All the films from all the editions, including those subsequently removed, presently totalling 1177. 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.
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),…
In a perfect world, this is what comic book movies would look like. Powell and Pressburger took every visual trick in the book, it feels like, to craft this. It's not just the colors (which are widely touted) nor the painted backdrops (which feel more real than the best CGI) nor the huge spaces (which convey isolation and expansiveness at once--you feel so small and alone knowing how much of the world there is). It's also the blocking (see how Kanchi relates to the Little General, for instance) and the movement (the birds in their cages, the edges of the mountain making people flinch, the camera adjusting angle in an angular room) and the transitions (fading from Mr. Dean to…
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…
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…
Director: Michael Powell (and Emeric Pressburger) (Third Film)
Black Narcissus is startling. It's startling because of its omniscient and thick erotic atmosphere, and all of this, in a film about nuns setting up a school in India. The immediate purity of the clothing worn by the nuns is (yet again) masterfully inventive as it opposes the natural and vibrant colours of the Himalayas and its surrounding terrain. Carnality meets oppressed sexuality in a film that doesn't rely on plot or story but wholly on the colours to express, and the atmosphere to emote and the occasional spike in emotional verbalisation from a hysterical Kathleen Byron.
Her moments are the pinnacle because of her fantastical performance: and her hysteria…
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…
I had the great pleasure to revisit this tremendous film for Way Too Indie. My coverage of that, and other P&P films, can be found here: waytooindie.com/news/tiff-technicolor-and-the-archers-in-three-two-one/
Intriguing, well crafted, but somewhat tedious drama from the Archers Production directed by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger.
Deborah Kerr leads a group of inexperienced nuns from India into Nepal to a high mountain pass that has been unable to hitherto maintain a nunnery.
Color cinemascope is used to the maximum effect and the art direction is to die for.
Still, why the nuns start to experience insanity because of the high altitude as well as question their faith remained somewhat unclear.
Inevitable ending still holds much power.
Much as I love that comforting feeling when watching a film that follows a familiar plot template (which is roughly 95% of them, probably), there's a real thrill associated with something like Black Narcissus, a unique, almost genre-less, totally unpredictable work of technicolor art / magic.
Powell and Pressburger had the sheer audacity to recreate the fucking Himalayas in a London studio, and not just succeed in creating a convincing setting, but also create one of the most outrageously stunning films ever. And not just that, but they confirm that nuns exclusively eat sausages.
There are some fascinating themes going on in Black Narcissus - religion, suppressed memories, British colonialism - but most of all, there's just an absolute bucketload of atmosphere, the wind always blowing through that draughty old palace and setting those nuns a-wandering...
(Minus half-a-star for David Farrar's ridiculously unflattering shorts, in case you were wondering)
I struggle with acting before the 60's....but I do love a good nunnery. Gonna try again with Scorsese's commentary.....
This is an extremely beautiful film. I really liked the set design and all the paintings they used for the backdrops. It also had very good performances from the leads. Kathleen Byron was especially good as Sister Ruth. She managed to be both tragic and frightening. My only real complaint is that it was very obvious that Kanchi was actually white.
Title: Black Narcissus
Runtime: 100 mins
Directed By: Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger
Technicolor: Of Course
Ease of Googling that Information: Very
Prior Knowledge of FIlm: None
Expected Rating: ★★★★
Actual Rating: ★★★★
Time Started: 16:40
Lectures Attended Prior: 2/2
Previous Night's Sleep: 6.5 hrs
Fatigue Factor: 3/10
Deranged Women Featured: 1
Mentions of Sausages: 1
Relevance of Above Information:: 4/10
I had grown up quite privileged. Not that my every desire had been handed to me on a silver platter, but I never was left without basic human needs. Sure, I had to deal with that bitch I call a sister, as well as the daily routine of attending class and dealing with my extreme sense of…
Black Narcissus is a perfect, utterly compulsive film. It has a uniquely strange, brooding atmosphere and is pregnant with strangled emotions of desire, lust and jealousy. From its perfectly judged editing and measured pace, to its extraordinary use of colour, every moment is perfectly composed and every frame is a thing of beauty.
It seems to me an amazing technical achievement in every respect.
Black Narcissus would have also fit quite perfectly into next month's season, Films of Unease, Disquiet and Pervasive Dread (Part 1)
A hard film to categorize and a bit slow in the middle but still stands as one of the most beautifully shot and best examples of technicolor on film.
I can tell it's gonna be incredibly difficult choosing a favorite Archers film. All the ones I've seen have been pretty friggin magnificent. This one especially played into a lot of the things that I find interesting, such as sexual repression. Supposedly a lot of this film was trimmed down for the initial American release and it's not hard to see why! This film is just bubbling with wonderful tensions, with the "villain" of the film SPOILER going totally mad due to sexual repression. The whole last 30 minutes explodes with tension and beauty and horror in a way that's so fantastic. The entire film feels like a thriller that's pretending not to be a thriller. And of course the…
Every film that has ever been nominated for an Academy Award in any category. Enjoy!
Combined the average ratings (Critic's & Users) from IMDb, Rotten Tomatoes, Metacritic and Letterboxd, and then weighted and tweaked the results…