The Mary MacKillop Story: A path to understanding Australia's first Saint


Lucy Bell in Mary The Mary MacKillop Story
'Care of the little ones'...Lucy Bell leads the way in Mary: The Mary MacKillop Story

Mary: The Mary MacKillop Story - Review by David H Mannall, Josephite Associate

I do not believe that any one film or DVD could possibly cover the full scope of Mary MacKillop’s. To do justice to her, the Sisters of St Joseph and what they accomplished in the mid-to-latter-half of the 1800s.

But this film went a good way along that path.

It begins with a young Mary MacKillop galloping across the hills in South Australia. The fact that she learned to do this very early in her life paid great benefits after she formed her order of nuns because that was the only way to keep in touch with them in their distant parishes. The necessary recreation of various houses, schools and other properties is very well done. The originals these have since been “cleaned up” since Mary’s time and so had to be “Decleaned “to make them more realistic. The overall effect is very realistic.

A world Mary would have known

Lucy Bell in Mary The Mary MacKillop Story
Lucy Bell - 'makes the part her own'.
Lucy Bell (The Square, Oscar & Lucinda, Wildside) was chosen to play the part of Mary MacKillop. It is obvious that for this role she has researched Mary MacKillop in great detail and with very good results. It would be very easy to over play the role become too holy, too loving, too much piety. This has not happened. Lucy is committed to the part but through her own individuality has made it her own.

Mary was a caring individual, a woman, a Catholic in a strong male-dominated world. She had her own ideas as to how things should be run and that individuality was to cost her dearly in the future.

This film has a great sense of history and more than adequately portrays the hard life and poverty in the early colonial days of Australia. A world that Mary would have seen almost every day of her life. All the other parts in this film are well performed and the casting is excellent. All the locations were well chosen. The details given about Mary’s life, her approach and dedication to what she believed is very well portrayed by Lucy Bell and she is well supported by the other cast members in the film.

In addition there are a number of interviews during the film. These include Historical Consultant Fr Peter Gumpel SJ, broadcaster and biographer Clare Dunne and Sisters Margaret McKenna and Maria Foale from the Sisters of St Joseph.

As this film was originally produced and released in 1994 it does not cover developments regarding Mary MacKillop’s case for Sainthood since that time. So, also included are interviews with Sister Mary Casey from the Sisters of St Joseph who is responsible for presenting her case to Rome, Director Kay Pavlou, Rev Bill Crews and Principle of a Muslim Primary School Mr Osman Karolia.

This film is well worth the time in watching and it provides more than enough detail for one to follow up on Mary MacKillop’s life if you are so inclined.

Mary: The Mary MacKillop Story has been recently re-released on DVD by Roadshow Entertainment, after its original 1994 theatrical release.

The Mary: The Mary MacKillop Story DVD is available through the Mary MacKillop Place Gift Shop

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