost interest. i thought russell did a good job with his tiny little role. this was probably a pretty big break for him at that stage of his acting career.

  2. @becks - That's exactly why they do it, same thing with Prisoners of the Sun, his name and picture is prominently on the front yet he has about two lines and 5 minutes of screen time!

    It does start to get a little repetitious after a while, but I'm a big Naomi Watts fan so I enjoyed her parts, and the other characters were well written. Wish they had done an episode on Sister Agnus (the stuck up nun) would have liked to have seen more background on that character.


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