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The Thorn Birds

watch a love unattainable forbidden forever INTRO LINES From the raw Australia of the 1900s, comes a turbulent saga that spans the decades in McCullough's best selling novel: The Thorn BirdsMcCullough's best selling novel: The Thorn Birds
The story of a priest driven by ambition he never be what he want. Tormented by desire. From the moment he saw Meggie, he knew he would love her forever. Mary Carson, the richest woman in Australia, and the loneliest. In the years that followed, no one could stir Meggie's heart.
No one till a rover named Luke O'Neill.
The story that travels around the world from the Vatican to the Australian outback. From the islands of Greece to London. The saga that spans half a century echoing through three generations.

Watch movie parts

 
Watch Thorn Birds 1 - Ralph de Bricassart and Meggie Cleary
1 Ralph de Bricassart and Meggie Cleary
 
Watch Thorn Birds 2 - Cardinal robe temptation
2 Cardinal'robe temptation
 
Watch Thorn Birds 3 - I'm never gonna love one of my children more than the others
3 I'm never gonna love one of my children more than the others
 
Watch Thorn Birds 4 - Ralph's ambition and Mary Carson's findings
4 Ralph's ambition and Mary Carson's findings
 
Watch Thorn Birds 5 - God's lessons are very hard for me
5 God's lessons are very hard for me
 
Watch Thorn Birds 6 - Learn to be a great lady
6 Learn to be a great lady
 
Watch Thorn Birds 7 - The ticket to the Vatican
7 The ticket to the Vatican
 
Watch Thorn Birds 8 - This land can be a heaven or a hell
8 This land can be a heaven or a hell
 
Watch Thorn Birds 9 - Because he hated him or because he loved him
9 because he hated him or because he loved him?
 
Watch Thorn Birds 10 - Where your treasure is there will be your heart also
10 Where your treasure is there will be your heart also
 
Watch Thorn Birds 11 - The Carson bequest to provide a link between the Australian church hierarchy and the Vatican
11 The Carson bequest to provide a link between the Australian church hierarchy and the Vatican
 
Watch Thorn Birds 12 - I don't understand that kind of love
12 I don't understand that kind of love
 
Watch Thorn Birds 13 - What might you do to me if I let you?
13 What might you do to me if I let you?
 
Watch Thorn Birds 14 - It's too late, like all my life
14 It's too late, like all my life
 
Watch Thorn Birds 15 - I take it you're the famous Meggie Cleary
15 I take it you're the famous Meggie Cleary
 
Watch Thorn Birds 16 - That is the cruelty because this is his fate
16 That is the cruelty because this is his fate
 
Watch Thorn Birds 17 - You are everything the Church admires in her high officials
17 You are everything the Church admires in her high officials
 
Watch Thorn Birds 18 - We got some honeymooning to do
18 We got some honeymooning to do
 
Watch Thorn Birds 19 - To make it in this game, a man's gotta give it all to the cane
19 To make it in this game, a man's gotta give it all to the cane
 
Watch Thorn Birds 20 - This dream of his to have the best place in Australia
20 This dream of his to have the best place in Australia
 
Watch Thorn Birds 21 - Ralph, you didn't know Meggie married?
21 Ralph, you didn't know Meggie married?
 
Watch Thorn Birds 22 - I'm very concerned about Meggie and your daughter
22 I'm very concerned about Meggie and your daughter
 
Watch Thorn Birds 23 - Welcome to Matlock Island, we're supposed to be a honeymoon resort
23 Welcome to Matlock Island, we're supposed to be a honeymoon resort
 
Watch Thorn Birds 24 - What kind of God would shut men out of Paradise for loving women?
24 What kind of God would shut men out of Paradise for loving women?
 
