This is what happens when your car breaks down on a Sunday morning and you have nothing else to do…
After opening a convent in the Himalayas, five nuns encounter conflict and tension as they attempt to adapt to their remote, exotic surroundings.
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…
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),…
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…
Just like they managed with their movie The Red Shoes, directors Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger make Black Narcissus look ahead of its time, and not solely through the use of technicolour. Then they introduce a bunch of interesting things: a group of nuns that are send to a remote and almost uninhabitable location to start a convent, a holy man praying day and night at the site without ever seeming to move an inch, a rich general’s son who comes to join the school for women and children, and a seventeen year old orphan girl that gets a place within the convent as well — unfortunately, my favourite story arc (the one in which aforementioned orphan girl seduces the…
I was quite surprised and blown away by this one. Indeed the colors are strong and vibrant with this one but the camera movement and placement are just as important and worth noting. Black Narcissus is the type of film where one can tell from the get go that a lot of thought was put into this and the close attention to detail cannot be ignored.
The Himalayas backdrop serves as a wonderment as well where it almost becomes a character of its own. It's without a doubt a work of love and even the topics of love and creation is prevalent throughout. In its own odd way it can be considered an erotic film as well. Each of the…
I never heard of this film before I watched it and knew very little about it. It is fantastic. The plot sounds pretty low key, a group of British nuns go from Calcutta to set up a mission in the Indian Himalayas. One has a crisis of faith, another falls for the only British man in the area.
It certainly doesn't look like a film made in 1947 on a lot in England. The sets are lush, the backdrops beautiful (and not as hammy as some painted backdrops from this era) and the colouring looks modern (I don't know what system was used). There are some anachronisms (a bit of browning up, but it was made in 1947, so it is somewhat forgivable). However, the acting and imagery is very memorable, in particular the lipstick scene and when one nun finally throws off her habit and walks out of the look of a demon in her eyes. Worth checking out.
There is Technicolor, and then there is TECHNICOLOR!!! And beyond that, there is TECHNICOLOR!!! in the hands of Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger, and Jack Cardiff. Especially if it’s been restored and presented by Criterion.
The lurid lushness of over-saturated color has never been as stunningly realized as in Black Narcissus. Between A Matter of Life and Death (1946), Black Narcissus (1947), and The Red Shoes (1948), Cardiff, Powell, and Pressburger created three of the most amazing samples of Technicolor on film. The only other filmmaker whose Technicolor technique has knocked my socks off was Mario Bava, but this British trio were the tops.
Amazingly, this film about British nuns in settling a school and hospital in the Himalayas, which beyond…
This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Phew, between this and Vertigo the association between nuns and falling from a height is strong...
Cinematographer Jack Cardiff and art director Alfred Junge forge an awe-inspiring partnership to create scene after scene of stirring imagery and often breathtaking detail. Walter Percy Day's matte paintings for the Himalayan setting are majestic, adding a heavily stylized simulation of depth to a movie full of emotionally evocative patterns of colors and shadow. As the characters are framed within ornate sets, or under rolling banks of awesome clouds, or within the obscuring darknesses of uncertainty and doubt, nearly every scene of Black Narcissus is a feast that nourishes multiple hungers simultaneously and stimulates the senses of the audience commensurate with the characters' intoxication by that infernally clear mountain air. It's a masterpiece of restrained expressionism, and a perfect example of how all of the visual elements in each shot can be used to heighten the feeling in the story.
A ravishingly shot, beautifully told tale of atmosphere and sexual repression. Only the masterful Powell & Pressburger could make the appearance of a red dress as shocking as anything in Hitchcock's oeuvre. 9.5/10
Yeah I really have no idea why I even chose to watch this in the first place. I was just counting the seconds until it finished. Just a whole load of screaming about very very little.
Shocking it was all made in England most of the characters very unlikable but the atmosphere and Deborah Kerr are excellent
Can't believe this was 1947....incredibly modern. Gorgeous film. Feast for the eyes.
Movies that are slightly off.
A list that, if nothing else, proves the day-to-day usefulness of applied statistics.
Between 2015 and 2016, a series of…