Black Narcissus ★★★★

At the invitation of General Todo Rai of Mopu, five Members of the order of Sisters of Mary attempt to found a nunnery in an isolated area of the Himalayas. The old building, formerly a “palace”, provided for the convent is perched on the edge of a narrow ridge. The sisters are confronted by isolation, a perplexing culture, and the wide-ranging view from the cliff edge.

The approach to sexual relationships of the local population clashes with the more conservative outlook of the sisterhood. Adding to the pressures on the sisters, the presence of a handsome, domineering white man (David Farrar) opens the mind of the mother superior (Deborah Kerr) to contemplation of her loss of relationships with men and pushes the slightly unbalanced Sister Ruth (Kathleen Byron) into a rage.

The sisters’ only choice is to leave the Himalayan area and return to their convent in England.

An extreme example of the clash of cultures brought to film by the team of Powell and Pressburger. Beautifully photographed in technicolor by Jack Cardiff.

Seen at the TCM Film Festival, Hollywood 2017