Watch Thorn Birds 25 - I can live forever on those few days
25 I can live forever on those few days
 
Watch Thorn Birds 26 - I knew that sooner or later he would have to go to you
26 I knew that sooner or later he would have to go to you
 
Watch Thorn Birds 27 - Then you must let me help you
27 Then you must let me help you
 
Watch Thorn Birds 28 - Each of us has within us something that just won't be denied
28 Each of us has within us something that just won't be denied
 
Watch Thorn Birds 29 - Welcome to Rome needing a tour guide
29 Welcome to Rome needing a tour guide
 
Watch Thorn Birds 30 - You are that rarest of things, a truly holy man
30 You are that rarest of things, a truly holy man
 
Watch Thorn Birds 31 - How easily you command the fates of your men
31 How easily you command the fates of your men
 
Watch Thorn Birds 32 - Dane was your son, too, yours and mine
32 Dane was your son, too, yours and mine
 
Watch Thorn Birds 33 - But if you go, your light can burn for us
33 But if you go, your light can burn for us
 
Watch Thorn Birds 34 - We know we understand and still we do it
34 We know we understand and still we do it
 

Characters with pictures


Richard Chamberlain
Richard Chamberlain
as Ralph de Bricassart
Ralph de Bricassart
 
Rachel Ward
Rachel Ward
as Meggie Cleary
Meggie Cleary
 
Christopher Plummer
Christopher Plummer
as Archbishop Vittorio Contini
Archbishop Vittorio Contini
 
Barbara Stanwyck
Barbara Stanwyck
as Mary Carson
Mary Carson
 
Bryan Brown
Bryan Brown
as Luke O'Neill
Luke O'Neill
 
Richard Kiley
Richard Kiley
as Paddy Cleary
Paddy Cleary
 
Jean Simmons
Jean Simmons
as Fiona Cleary
Fiona Cleary
 
John Friedrich
John Friedrich
as Frank Cleary
Frank Cleary
 
Brett Cullen
Brett Cullen
as Bob Cleary
Bob Cleary
 
Stephen W. Burns
Stephen W. Burns
as Jack Cleary
Jack Cleary
 
Dwier Brown
Dwier Brown
as Stuart Cleary
Stuart Cleary
 
Philip Anglim
Philip Anglim
as Dane O'Neill
Dane O'Neill
 
Mere Winningham
Mere Winningham
as Justinne O'Neill
Justinne O'Neill
 
Ken Howard
Ken Howard
as Rainer Moerling Hartheim
Rainer Moerling Hartheim
 
Allyn Ann McLerie
Allyn Ann McLerie
as Mrs. Smith
Mrs. Smith
 
Stephanie Faracy
Stephanie Faracy
as Judy Sutton
Judy Sutton
 
Barry Corbin
Barry Corbin
as Pete
Pete
 
John de Lancie
John de Lancie
as Alastair MacQueen
Alastair MacQueen
 
Antoinette Bower
Antoinette Bower
as Sarah MacQueen
Sarah MacQueen
 
Bill Morey
Bill Morey
as Angus MacQueen
Angus MacQueen
 
Holly Palance
Holly Palance
as Miss Carmichael
Miss Carmichael
 
Piper Laurie
Piper Laurie
as Anne Mueller
Anne Mueller
 
Earl Holliman
Earl Holliman
as Luddie Mueller
Luddie Mueller
 
Richard Venture
Richard Venture
as Harry Gough
Harry Gough
 
Chard Hayward
Chard Hayward
as Arne Swenson
Arne Swenson
 
Sydney Penny
Sydney Penny
as Meggie as child
Meggie as child



Trivia


Producers found the conditions of shooting in Australia to be impossible. Most of the sheep ranches were to far out in the middle of nowhere for film crews to get to, and the requirements placed on American film crews to shoot in Australia were unrealistic. So the entire ranch, Drohgeda was built in California.

Many actresses tested for the role of Meggie, including Michelle Pfeiffer. Finally, it came down to two actresses, Rachel Ward, and Jane Seymour. Producers liked Seymour's acting much better, but felt she was too strong an actress and lacked the vulnerability needed to play Meggie. So the part went to Ward.

