Molokai: The Story of Father Damien

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Quite engrossing and often moving, this impressively mounted historical drama (from the book by Hilde Eynikel) is set in the late-Victorian era. It tells the story of a missionary from Flanders, Father Damien, who dedicated his life to the dying lepers on the colony of Kaluapapa on the Sandwich (now Hawaiian) island of Molokai - 'a place of terror and death,' as Leo McKern's bishop correctly calls it. The starry cast, including Kris Kristofferson as a rancher/admirer, are impressive, but Wenham's Roman Catholic priest is excellent, downplaying the man's awe-inspiring self-sacrifice, tenacity, courage and humanity. Director Cox plays it admirably straight, mostly, allowing the stark oppositions (beauty/ugliness, sacrifice/self-seeking, etc) to speak for themselves, only weakening in the occasional use of emotive music.

By: WH

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Cast and crew

Director: Paul Cox
Screenwriter: John Briley
Cast: David Wenham
Kate Ceberano
Derek Jacobi
Peter O'Toole
Kris Kristofferson
Alice Krige
Leo McKern
Sam Neill
Tom Wilkinson
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