I happen to be in an introductory literature course right now that deals closely with post-colonial literature, so this felt oddly on-theme for the reading I've been doing. While Black Narcissus the novel was written in 1939, this 1947 adaptation feels very much like a goodbye to the British Empire. A conciliation that maybe the British didn't understand the places they claimed as their own.
An unusual psycho-sexual drama involving repressed nuns and a Himalayan village clashing with modernity, produced with the visual archetypes and aesthetics of a classic Disney movie (fun fact: Michael Powell was a HUGE admirer of Walt Disney's work). The timing and acting are flawless. Just wonderful.
'Black narcissus–that's what I'm going to call him...a fine black peacock.' The film's gracefulness and spookiness comes from the finite set design. The 'clear air,' the expansiveness, is knowingly deceptive. As our these habits. The sound design is notable, particularly in Kanchi's dance scene and Sr Clodagh's emerald dream. The past always lives. The Archers vibrantly crafted Godden's intriguingly stark story.
Breathtaking cinematography highlight this fantastic movie about what happens to nuns in a remote area of the Himalayas and become sexually frustrated. Deborah Kerr and Kathleen Byron are too sexy to be nuns so it is no wonder it exist porn for this genre. Jean Simmons is even cuter as a Indian teenager, but male David Farrar is weak but somehow it gloriously show how desperate and sexually frustrated these nuns are.
As Dean says, everything is exaggerated in that place, and he's not wrong. I think that stopped me from connecting to the characters or the situations. However, the story is compelling and interesting, and the tension between the characters (and between the characters and their surroundings) drives the movie well enough.
Always feel divided about this one. Behind the cinematographic bravura is a rather creaky melodrama and some uncomfortable orientalist/colonial treatments that have not aged well. But what cinematography, what colours! The sensuality, sexuality, repression and madness are extraordinarily represented, and even if the whole doesn't work for me, it remains a unique visual and sensory experience.
The visuals alone are worth 5 stars. It's absolutely Five stars for the visuals alone. Incredible that this was all accomplished on a set. One gets sucked into the beauty and strangeness of Mopu. The film combines the clean, precise, warm, and cinematic storytelling visuals of the Archers with an understated (until the final climax) sense of inner torment that I haven't seen in any of their other works.
"Black Narcissus" é como um adolescente de 15 anos que fuma o seu 1º cigarro: dá a 1ª passa e tosse, não habituado ao fumo que lhe invade o interior da boca, a découpage agridoce e planos aproximados das expressões hiperbólicas daqueles seres de branco não nos parecem fazer sentido. (continua no comentário)
Absolutely stunning work as usual from Powell & Pressburger. It's quite amazing how the duo managed to cultivate a sense of time and place so powerfully without ever stepping foot into India. Deborah Kerr superbly anchors the film & encapsulates the surge of hysteria that threatens to destroy the nuns religious conviction. The whole production truly whisks you away in its drama & leaves you so sad when its all over.