Anchoress (1993)

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A girl decides to become an anchoress in a church to avoid marrying an official.


Folk Horror

Historical Drama


Christine Carpenter - Natalie Morse

Meg Carpenter - Brenda Bertin

Pauline Carpenter - Toyah Willcox

Reeve - Eugene Bervoets

William Carpenter - Peter Postlethwaite

Priest - Christopher Eccleston

Ragged Martin's Wife - Mieke De Groote

Mary - Annette Badland

Alice - Ann Way

Bertha - Julie T. Wallace

Bishop - Francoise Beukelaers

Daisy - Veronica Quilligan

Oswald - Grant Oatley

Drover - Michael Pas

Mason - Jan Decleir

Carter - Erik Konstantyn

Dyer - Peter Van Asbroeck

Innkeeper - Guy Pion

Priest's Boy - Hugo Harold-Harrison

Ragged Martin - David Boyce

Old Pilgrim - Timothy Barlow

Twin Pilgrims - Corine Michel and Nancy Michel

Character thumbnails with links to profiles

Detailed Synopsis

In the village of Shere, Christine Carpenter watches as two men carry a statue of the Virgin Mary across the wheat field. As they stop to rest and take a nap, Christine approaches the statue and kisses it. After the statue is placed in the local church, Christine and Meg Carpenter enter the church and place apples in patterns around the statue. Meg leaves and Christine falls asleep and later the door to the church opens and Meg returns with Pauline Carpenter, the Reeve, William Carpenter and the Priest. Pauline yells at Christine for offering the town's apples to the statue. The Reeve demands that every apple be brought back. but the Priest says that the offering can not be given back. He points out that if Eve had not taken the apple, then they never would have had Mary. That night, Christine has a dream about the statue and the church. The next day Christine and Meg are forced to gather rocks from the field. The Reeve rides up and offers a fruit to Christine and she gives it to his horse. He then tosses one to Meg, who eats it.

Christine, Meg, Pauline, Ragged Martin's Wife, Mary and Alice dig a hole in the field and pour milk and honey into it. Bertha sees them doing it and runs away. As they are harvesting the grain, Christine has images of the wheat stocks turning into strands of hair. Christine then goes to the statue and as she is altering the hair on it, the Priest catches her. She tells him that the statue's hair is wrong and then asks to stay with the statue. The Priest tells her the story of an anchoress who dwelled in a church and now flies in Heaven. The Priest tells Pauline that Christine has requested to become an anchoress, which upsets Pauline as she wanted Christine to marry the Reeve. The Priest mentions the lusts of the flesh and Pauline brings up that she knows he has been having an affair with Daisy. Pauline then tries to convince Christine not to do it. The Bishop arrives in town and spies on the Priest talking with Daisy. Oswald is peeing while the Bishop, Drover, and Mason wait.

Christine is brought to the church and questioned by the Bishop while Oswald translates from Latin to English. The town watch as Christine answers the questions correctly. The Mason then walls Christine into the church with her toy marble being the only thing from her old life that she keeps. The Priest's Boy shows the other children where Christine lives. Pauline brings Christine food and as the Reeve walks towards her cell, she closes the window flap. Mary asks Christine's advice about what she should do about pursuing Robert. More and more people bring offerings to Christine. Meg starts to ask Christine's advice about the Reeve, but leaves. Ragged Martin's Wife and Ragged Martin asks her why they don't have any children. The Dyer goes to speak to Christine, but when he calls her name, she doesn't answer. The Priest catches Pauline touching Christine and forbids Christine from touching others. Outside, Pauline sells snake oil, while the Priest sells effigies of Christine. An Old Pilgrim asks Christine if his sins will be forgiven.

The Reeve wins a mirror in a game and gives it to Meg. In the evening, Meg tells Christine that Pauline is drunk again and then leaves with the Reeve. A plague victim goes to Christine and tells her to embrace her body and leaves. Christine then touches and pleasures herself. Daisy goes to speak to Christine and overhears the Priest arguing with Christine over the color of Mary's robes. The Reeve has silk sent to Meg and Pauline slaps her and accuses her of having sex with the Reeve. The Priest accuses William of sinning and suggests Pauline is leading him astray. Meg marries the Reeve and goes to live with him. Pauline brings her doe to be bred by the Drover's buck. William sees them and then sees her with the goat and assumes she has done something with the goat. Christine stops giving people advice and ignores anyone that asks her questions. Christine shows the Priest an embroidery she made in which Daisy is pregnant. Meg goes to visit the other women at the mill and Pauline mostly ignores her. Twin Pilgrims come to visit Christine, but she is too weak from the Priest forcing her to fast to speak with them. The Priest forbids Pauline and Meg from seeing Christine.

The Reeve admits to Pauline that Meg doesn't love him as a husband and asks her for a remedy. Meg and Alice call for Pauline and tell her that Daisy is about to have her baby. Pauline goes to help Daisy, but the baby dies in child birth. The Priest walks up and sees the baby is dead and then asks if it was baptized. Pauline shows him the baby and he turns his head away and calls it another soul condemned to Hell. During winter, Meg brings Christine garments to help her keep warm. She then goes home and playfully puts snow on the sleeping Reeve and he runs around and chases her. William tells the Priest, Daisy, Bertha, Alice, Mary, Priest's Boy and others that he saw Pauline consorting with a goat and at night she forces him to watch as she has sex with the Devil. The Priest tells the others that Pauline murders the unborn, which causes Daisy to leave. He then accuses Pauline of trying to push him into the river and calls her a witch.

Christine starts to dig her way out of her cell. Bertha says that she saw Pauline curse the Bishop. Pauline hears a group of villagers chanting witch and coming towards her and hides in the well. The villages find her and she slips and falls into the water. Christine manages to dig her way out and at the well, Pauline drowns. Daisy and the Drover help pull Christine from the ground and carry her away. Christine wakes up in the Drover's tree house and stretches her arms to the sky. The Priest finds the hole that Christine dug herself out of and covers it up. The Priest has a meeting with the Reeve, the Innkeeper, and Carter and tells them that he wants Christine brought back, while the Reeve thinks she should hang. The Drover takes Christine to the capitol and she walks inside of the church as the Reeve and the Priest also enter the church. She walks up the ladder to speak with the Bishop and asks to be released from her vows. She says that Mary's house is in the ground and the Bishop yells that she must burn. Christine climbs into a cavern under the church and excitedly touches the cavern walls.