93. Black Narcissus

I think the first thing that needs to be said about BLACK NARCISSUS from Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger is that it’s a stunningly gorgeous film. The story revolves around a group of nuns who try to set up a school and hospital in the Himalayas, but soon find themselves tested by the harsh weather, the fickle natives, and their own memories and desires. I was never quite invested in the plot, despite some engaging moments—particularly the dramatic ending. And the writing predictably suffers from some well-meaning racism. But that doesn’t detract from how beautiful everything is, with the film’s rich color and striking cinematography. The extreme bird’s-eye angles and careful pans of the camera set the mood without any story at all. And the tension between Deborah Kerr and Kathleen Byron, who give wonderfully contrasting performances as two antagonistic nuns, is equally worth watching.

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4 comments

  1. I remember feeling the same way when watching this. I think the only reason we haven’t sold it is because of the cinematography. I don’t really remember the storyline at all. I just remember being kind bored with it while watching. Oh well.

    1. The storyline is sort of all over the place, which I think Powell and Pressburger pull off in some of their other films, but I don’t think it works here. At least it’s beautiful to look at!

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