A "midquel" was produced in 1996, by CBS entitled The Thorn Birds: The Missing Years, which tells the story of the 19 years unaccounted for in the original miniseries

Rachel Ward and Bryan Brown fell in love on the set. They were married in 1983 and have three children.

The role of Mary Carson was offered to Audrey Hepburn.

The movie has had great success in France. The French title is "Les oiseaux se cachent pour mourir" (The birds hide to die). The series is still regularly repeated on TV channels.



Deviations from the novel

The novel begins in New Zealand on December 8, 1915, Meggie Cleary's fourth birthday. The miniseries begins in Australia five years later. Ralph dies while sitting in a chair with Meggie's head in his lap, recalling the legend of the thorn bird, not in Meggie's arms as in the novel, and not immediately after Dane's funeral.
 

Best videos from movie

 
Thorn bird legend
Thorn bird legend
Ralph de Bricassart: From the moment it leaves its nest, it searches for a thorn tree...
 
Old Age
Old Age
Mary Carson: Let me tell you something, Cardinal...
 
Love and Hate
Love and Hate
Frank Cleary: You still think love can...
 
Free Will
Free Will
Archbishop Vittorio Contini-Verchese: Our God...
 
The leaving
The leaving
Meggie Cleary: I was stupid enough to think...
 
As Good As You Get
As Good As You Get
Fiona Cleary: I was 16 when I met...
 
Perfect priest
Perfect priest
Dane O'Neill: Father did you ever...
 
Hippolytus
Hippolytus
Ralph de Bricassart: Rather shockingly at odds...
 
Fetch a bull
Fetch a bull
Paddy Cleary: We were farmers, you know, back...
 
Upper Balcony
Upper Balcony
Justinne O'Neill: It's very male, though. I mean...
 
Good Education
Good Education
Anne Mueller: You have the face of an angel and...
 
Stockman
Stockman
Luke O'Neill: But that's daft. I've come about...
 
Noble Ambitions
Noble Ambitions
Rainer Moerling Hartheim: When Cardinal de...
 

Trailer



Story


Set primarily on Drogheda, a fictional sheep station in the Australian outback, the story focuses on three generations of the Cleary Family and spans the years 1920 to 1962.


Awards


Won 4 Golden Globes (Best Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for TV; Richard Chamberlain; Richard Kiley; Barbara Stanwyck) and another 4 nominations (Rachel Ward, Bryan Brown, Jean Simmons, Piper Laurie).

The Thorn Birds mini-series was nominated in 16 categories at the Primetime Emmy Awards in 1983, 7 of which were for acting.


Crew


directed by Daryl Duke; based on the novel by Colleen McCullough; produced by Stan Margulies; executive producer David L. Wolper, Edward Lewis; cinematography by Bill Butler; music by Henry Mancini; film editing by Robert F. Shugrue, Carroll Timothy O'Meara; production design by Robert MacKichan.

Daryl Duke
Daryl Duke
  Stan Margulies
Stan Margulies
  Henry Mancini
Henry Mancini



Quotes


FIONA CLEARY: I don't know, and never will how much of our lives we're allowed to choose how much is decided long before we're born. But looking back, I see now choices I could've made and didn't!

ARCHBISHOP VITTORIO: And like all self-perpetuating institutions the Church has always a place for ambitious men. In fact you are everything the Church admires in her high officials. You are conservative, quick, subtle. You know enough never to give away what is going on behind those eyes. And you have the most exquisite gift of knowing how to please. Even when it comes to pleasing those you loathe.
RALPH DE BRICASSART: You make me out to be a Machiavelli, except that he was an Italian.
ARCHBISHOP VITTORIO: My dear Ralph, you are a delight. I can scarcely wait to see your effect on our short, fat prelates in Rome.

RALPH DE BRICASSART: I wanted to be Cardinal de Bricassart more than I wanted our son. More than I wanted you. Of all the wrong I've done the worst is that I never made a choice for love. Half given to you, half given to God but really given to my own ambition. I knew it and I did it anyway. I told myself it was meant to be.

