All the films from all the editions, including those subsequently removed, presently totalling 1154. An easy way of seeing how…
Based on the novel of the same name by Rumer Godden. It is a psychological drama about the emotional tensions within a convent of nuns in an isolated Himalayan valley.
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),…
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…
David's Movie entry #15: February 8th, 2014
In Memory of David Eisen
It's amazing to imagine how this entire film was shot inside a production studio yet the sets and environment created felt so authentic. The work and dedication put into these mesmerizing pastel chalk drawn backdrops, the massive amount of lighting, and the seamless transition to make them blend in with the set pieces/design is a true craftsman's masterpiece.
The story however is the one aspect that I think needs a little help, other than that I can see the flawless merit that the majority of film lovers see in the Archer's foray into nunnery and isolation. It is actually just that. I could see come the film's climax…
Set atop a mountain 9,000 feet above ground level, Black Narcissus concocts a potent mixture of religion, faith, sexual tension and spiritualism. A seemingly placid group of Anglican nuns hardly appears to be the setting for such a controversial blend of conflicting emotions. Placed in the hands of The Archers however, it becomes a wonderfully judged take on psychological suffering.
Led by Sister Clodagh (Deborah Kerr), they head up to the desolate palace near the Himalayas that is constantly harangued by the wind, day and night. They have been tasked to set-up a hospital and a school for the local Indian community which would serve as a basis for their conversion into the Christian faith.
In addition to the poor…
Back from my first viewing of this film on the big screen, thanks to the BFI's Passport to Cinema series.
A huge bubbling cauldron of melodrama, this Technicolor triumph from The Archers succeeds in making us feel as if we are in the overheated Indian atmosphere with Pinewood sets and exquisite matte paintings, and the fetishistic and sensual photography makes everyone look beautiful and interesting.
Little details make this film great - not just Ruth slowly putting on her lipstick, or Clodagh's flashbacks to a life before she took up her vows, but the beggar girl watching the Young General, the breaking of the rains, the flower gardens, and quiet peace of the Holy Man.
The Archers made some fascinating features in colour, but I think this might just be their best.
Not the stodgy nun's tale I was (foolishly) expecting; it's full of life and vigour and colour, even before Sister Ruth does away with her habit and puts on lipstick. Powell said it was the most erotic film he ever made, and I have a hard time arguing that, even without seeing the vast majority of his work; the exotic setting, emotionally-charged story, and incredibly alive performances all reinforce this.
And, holy fuck, what cinematography. Shot in a studio? You've gotta be shitting me.
Everything has already been said when it comes to how beautiful this movie is, with the colours, authentic enviroments, lightning and so on. Hat off for that. But everything else then:
My expectations were pretty high, I must admit, and I was somewhat disappointed when it came to the main plot in Black Narcissus. Which for the most part is painted in watercolours, when it should've been painted with hard strokes of coal. But I guess the scene with the bellringing (and the minutes before that) makes up for that. And I really should have in mind the fact that it's still a movie from the 40s I'm watching, and a truly great one at that. Sureley ahead of its…
In the 1940s, the British filmmaking duo of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger completed a series of masterpieces in what was their most prolific decade. Although A Matter of Life and Death can more accurately be described as the first film in which Powell, Pressburger, and cinematographer Jack Cardiff utilized color as a means of expressing the interior emotions of a character, perhaps no singular effort is more emblematic of their collective talents than Black Narcissus. As a film very much about repression, so much is completely left unsaid – Deborah Kerr, calmly determined and angelic in her nun’s veil, is the image of Christian stoicism in the face of David Farrar’s relentless sexual pursuit. The highly-stylized finale is a…
Being a film with an increasingly psychological edge, the histrionic acting lacks the nuance necessary for the build-up to feel organic. It is aided by the spectacular set though, full of glorious colors and its feeling of nature's harshness (even though it is filmed in a studio). The histrionics turn out to work well in the film's second half, when the emotions blow up and everything resembles an operatic horror set piece, right down to the gripping, tense climax.
Deborah Kerr / Kathleen Bryon / Jean Simmons, viento y Jack Cardiff
An interesting examination of hubris, using the setting of a convent in a remote mountain. Regrettable 1940s "native" makeup is the only detraction on this harrowing film.
I had never watched this before and sitting down to watch a film about a convent of nuns in India was not what I had in mind for this evening. But in the end, 1947's "Black Narcissus" will be the film that sets me off on a Powell/Pressburger viewing spree. It will also become my new high mark for cinematography - ha! new? it's from 1947!!
Jack Cardiff's Technicolor cinematography and Alfred Junge's design make every frame absolutely exquisite.
And as beautiful as it all is to look at it is made all the more engaging by the performances of the cast - Deborah Kerr, David Farrar and Kathleen Byron especially.
Kerr plays Sister Clodagh who is assigned to head…
Terrifying cinematography and setting.
- A Trip to the Moon
- The Great Train Robbery
- The Birth of a Nation
- Les Vampires
- The Godfather
- Seven Samurai
- The Godfather: Part II
- 12 Angry Men
most recent update - Thursday, April 10, 2014, 11:23 PM EST
The letterboxd crew has unveiled a new feature that…
- 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!