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      Black Narcissus

      Released May 26, 1947 1h 40m Drama Mystery & Thriller List
      100% Tomatometer 38 Reviews 87% Audience Score 5,000+ Ratings A group of Anglican nuns, led by Sister Clodagh (Deborah Kerr), are sent to a mountain in the Himalayas. The climate in the region is hostile and the nuns are housed in an odd old palace. They work to establish a school and a hospital, but slowly their focus shifts. Sister Ruth (Kathleen Byron) falls for a government worker, Mr. Dean (David Farrar), and begins to question her vow of celibacy. As Sister Ruth obsesses over Mr. Dean, Sister Clodagh becomes immersed in her own memories of love. Read More Read Less

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      Critics Reviews

      View All (38) Critics Reviews
      Kevin Maher Times (UK) Watching the film today, Ruth feels more misunderstood than ever... Rated: 5/5 Nov 10, 2023 Full Review Michael Sragow New Yorker This is a landmark of Hollywood-on-Thames trompe-l'oeil. Aug 3, 2015 Full Review Keith Uhlich Time Out There's something truly unearthly about this place of howling winds, yawning chasms and atmosphere thick with temptation. Sanctity, it will be proven, is no match for sin. Rated: 5/5 Jan 1, 2013 Full Review Sarah Cortinaz InSession Film No matter how many versions grace the screen, it's the lure, the brooding intensity, and the hidden sensuality, that makes Powell and Pressburger's Black Narcissus, a magnetic film. Rated: A Apr 23, 2024 Full Review Zita Short InSession Film Kathleen Byron is also fantastic but Kerr’s subtlety means that she is allowed to go wild and become unrestrained in the second act. The yin and yang that they form is central to the film’s success... Feb 10, 2023 Full Review Dilys Powell Sunday Times (UK) [Black Narcissus] has the oddly uncomfortable air of a work which has never quite decided on its mood... But when place is allowed to dominate, this is a film of astonishing quality. Aug 8, 2022 Full Review Read all reviews

