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.
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…
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…
One of the most amazing films I've seen in my life. Words cannot do justice to the sublime beauty of this film. It was visually stunning, complex and worked on more levels than I could take in on a single viewing.
More head-scratching courtesy of the BBFC, which gave Black Narcissus a U certificate. It’s a bit confusing because the film features a nun with a vividly blood-stained habit, but it’s even more puzzling when you consider the film’s themes. I suspect that Black Narcissus got it’s U certificate because the BBFC thinks that children won’t really understand what’s on the screen. Amusingly, when the film was first released in 1947 it suffered from the opposite problem. In America, the Catholic Legion of Decency had a heart attack over it. Apparently they wanted people to believe that nuns weren’t human, and spontaneously generated within nunneries so they would have no connections to the outside world and all its temptations and disappointments.…
A sumptuous spiritual movie that features this glorious reveal of a nun wearing—GIGAGASP—a RED DRESS!!! Powell and Pressburger transport us to a lush, romanticized Himalayan mountainside to follow Deborah Kerr and her Rat Pack of Nuns as they try to bring some “sivilisation” to the local Indians. But their attempt backfires when they suddenly find themselves inexplicably entranced by the area’s mystical juju. This movie’s a stunner—interesting to look at, with steel-willed, unbreakable females who are strong as hell. I wonder if Hitchcock saw this when he decided to make Vertigo?....
Sight & Sound Challenge 43/250
AKA "Nuns With Bitchface"
Still crazy after all these years. Would make an interesting double bill with The Shining. Movies about places that drive people crazy for no expressly stated reasons.
Gorgeous. A tense, sensual thriller that's not only a paragon of genre filmmaking, but also one of the most palpable cinematic representations of a suppressed sexuality. Narcissus' greatness is heightened by its secondary, though no less nuanced, exploration of the misplaced charity of neocolonialism in the 20th Century. The Technicolor cinematography, hyper-real production design and melodramatic acting together create a deeply ominous, unforgettably hyperbolic tone. Even more stunning when you realise it was made in 1947.
So beautiful. And that's just David Farrar.
Staggeringly beautiful and packed with simmering, repressed emotions. The use of colour, camera movement and scope would make this essential viewing even if the rest was terrible but the rest isn't - the storyline is fascinating and strangely subversive, kwpt on the tracks by a vibrant cast.
In Martin Scorseses commentary of Black Narcissus, he mentions a specific shot of some pink gardenia flowers that made the audience gasp because of it's beautiful technicolour glow. He mentions that to truly appreciate it, "you've gotta see it on a big screen. Bigger than your normal cineplex. Bigger than that."
I did it Marty. I finally saw Black Narcissus on the big screen. A very big screen. And it was marvelous.
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…