Mother Teresa: In the Name of God's Poor

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Mother Teresa: In the Name of God's Poor
Directed by Kevin Connor
Produced by Chandran Rutnam
Peter Shepherd
Leslie McRay
Dominique Lapierre
Written by Jan Hartman
Dominique Lapierre
Carol Kaplan
Robert Halmi Sr.
Starring Geraldine Chaplin
Music by Irwin Fisch
Cinematography Mike Frift
Edited by Barry Peters
Release date
5 October 1997
Running time
95 min.
Country United Kingdom
United States
Language English

Mother Teresa: In the Name of God's Poor is a 1997 film directed by Kevin Connor. It stars Geraldine Chaplin as Mother Teresa. Mother Teresa herself had approved the script but withdrew her imprimatur shortly before her death.[1] It was broadcast on what was then known as The Family Channel on 5 October 1997.


In mid-1940s Calcutta, Mother Teresa teaches geography at her convent. One day, she and one of the other sisters go outside the convent to find food for their girls, only to get caught up in a riot. Though they manage to make it back to the convent, Mother Teresa is shocked by the sight of the massive number of people starving in the streets. Haunted by the images of the hungry people, Mother Teresa decides to leave the convent to devote her life to caring for the poorest of the poor.

Soon after her arrival in the slums, Mother Teresa teaches the children to read and write, but she faces opposition from the adults in the slum who mistrust her because of the colour of her skin. As Mother Teresa continues her crusade to help the poor, some of her former students from the convent come to her with the desire to become nuns and help her on her mission.

The films end scene sees Mother Teresa travelling to Oslo, Norway to receive the Nobel Peace Prize.



The film was generally well received by critics. At the time of the broadcast, The Philadelphia Inquirer applauded the film as a triumph for the network, as "probably the most important show it has presented in its 20-year history." Praise was lavished on the "authoritative" Chaplin who "commands the little screen at every turn. Quietly and without histrionics, she convincingly demonstrated Mother Teresa's absolute faith that God guides and God provides, despite opposition from both church and state." The review continued to praise how the film is "skilfully and winningly dramatized..and directed with assurance and passion".[1] William Brailsford of The Washington Times noted that "Miss Chaplin gives a convincing performance as Mother Teresa, imitating her soft voice and her awkward yet charming mannerisms and re-creating that aura of piety that surrounded the "saint of the gutters." This remarkable actress has us in the palm of her hands early on, and she never lets go." Brailsford also praised the realism of the project, "The film's portrayal of the horrors of poverty and disease in India's streets is chillingly realistic. With extreme vividness, some scenes will cause viewers to wince as they become bystanders to the insufferable agonies of the poor and starving."[2]

Caryn James of The New York Times also praised Chaplin "Ms. Chaplin is fine in the role, full of quiet determination and faith". However, James felt that "This faithful telling of her middle years cannot capture her inner life. She seems like one more extremely good woman. Whatever Mother Teresa might have thought of that, it doesn't go far as biography or drama."[3]

The film won the Audience Award at the 1998 Art Film Festival and the writers were nominated for the Humanitas Prize.[4]


Chaplin drew on her experience as a convent-educated schoolgirl in Switzerland and her once-held desire to become a nun.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b ; Winfrey, Lee. Doing The Dirty Work That Real Sanctity Often Demands The Family Channel's Telemovie About Mother Teresa Is Probably The Most Important Show It Has Presented In Its 20-year History. As The Tough And Canny Little Nun, Geraldine Chaplin Commands The Little Screen At Every Turn. The Philadelphia Inquirer. 5 October 1997
  2. ^ Brailsford, William. Poignant tribute to Mother Teresa. The Washington Times. 5 October 1997
  3. ^ TELEVISION REVIEW; Young Teresa, Saintly but Not Yet Lionized, The New York Times. 3 October 1997
  4. ^

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