This is a film that many young viewers from advanced economies would be puzzled by. The concept of denying one's sexually for a spiritual union with God that is dedicated to serving His church and His church alone. The loss of religious faith in our society may make this film appear quaint or anachronistic to many modern viewers, in which many would interpret the nun's chastity or willingness to lead a life of celibacy as being more reflective of sexual repression rather than any spiritual enlightenment. However, we should not underestimate the power of religious faith in some individuals and their consequent desire to uniquely serve God, and for these people truly motivated by faith and not any social or psychological coercion; their decision is not viewed as any major sacrifice but as a joy. We also must remember that at the time this film was taking place, WWII, and when it was made in the mid-fifties nun's had a much more prominent role and influence in society than they do today, so choosing to be a nun would not have been such an unusual circumstance.
The film, even though set during WWII in the Pacific theatre, is about the relationship between the nun, in an academy award nominated performance by Deborah Kerr, and the corporal, charismatically played by Robert Mitchum, who never looked more handsome or virile in a film. It is rather charming to see how their relationship develops, and how Mitchum's character with his checkered past falls in love with Kerr's nun, even though he never sees anything of her sexuality other than her face and personality. He learns to love for the very first time in his life, and becomes truly devoted to her, and in the process becomes a better and more complete man, a man with a greater spiritual dimension and a capacity to truly love. It is powerful how the film keeps to its integrity, following its own story path that is true to the characters rather than pander to an ending the audience would obviously want.
Finally, and most importantly, the film is terrific entertainment. The viewer is drawn into the world of these two characters and the beauty of their island paradise surroundings, largely due to the great direction and pace of its talented director, John Huston, and the great performances of its two attractive stars.
A great and yet highly unusual romantic film about unrequited love that I can highly recommend.