· The film ·
It was in giving poor Chinese children, many of whom were orphans, a reason for living after so much fear and suffering that the courageous work of an English housemaid, Gladys Aylward – with an extraordinary interpretation by Ingrid Bergman in the film based on the novel by Alan Burgess, The Inn of the Sixth Happiness, released in 1958 – was crowned with success.
During the First World War Gladys decided to go to China to be a missionary for the purpose of spreading Christianity. In her homeland she was to come up against the coarse scepticism of those who surrounded her. She was not down-hearted, she worked unflaggingly to earn the money for her ticket and so in due course she boarded a train that even crossed Siberia. This stage on the journey was fraught with serious risks but that did not deter the missionary. Once she had arrived in Chinese territory, Gladys had to surmount many difficulties in order to fit into her new environment. With patience and determination she was to get the better of the diffidence of the people and of the local institutions. And their diffidence gave way to love for this undaunted housemaid: a love that she reciprocated, especially for the many children whom she did her utmost to help. (gabriele nicolò)
St. Peter’s Square
Feb. 29, 2020
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