Molokai: The Story of Father Damien1999
Molokai: The Story of Father Damien is a 1999 biographical film of Father Damien, a Belgian priest working at the Kalaupapa Leprosy Settlement on the Hawaiian island of Molokai. It was directed by Paul Cox.
With the coming of more immigrants from Asia, cases of leprosy began to appear around the Hawaiian islands in the late 19th century. As it spread, a colony for the isolation and care of lepers was established on the isolated Kalaupapa peninsula on the norther side of the island of Molokai. The Hawaiian government, with support from the Catholic and other churches sent almost all lepers to the colony. The Catholic Bishop who is in charge of the places feels a need to send some priests there to administer last rites to people shortly before their deaths. Fr. Damien volunteers for the same and is sent to the island with the caution from the Bishop that he shall not touch any of the patients. Fr. Damien is welcomed at the island by a man who is a Lutheran who takes care of the provisions sent by the government to the island. The Lutheran points to a mountain and tells him that whoever tries to go beyond it is shot dead to prevent the spread of the disease. On his arrival Father finds that the little chapel in the island is not properly taken care of and is ruined. With help he restores the chapel. With God as his sole help he starts his work at Molokai. A boy who comes to the chapel volunteers to become the altar boy. The boy is the first person Fr. Damien touches. Near to the chapel Father meets a Protestant Englishman turned a patient who was once a medical assistant in Honolulu (a place near to Molokai). He finds it very difficult to adjust with the church but Fr. Damien’s presence is some consolation to him. (He later dies and is buried in the Catholic cemetery). The Bishop who is so considerate relates with Damien’s provincial that there is a report about the father describing him ‘The Christian Hero’ by the prime minister.
Soon a doctor arrives who belongs to Congregational Church and communicates to him that there is a Chinese medicine named Hoang Nan which might be of some help to the patients. The Father with the help of the doctor applies the medicine to some of the patients. During that the doctor comes to know through father about the pathetic conditions of the patients including the sad fate of those who await death in a settlement only to be replaced by others like them if they are to be found dead on the following day.
Father also narrates to him how stealing and robbery and some of the immoral activities go on there because of a sorry lot of the patients who have nothing else to do than to await their death. A woman friend among others named Malulani is a great help to him though she has other feelings toward him which he admonishes sooner. Later the letters father sent to his distant friend become news in the papers and this troubles the authority especially the prime minister. In between these difficulties including the lack of sufficient money and provisions Father Damien continues his work among the lepers. When he finds his letters serve no purpose he pays a visit to the authority which also brings no significant change. The Bishop, who after finding no one to attend Father Damien’s Confession decides to go there by himself, however, he is only allowed to give the absolution on board while Father Damien stays on a boat who at this time has gradually developed symptoms of the disease because of his care closer caring of the patients.
The doctor leaves Father as he finds the situations unbearable to him and also because he wanted to get married. But the doctor’s absence is maintained by Brother Joseph Dutton whom Prof. Clifford sent there. One day Queen of the place pays a visit promising help to the suffering. The authority is however still reluctant to help Father the way he deserves. Once when the weather is not so calm the captain of a ship with lepers orders his crew to toss them to the sea. Father Damien tries desperately to save a few. Meanwhile, his disease develops to worse states and he is still not offered much help. However, a new priest arrives at Molokai to assist him later followed by nuns. Soon the desperate Father succumbs to death with a hope of joining his fellow members in heaven.
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Australian Film Institute
Best Actor in a Leading Role
Australian Film Institute
Best Screenplay Adapted from Another Source
Joseph Plateau Awards
Joseph Plateau Music Award
Festróia - Tróia International Film Festival