All the films from all the editions, including those subsequently removed, presently totalling 1167. An easy way of seeing how…
After opening a convent in the Himalayas, five nuns encounter conflict and tension as they attempt to adapt to their remote, exotic surroundings.
I suppose it was only fitting that I rejoined my run of The Archers films today with this particular film after making this list earlier!
I have to admit to being rather daunted by the prospect of watching Black Narcissus. In fact, it's probably a feeling I have about almost all of The Archers films. Not because I was worried about them being difficult or complex - in fact, so far they have all been about as approachable a selection of films that the uninitiated could possibly hope them to be.
It was more to do with the writing about them afterwards that I was daunted by. You become aware, even…
The theme is from Forster and I Know Where I’m Going!, worked out "at the back of the beyond" by The Archers at their most carnal-bonkers-sublime. The old harem known as "the House of Women" is perched on the edge of Himalayan precipices, turning it into "the House of St. Faith" is the mission accepted by the Irish Sister Superior (Deborah Kerr) and her Anglican order. Quite a challenge for sanctity: There are howling winds up above and drums in the bamboo jungle below, plus the hirsute thighs of the sardonic government agent (David Farrar) to erode the resolve behind the pale habits. The stony cloister with clogged-up plumbing, the bejeweled Little General (Sabu) and the wayward odalisque (Jean Simmons),…
Film #29 of Project 40
”Remember, the superior of all is the servant of all.”
To put it simply Black Narcissus is about failure. About limitation. About arrogance. About madness. It was a terrifying experience to tell you the truth. On the surface it is a gorgeously shot movie with sharp colors and beautiful scenery but beneath this dazzling superficial layer lies a petrifying world of carnal desires, verbal threats and mental confusion with characters who are haunted by their own fears and doubts. Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger take their characters to the end of the world and leave them alone with their own erratic minds and erotic fantasies and then witness their physical, spiritual and mental collapse. Black…
This one's going to take some time and another viewing or three to properly absorb. But it's absolutely brilliant.
A meditation on spiritual commitment versus the temptations of the world, set in a nunnery high in the Himalyas. And what a world. Gold, silk, flowers, mountains. Men who run around with their shirts off -- and who remind Deborah Kerr's nun of her lost love. Sensual Indian paintings on the wall of the old palace where the nuns now reside; look carefully, and you'll find a few bare breasts on the walls. Candlelight dancing in the dark hallways.
And all of it shot in gorgeous technicolor by Jack Cardiff. It's not as unreal as The Red Shoes, and yet the…
Step off the edge of the Himalayas and float beside the nuns.
This movie is beautiful. A shining example of an early film that decided to use color to help tell the story. The setting provides the opportunity for some of the most creative and visually inventive film techniques. It's no wonder this film cleaned up awards for Best Cinematography. The film focuses on a small village which is home to, The House of Women, set on a cliff. Coincidentally, The House of Women, ends up being a house for a group of nuns trying to bring education, healthcare, and the good word to these native people. Using models and trick photography, Powell, Pressburger, and designer Junge brought this fictional…
This film is an undeniable technical masterwork. Shot in scintillating technicolor by genius cinematographer Jack Cardiff, the cinematography in Black Narcissus is simply masterful. Every frame is meticulously placed, and the scenes pop off the screen. The mise-en-scene and costume design attributes to the darkening mood, as the film explores the problems with isolationism, and questions spirituality in one of the most anti-conservative religion films I've seen in a while.
The acting is surprisingly good in its own way. Deborah Kerr is the standout, effectively portraying a stone-faced young nun, who is struggling to come to terms with herself. Her woodenness at first seems an attribute of poor quality, but as her character's story is fleshed out, her performance takes…
Deborah Kerr <3
Just a few comments...
1) The first (and best) "Nunsploitation" film ever made.
2) Jack Cardiff's cinematography gives me an erection.
3) Kathleen Byron is wicked hot in this too.
That aside, among the finest of all British cinema. A film both secular and non-secular can enjoy that will reflect their separate beliefs.
What Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger have achieved with BLACK NARCISSUS is really quite astounding. Using things such as humans, cameras, people who do things, lights, and carpenters they have managed to make a motion picture. And not just not any motion picture. Oh, no. I'm amazed at Powell and Pressburger's ability to create something of this grandeur. Did you know that everything that happened in this movie is fake? I sure didn't. I was AMAZED to find out that the nuns weren't actually people, but so-called "characters" being portrayed by humans. I think some may have used the term "acting" for it. Amazing!
While visiting Seattle recently, I had the pleasure of seeing Black Narcissus in 35mm with Thelma Schoomaker, wife of the director and famed editor for Martin Scorsese. Sometimes regarded as a horror film, the movie is about English nuns who take over a Himalayan church on the edge of a giant cliff and are tempted by the raw passion of their environment - at least that's how it's meant to be read. Restrictions were so tight on the film, esp. since it was about nuns, that the sexual undertones are deeply buried, and a manly man in shorts is all it takes to turn these women from God. However, it's a finely photographed movie and might have worked if the…
"Remember, the superior of all is the servant of all." - Mother Dorothea
Where to begin with Black Narcissus? With the staggering aesthetic value? No, too easy. How about the thematically-rich narrative, veiled with a mist of sexual tension and wild passion, just waiting to tear through into sight? No, too difficult. What about the complex ensemble performances, forming beautiful parallels across the board? Not a good place to start. How about Powell and Pressburger?...
Wow. These guys, man. How did they do it? Michael and Emeric were ahead of their time with this film. True, it's steeped in imperialist racism and stereotypical perceptions of the Oriental, but that is also why the film is such an effective masterclass in…
I am giving 4.5 primarily due to THAT scene. Phenomenal piece of directing and staging.
Re-watched it with my mom in a double bill with The Best Years of Our Lives. She liked it, and so did I (evidently).
This Powell and Pressburger art direction dream is the tale of a bunch of Anglican nuns attempting to establish a nunnery in India. This is a story that builds from interesting moral drama (should they be there?) into a fever dream, quite literally a fever dream, which has a surprisingly intense conclusion. The film is a masterful use of cinematic techniques and tonal control, acting as another Powell Pressburger film I can't recommend enough along with The Red Shoes and The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp.
It also works much as another beautiful missionary tale, The Mission. For some reason, these tales, as long as they don't dip too much into offensive caricatures of the local populace, really appeal…
This review reportedly contains spoilers. I can handle the truth.
- A Trip to the Moon
- The Great Train Robbery
- The Birth of a Nation
- Les Vampires
- The Racket
- 7th Heaven
- Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans
- Chang: A Drama of the Wilderness
Every film that has ever been nominated for an Academy Award in any category. Enjoy!
- Citizen Kane
- 2001: A Space Odyssey
- Tokyo Story
- The Rules of the Game