MOLOKAI – THE STORY OF FATHER DAMIEN

1998 / 120 min / Super 35 mm / Drama

 

Director:  Paul Cox

Producers:  Tharsi Vanhuysse, Grietje Lammertyn

Co-producer: Anton Kramer

Executive Producer:  Alex Verbaere

Associate Producer:  John Briley

Line Producer:  Andy Howard

Screenplay:  John Briley based on the biography by Hilde Eynikel

Cinematographer:  Nino Martinetti

Sound Engineer: James Currie

Production Design:  Jan Petitjean

Art Direction: Joris Mertens

Composer:  Paul Grabowsky

Editors:  John Scott, Ludo Troch, Kristina Hamilton Grobler

Cast:  David Wenham, Kate Ceberano, Jan Decleir, Thom Hoffman, Derek Jacobi, Keanu Kapuni-Szasz, Alice Kruge, Kris Kristofferson, Leo McKern, Sam Neill, Peter O’Toole, Michael Pas, Dirk Roofthooft, Tom Wilkinson, Aden Young

MOLOKAI: THE STORY OF FATHER DAMIEN Awards

2000:  Joseph Plateau Music Award - Wim Mertens

MOLOKAI is a tale of true heroism and humility, a triumph of the human spirit.  In the 1800s, leprosy has become such a scourge in Hawaii that Prime Minister Gibson (Sam Neill) banishes the afflicted to the island of Molokai. When Bishop Maigret (Leo McKern) and Father Fouesnel (Derek Jacobi) request a priest for these lost souls, Father Damien (David Wenham) volunteers.

 

Father Damien is in for a rude awakening when he arrives on Molokai: He imagined he'd be consoling the afflicted, not dealing with rampant lawlessness and zero medical care. After fixing up a chapel, he shutters a whore house and reopens it as an infirmary. During years of tending his flock, Father Damien risks his own health by reaching out to the infected and inevitably contracts leprosy himself.
 

Although Princess Liliuokalani (Kate Ceberano) bravely visits Molokai with humanitarian intentions, the government refuses to lavish resources on this no man’s land. So Father Damien defies church rules and improves conditions for the lepers by speaking out in the foreign press through his brother.
 

In the wake of the resulting international outcry, philanthropists donate money and new volunteers like Brother Dutton (Tom Wilkinson) join the crusade. Father Damien has less luck securing the services of a doctor; the only one he persuades to come to Molokai soon flees, unable to cope with the chaos and crush of needy patients. While politicians and religious leaders quibble over bureaucratic matters, Father Damien quietly continues his mission, even as he suffers the advanced stages of the disease.  By the time of his death, he's seen his dream come true. Nursing nuns join his hospital, and his legacy of diligent care giving seems secure.

Decent Films Guide - Steven D Greydanus - 2003

“The edifying, at times wrenching story of the 19th-century 'Apostle to the Lepers'… an inspiring, challenging depiction of Christian service and charity.”

 

Urban Cine File - Louise Keller - 2002

“Profoundly moving and affecting, Molokai is a heartbreaking portrayal of an extraordinary man. It’s an inspiring story, and although times have changed, there are aspects of human behaviour that have not, and still ring true.“