Starring Deborah Kerr, David Farrar, Flora Robson, Jenny Laird, Judith Furse, Kathleen Byron, Esmond Knight, Sabu, Jean Simmons
Directed by Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger
Expectations: Very high. I’ve wanted to see this for years, even more so after seeing The Red Shoes a couple years back.
Black Narcissus is a great movie. It’s not one I loved, or one that I was especially taken by, but there’s no denying its greatness (especially in terms of cinematography). One of the most sexually tense films I’ve ever seen, Black Narcissus is an astounding achievement, even if its story is a little too melodramatic at times (even for me). I can only imagine what audiences of the day thought of it; I’m sure it lit up the screen like few other films of the era. Although, looking over the Academy Awards for that year, I’ve only seen 2–3 of the films, so perhaps I’m not the best judge of 1947 films!
Black Narcissus is about a small group of nuns tasked with setting up a school and a hospital at a remote, mountainous location in the Himalayas. The site was originally where the Indian king housed his harem, which isn’t of much concern to the nuns when they first arrive, but over the course of the film it would seem to have an effect on them. That’s not to say they all become nymphomaniacs or anything like that, but the nuns do begin to show chinks in their armor of faith, and the original purpose of the building housing their newly formed convent is one of many factors contributing to this degradation of their beliefs.