How does a child born both blind and deaf communicate with the world?
Based on the true story of Marie Heurtin, this beautifully filmed movie, set in the picturesque French countryside of the late 19th century, tells a story of a little girl who was born unable to see or hear. Trapped in her own body with seemingly no way to communicate with the world or the world with her, Marie’s Story is one of transformation, not only for her, but to those who took the time to love and understand her.
The opening scene takes us for a moment into the silent and dark world in which she lives. This darkness quickly transforms into a burst of sunlight streaming on to Marie’s (Ariana Rivoire) face as she soaks in the heat of the sun on her skin. Not only has this film captured beauty for the eye but the viewer is awakened and invited also to enjoy the texture of leaves, sounds of the breeze through the trees and the scent of tomatoes and apples and nature.
In an attempt to help their child, the Heurtin’s seek the help of an Institution for deaf girls run by nuns. Arriving at the institution with matted, dishevelled hair and covered in dirt, Marie is frightened and makes a wild run through the vegetable patch arriving at a tree which she climbs and refuses to come down from.
Seeing the unruly state of the girl, Mother Superior (Brigitte Catillon) can see no possibility of helping a child who is both blind and deaf, and sends the family away. One special nun, however, feels an immediate love for Marie as well as a strong call on her life to help thislittle girl.
Sister Marguerite’s (Isabelle Carre) requests to take sole responsibility for Marie are eventually permitted by Mother Superior, despite her growing concern for Marguerite’s ailing health.
It is the beginning of a period of trial for Sister Marguerite, but the love she has for Marie persists and perseveres throughout the tantrums and wild animal-like behaviour.
Connecting with Marie takes time and through a series of small steps, Sister Marguerite is able to form a unique bond with the girl. As Marie’s wildness continues, at times it becomes almost unbearable and Marguerite comes close to giving up.
It is six months before Marguerite even attempts to brush Marie’s hair. Marie throws her body around the room, kicking and screaming. Marguerite finally succeeds and after the wrestling match has subsided, is also able to bathe and dress the girl. The turning point Marguerite had been waiting for has arrived. Marie is in wonder and awe of clean clothes and wearing shoes for the first time and it seems the effects of persistence is beginning to pay off.
As Marie begins to calm down, her world begins to open up revealing treasures in relating to other humans. Marguerite also learns more about the beauty of the textural world Marie lives in and as Marie takes a leap in her trust of Marguerite, the two find a connection and love for each other that creates a beautiful bond between them.
Through the gift of sign language, Marie is now able to communicate, and the discovery of new words is delightful to watch.
On their visit to the institute, Marie’s parents are astounded to see the progress in their daughter. It is like they are meeting her for the fist time as they are reunited and now able to communicate their love for each other.
With some major health set backs for Marguerite, Marie regresses quickly refusing to eat and resorting to her old wild ways again.
In a very touching scene, Marguerite is able to explain to Marie about death and God. This scene is especially moving. As the love between the two grows, we see the roles reverse as Marie begins caring for Marguerite in her sickness.
With themes of trials and victory, courage in affliction, life and death, this character-driven film depicts the bond between a very special nun and the love she has for one, who otherwise wouldn’t have had a chance in the world. The seemingly miraculous transformation is not only in the evident impact of Marguerite on Marie, but also Marie’s effect on those who take the time to care for someone who may have otherwise been forgotten. A beautiful movie that shows how God is deliberate and cares for every soul.