MEGGIE CLEARY: Daddy, I know about Frank. I came to understand it a long time ago. And you're not to blame for anything. PADDY CLEARY: I tried so hard to treat him like one of my own. But he was a thorn in my side from the first. He always stood between us.

FIONA CLEARY: For years I've sat by and watched you do all the things that I did. Crying for a man that you could never have. Giving all your love to his son, the way I gave mine to Frank. Neglecting Jussie, as I neglected you. You've lived your life as I did mine. Driven, always driven! I don't know, and never will how much of our lives we're allowed to choose how much is decided long before we're born. But looking back, I see now choices I could've made and didn't! Even after Paddy died. Even after I lost Frank. I might have asked your forgiveness years ago. But it's too late for me now, Meggie. But it's not too late for you.

JUDY: How about a kiss for Miss Gilly? Come on, give me something to confess on Sunday.
RALPH DE BRICASSART: I mustn't make my best girl jealous, now, must I?

MEGGIE CLEARY: There's one thing you've forgotten about your precious roses, Ralph. They've got nasty, hooky thorns!

MEGGIE CLEARY: You have your work. And you have the love of a man who will never break your heart. That's more than most of us get in a lifetime. Don't give it up for anything. And least of all for me.
JUSTINNE O'NEILL: But how can I leave you here grieving for Dane.
MEGGIE CLEARY: You must. To give us hope. A light has gone out. Not just for me, but for all of us. We will spend who knows how long in mourning it. But if you go, your light can burn for us. Knowing that will bring an end to our mourning.



Open questions


MARY CARSON: When Satan tempted Christ with the whole world is it because he hated him or because he loved him?

MEGGIE CLEARY: What kind of God would shut men out of Paradise for loving women?

FIONA CLEARY: What's a daughter? Just a reminder of the pain a younger version of oneself who will do all the same things, cry the same tears.

MARY CARSON: But birthdays at our ages are rather a mixed blessing, aren't they?

ANNE MUELLER: If you ask me, he's just like most of the men around here. Marry some poor girl and go off and traipse all over with their mates. If a bachelor's life is what they truly want, why marry at all?



Conclusion


All your life I've watched you wage your battles against God. Yet you were always closer to his desires for us than I. In the end you've always been able to love. Somewhere in me I must have known from the very first that Dane was mine. But I didn't want to know. I wanted to be Cardinal de Bricassart more than I wanted our son. More than I wanted you. Of all the wrong I've done the worst is that I never made a choice for love. Half given to you, half given to God but really given to my own ambition. I knew it and I did it anyway. I told myself it was meant to be. Long ago I told you a story, a legend about a bird that sings only when it dies. The bird with the thorn in its breast. You said it pays its life for that one song. But the whole world stills to listen. And God in his Heaven smiles.



Novel's writer

Colleen McCullough
Colleen McCullough (born: 1 June 1937, Wellington, New South Wales, Australia - died: 29 January 2015, Norfolk Island)
. Her mother was a New Zealander of part-Maori descent. She attended Holy Cross College, having a strong interest in the humanities. In her first year of medical studies at the University of Sydney she suffered dermatitis from surgical soap and was told to abandon her dreams of becoming a medical doctor. Instead, she switched to neuroscience and worked in Royal North Shore Hospital in Sydney. In 1963 she moved for four years to the United Kingdom where she met the chairman of the neurology department at Yale University at the Great Ormond Street hospital in London, who offered her a research associate job at Yale. McCullough spent ten years from April 1967 to 1976 researching and teaching in the Department of Neurology at the Yale Medical School in New Haven, Connecticut, United States. It was while at Yale her novel was written. The success enabled Colleen McCullough to give up her medical-scientific career and to try and "live on her own terms". Colleen McCullough finally settled on the isolation of Norfolk Island in the Pacific, where she met her husband, Ric Robinson (then aged 33), to whom she has was married on 13 April 1983. Colleen McCullough is a member of the New York Academy of Sciences and is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.



FINAL LINE When we press the thorn to our breast, we know, we understand and still we do it.