The Magadalene Laundries and Diderot

I was briefly skipping through channels when I stumbled upon a movie called The Magdalene Sisters. Although I pretty much only saw the last 30 minutes or so, what I saw made for quite a shocking film. Based on true events, it follows the story of several Irish girls as they experience life in a Catholic-run institution known as a ‘Magdalene laundry.’

I immediately looked it up afterwards, and found not a few enlightening film reviews on Amazon. I also stumbled upon a 50-minute documentary called “Sex in a cold climate” which features the actual women that inspired the movie.

I don’t know which is worse: the fact that these nuns who are supposed to be full of love for God and His children are the epitome of cruel and twisted, or the fact that so many families were so bent on sending the ‘offending’ members of the family away to such institutions. Just plain heartbreaking.

Link to documentary: Sex in a cold climate

I also couldn’t help but be reminded of French writer Denis Diderot’s novel called The Nun. I read the book for my college French lit class years ago, and for different reasons it really made an impression on me. Although published in 1796, it’s no far cry from the accounts told by Magdalene laundry residents. Regardless of the ‘truthfulness’ of Diderot’s novel–there are speculations that it was made up–I’ve never doubted for a second that at least some of it must’ve been based on facts. And if not, then in a way it seems it turned out to be a kind of creepy–and accurate–forewarning of what can happen in such extremist institutions. (This, however, seems too much of a ‘coincidence’ to me; which is why I believe that Diderot likely had some knowledge of convents). A quick YouTube check revealed that a new movie version of the novel was released in March 2013. Check Netflix to potentially see the film remake, and check out the trailer (in French) below: