All the films from all the editions, including those subsequently removed, presently totalling 1167. 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),…
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…
I have mixed feelings on this--I manically swing from thinking it is a 5 star enterprise, to remembering that there were many stretches which felt relatively common (hint: "common" in this context means "bland").
Visually Black Narcissus is great. The part I struggled with was the somewhat normal ("bland") cast of characters. Not that they were horrible--and many of them had some great moments. But I don't think those moments as a whole were enough to completely give them a pass.
But what the movie lacks in characters, it makes up some ground in the surprising escalation of tensions in the final 1/4 of the film. It almost-but-not-completely takes a turn towards horror.
Finally, Greek mythology goes blaxploitation, y'all! Where the original Narcissus was turned into a flower, Black Narcissus gets turned into cannabis, right? Well, I'm very sorry about that, because that was offensive to black people, Geek-I mean, Greek mythology buffs, and film historians, because this film is white enough when you take out of consideration that it predates the blaxploitation era. To have "Black" in its title, this film sure was blowing minds back in 1947 with its vibrant color and all that stuff, you know, to the extent the Himalayas could be vibrant with its color. This film sure is good-looking, even though it isn't all that accurate, considering that nuns don't usually look like Deborah Kerr, and are…
Feels unbelievably dense, as if I'd only scratched the surface with just one viewing. May need to see this again before I feel I have a full handle on what I just watched, but it's mysterious and intoxicating and gorgeous to look at on the big screen.
Interesting critical look at religion and organizational colonialism, the "narcissism" of the British Empire in particular. The nuns are representative of the most human traits of those who seek to live spiritual lives: pride, carnal desire,
I'm just a guy that likes movies, and I doubt I have anything new to offer in terms of insight into this film, but I have now watched it 3 times, and each viewing has increased my love and admiration for it. Denying ourselves humanity, imposing our will on nature, and the struggle to maintain sanity are all things that are explored in the Archers film, as well as a palpable eroticism that is wonderfully suggested at every turn. And my goodness...is there a film that is more technically marvelous and flawlessly crafted? Black Narcissus functions as a spectacular achievement in visual effects, while also delving into some heady human drama, and providing honest to goodness entertainment. This may very well be one of the most perfectly realized motion pictures ever made, and I am completely in love with it.
A great deconstruction of the suppressed desires within the monastic community, with a great performance by the stunning Deborah Kerr.
And David Farrar is objectively the epitome of manliness
Undoubtably a cinematic feat (especially in the final 20 minutes) but I found the uneven tone, odd pacing and melodramatic style unfortunately alienating.
While I liked Black Narcissus when I saw it years ago, seeing it on Blu-ray was a totally different experience; it's gone to the top of the list of movies I'd gladly travel to see on 35mm. The use of color here is amazing even by Powell and Pressburger's usual high standards; a simple reveal of a red dress late in the film is one of the most erotically charged moments I've ever seen in a movie. "Best Nunsploitation movie ever" is dubious praise, but Black Narcissus wins it by a mile, as well as being one one the best examples of a movie setting - here, a remote Himalayan convent - that is a perfect externalization of the characters' psychological states. Also, I read afterwards that Ruth Byron and Michael Powell were involved at the time, and Deborah Kerr was his ex, which makes so much sense.
I stumbled on this lovely gem of a film while watching a Deborah Kerr marathon on TCM in my senior year at UConn. It was accompanied by "The Innocents" and "The End of the Affair," the latter of which was quite dull.
- 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