Black Narcissus

Black Narcissus

DVD - 2000
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Majesty gives way to mystery, and marks a harrowing descent into madness, when a young British nun is ordered to establish a convent in the remote Himalayan mountains. Sister Clodagh (Kerr) is a serious young novitiate assigned to lead a crucial mission, with the reluctant recommendation of her Mother Superior. Together with a disparate group of nuns, Sister Clodagh will face strange peoples and customs, a harsh and unforgiving climate and a wrenching struggle with her own past that will prove the ultimate test of her devotion and faith.
Publisher: [Irvington, NY?] : Criterion Collection, c2000.
ISBN: 9780780023567
0780023560
Branch Call Number: DVD Fic Blac
Characteristics: 1 videodisc (101 min.) : sd., col. ; 4 3/4 in. + 1 insert.

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TheeAvebury
Sep 19, 2017

Suspenseful and understated, visually beautiful - the cinematography is complex and subtle, using color, light, and camera angle to convey the increasing tension among the characters. One of my favorite films, well worth repeated viewings.

b
bmobaggins
Jan 24, 2016

Basically everything Nursebob said. Found some of the performances a little stilted, and perhaps some of the atmospheric elements don't transfer as well as they do in the novel, but the film is georgeous, and the final act certainly unnerving. Overall the film is really well played, and probably the best Powell and Pressburger film that I have seen. The dvd is also distributed through criterion, and has fairly insightful extras. Highly recommended. Kudos to the FVRL for acquiring this film.

k
kareneb
Dec 30, 2015

A very strange and disturbing movie.....

EuSei Sep 29, 2015

Be prepared for a very, very theatrical (as in play) interpretation: this movie was made in 1947. So, if you don’t like the old ways of acting, pass on this one. The open-minded will be mesmerized by the 25 year-old Deborah Kerr’s beauty and poise. Not even a nun’s habit was able to dawn the splendor of her beauty. (Or did that white halo surrounding her actually enhanced it instead? I can’t decide it…) Par to it only the loveliness of the flowers in the (studio-created) Himalayan spring that filled the screen for a few minutes. I read somewhere that Johannes Vermeer supposedly inspired the movie colors and light. In the first scene, where the Mother Superior appears near a window, you will certainly recognize Vermeer style. According to Sarah Smith (British Film Guide), Jack Cardiff was influenced by Vermeer and Caravaggio: "They both lit with very simple light. Many painters did, but with Vermeer and Caravaggio you were very conscious of it; they really used the shadows. Caravaggio would just have one sweeping light over everything so that you were aware of the single light." The natives dress in gorgeous clothes, the colors and their vivacity a stunning and wild contrast to the nuns’ quiet and (deceivingly) monochromatic personas. A beautifully made movie which, nevertheless, the Catholic Church was justified in condemning.

z
zacharywm
Mar 14, 2015

A Technicolor drama set in the Himalayas. A covenant of nuns struggle to fulfill their missionary work as a charming and arrogant pony riding man reminds them of their hidden desires and brings out their inner demons. Watch out: this film is brimming with exotic people, costumes, and pageantry!

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Nursebob
Dec 14, 2014

Directors Powell and Pressburger’s gothic melodrama is one of the most strikingly photographed Technicolor marvels the British film industry has ever produced. The interplay of light and shadow, bathed in rich primary colours, lends a painterly quality to their work which often borders on pure expressionism. Choosing to film the entire epic on a UK soundstage rather than on location, they maintain a firm sense of artistic control which sees the wonders of northern India transformed into a series of psychological metaphors and plumbs each scene for its most primitive emotional content whether it be Mother Superior ringing the morning bell while perched on the edge of an abyss, or the increasingly neurotic Sister Ruth smearing crimson lipstick across her mouth. This constant juxtaposition between the sacred and the subtly erotic, tinged with elements both tragic and horrific, make for an exhilarating cinematic experience which has not dimmed in the intervening sixty-five years. A masterpiece.

f
Fuzzy_Wuzzy
Jun 29, 2014

Why is it that whenever it comes to the likes of any picture with a Christian-theme (such as Black Narcissus), there never seems to be any room in its story for such things as levity and/or light-heartedness? Eh? Why?

The way I see it, if the ones who were supposedly filled with the glorious spirit of Christ were really so moved by their experience, then this, in turn, should be their time of absolute cheer & joyfulness. But, once again, this wasn't the case.

On top of that downer, this film also made a feeble attempt to tackle such issues as lunatic madness and erotic fantasies which caused considerable torment for certain members of this nunnery.

If you to ask me, I thought, right from the start, that these women were quite obviously very badly adjusted to their chosen vocation as so-called "servants of god". And it was because of this particular quirk that I'd say Black Narcissus pretty much stretched its plausibility-factor almost to the very breaking point.

It is surprising to note that this film's lush, exotic setting (which took place within the far-off region of the majestic Himalayas) was, in fact, all created right inside Pinewood Studios, London.

*Trivia Note* - Based on Rumer Godden's 1939 novel of the same name, this film's oddball title refers, not to any poetic allusions, but, instead, to the name of a pungent aftershave (imported from England) which the young, vain, Indian prince frequently splashed all over himself.

g
garycornell
Jun 08, 2014

Directed by English director Michael Powell, Black Narcissus is a beautiful film. It takes place in abandoned palace in the remote Himalayan Mountains where we find Deborah Kerr trying to manage a convent school. Nuns have endless patience and she will need all she can muster with the help of the other nuns. A wonderful story with great photography. Few of us will ever experience life in the Himalayan Mountains. One of the Best English Movies I have ever seen. Do yourself a favor and take this DVD home.

NightGoat72 Feb 23, 2014

One of the most overwhelmingly gorgeous films ever made. Jack Cardiff’s cinematography here is, for my money, the greatest of all time. The colors and images captured here are simply unforgettable. Whenever I watch this film, I feel as though I’m inhabiting a world, being hypnotized by an atmosphere, and experiencing something singular. It’s a rush of unbridled romanticism.

r
Ron@Ottawa
Nov 29, 2013

This 1947 film has not lost its lustre over time, and the Criterion DVD delivers good images. It was mostly shot in a studio in the UK, and yet when I first saw this film I was fooled into believing that there had to be some mountainous outtakes. This film is a visual feast, thanks to good camera work and excellent lighting. The two leading ladies, Kerr and Byron, held up the films well while being ably supported by David Farrar. Black Narcissus is about flesh against the soul at 9,000 ft. A film that should be viewed multiple times over one's lifespan.

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Monolith
Jul 31, 2013

(Discussing the arrival of the nuns at the palace) Angu Ayah: "...What do they eat?!? How do I know what nuns eat?!?" The Old General: "I have remembered that. (He walks to the window and points out some deliverymen) Do you see that crate? ...Sausages. They will eat sausages! Europeans eat sausages wherever they go!! They will eat them when they come, and until they can tell the cook what else they want to eat."

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