The title of this HBO documentary would have you believe that Dolores Hart’s toughest choice was leaving Hollywood (and Elvis) for life on a Benedictine Abbey. However, this short film actually highlights the many personal sacrifices she, and every woman on the Abbey, have made to become nuns.
God is the Bigger Elvis charts Dolores’ life from Hollywood starlet to Mother Prioress, the second-highest ranking nun at the Abbey of Regina Laudis in Connecticut. In 1959, at the height of her stardom, Dolores took a trip to the Abbey to relax from a role on Broadway. The Abbey was never far from her mind, and a few years later, she left her fiancé, Don Robinson, to become a nun.
Framed by Dolores’ journey, the movie asks the question: Why would any woman give up her life to join a Benedictine monastery? It explores the answer through a series of interviews with several of the nuns that demonstrate their varied backgrounds. One novice reveals her battle with alcoholism, and explains that she still attends AA meetings. As she explains, joining the Abbey does not wipe away your personal battles. Even Dolores has kept in touch with her former fiancé, who is clearly still heartbroken. Dolores, though certain of her decision, also struggles to talk about leaving him.
Beautifully told, God is the Bigger Elvis presents a glimpse into the daily life on the Abbey and reminds us that that these women do not give up their personal identity once they join. The movie, which was nominated for best short documentary (it runs 35 minutes), premieres tonight on HBO at 8pm.
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