“It was just impossible to explain. How do you explain God? How do you explain love?” When she left Hollywood back in 1963, Mother Prioress Dolores Hart remembers, her friends and colleagues were perplexed. And yet, she knew then, when she was a 24-year-old rising movie star, that she was doing the right thing. As recalled by the Oscar-nominated short documentary, God Is the Bigger Elvis, she had appeared in a couple of films with Elvis Presley, 1957’s Loving You and 1958’s King Creole. She had money and fame, a bright career future, and a fiancé, but still, she became a Benedictine nun at the Abbey of Regina Laudis in western Connecticut. The film tells the story simply: Over a series of glamour shots, the Mother Prioress recalls her unexpected opportunity to play opposite Elvis (after she appeared in 1947’s Forever Amber as a child), and then her efforts to find satisfaction in the earthly pleasures that followed. She appeared in movies with Brando and Beatty, Jeff Chandler and George Hamilton, and yet, she found herself yearning for another sort of life. The film includes as well interviews with Dolores Hart’s fellow nuns, who all describe the perfect harmony of their cloistered experience at the Abbey. They eat in silence, they laugh at jokes and toast with wine. The Mother Prioress tends to her parrot Toby and dedicates herself to contemplation and instruction, praying and hearing confessions. “My role is to help the person find hope,” she says, “If you can find hope, you might find faith.”
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