      Audience Reviews

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      Gertrude F Tremendously intense in all the best ways, yet manages to maintain humanity, beauty, and tenderness. The film spoils with gorgeous cinematography. Rated 5 out of 5 stars 06/08/24 Full Review noa r the beauty of technicolour cinematography! reminded me very much of "the sound of music (1965)" - nun/s in a gorgeous location, questioning their own religion. sister ruth is! the ending made me sad as i felt deborah kerr didn't deserve all that trauma and was still unsure about her religious choices. Rated 4 out of 5 stars 04/10/24 Full Review Jeff S A visually appealing and culturally intriguing movie that gradually works itself into a psychological fervor. Rated 4 out of 5 stars 02/14/24 Full Review Steve D I am not sure what I just watched or why. Rated 2 out of 5 stars 01/19/24 Full Review Matthew D A fascinating journey into a nun's mind. Influential English directors Emeric Pressburger and Michael Powell's psychological drama Black Narcissus (1947) is very impressive. Black Narcissus features truly beautiful matte paintings in the backdrop for the Himalayan Mountains. Pressburger and Powell's dark shadows and bright days are very pretty. The high altitude gives atmospheric winds and blowing fabrics in the background. Writers Emeric Pressburger and Michael Powell adapt Rumer Godden's story about a nun remembering past love and forming a nunnery in the Himalayas, while another nun finds a forbidden romance. Having nuns, who have sworn to a life of celibacy, deal with the temptation of sex and love in intriguing. Casting director Adele Raymond found excellent English actresses. Deborah Kerr is enthralling and likable as the tough young Mother Superior Sister Clodagh. She is determined and gripping in one of Deborah Kerr's greatest roles. Sabu is entertaining as The Young General Dilip Rai. David Farrar is interesting as the rough and flirtatious Mr. Dean, who tempts Kathleen Byron's feisty and impressionable nun Sister Ruth. Farrar is not afraid of playing Mr. Dean as a jerk and openly flirting with Sister Ruth. Byron is fun with her forceful manner and clear lustful desire for Mr. Dean with her looks of longing. Flora Robson is nice as the pleasant and likable Sister Philippa. Jean Simmons is strangely in brownface, but beautiful and innocent as the young girl Kanchi. Jenny Laird is good as Sister Honey. Judith Furse is great as the helpful and sturdy Sister Briony. Esmond Knight in unfortunate brownface is funny as The Old General, who says the nuns may eat sausages. May Hallatt is crazy as the raving old woman Angu Ayah. Eddie Whaley Jr. is fun as the young interpreter Joseph Anthony. Shaun Noble is pleasant as Clodagh's past sweetheart Con. Nancy Roberts is mean and brutish as the older Mother Superior Dorothea. Editor Reginald Mills does beautiful dissolves, fades, montages, and splices matte paintings neatly to give the illusion of depth in shots. Mills keeps things moving so 100 minutes feels quite short. Cinematographer Jack Cardiff does stunning far wide shots of the mountains. Production designer Alfred Junge's large convent set is neat with traditional Nepalese paintings. All the matte paintings are mesmerizing. I wish every film used them still. Set decorator Vishwanatha Nageshkar got authentic furnishings, paintings, candles, rugs, and more. Special effects artists Sydney Pearson, E. Hague, Jack Higgins, and James Snow do wonderful practical effects throughout Black Narcissus for a dreamy effect on the viewer. Composer Brian Easdale delivers both English symphonic glory and authentic traditional world music to give Black Narcissus a stranger vibe. Sound designers Stanley Lambourne and Gordon K. McCallum does wonderful work capturing the loud winds up in the mountains for constant ambiance. Costume designer Hein Heckroth makes lovely silk outfits for the natives and tremendous large habits for the nuns. Makeup artist George Blackler slaps tons of paint on the British cast playing the natives, but I found it somewhat tasteful without looking too offensive as far as these old films go. Hairstyling from Biddy Chrystal is impressive with tons of different looks. Overall, Back Narcissus is an interesting film about nuns, love, faith, fear, and colonization. Rated 5 out of 5 stars 09/05/23 Full Review Red T A Classic Drama of Nuns who struggle with being human in a surreal way. The acting is solid overall but the main problem is because their Nuns they never really show emotion and dress so similar outside of Ruth & Kerr the rest all just sort of blended in. They were still well done but it was hard to tell the differences amongst them because of that. It was great seeing Kerr in flashbacks that helped show emotion. Add onto that the serious acting that came across dry a lot of times as well but it was still well done. The standout here is the drop dead gorgeous cinematography, a hallmark of Powell & Pressburger. Every scene looks like your staring at a beautiful painting and pops, which lifts a lot of the dry acting as well. The music is very good also though I wish it was used a bit more and a little more distinct. The editing and pacing are solid also. While thing just sort of happen when they arrive at the mountain, we stay focused on Kerr majority of the time and she acts as the anchor that ties all the other story arcs together. Though Ruth & Kerr are the only ones that really have solid arcs, none of the rest is really filler. The ending does get surreal and interesting but I wish the rest of the film would've been more like that in the middle where it is consistent but dry and hard to tell the supporting Nuns stories and characters apart. I was very on the fence about giving a 4 or 4.5. But its worth watching just because of how incredible it is to look at, listen too, and it is interesting the whole way with a good ending. Anyone who is a fan of P&P, any actors in this, or dramas will enjoy this. Though it can come across a bit dry throughout, if your a fan of dramas particularly adaptations of novels or British dramas than you'll like this. Rated 4.5 out of 5 stars 05/26/23 Full Review Read all reviews
      Black Narcissus

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      Movie Info

      Synopsis A group of Anglican nuns, led by Sister Clodagh (Deborah Kerr), are sent to a mountain in the Himalayas. The climate in the region is hostile and the nuns are housed in an odd old palace. They work to establish a school and a hospital, but slowly their focus shifts. Sister Ruth (Kathleen Byron) falls for a government worker, Mr. Dean (David Farrar), and begins to question her vow of celibacy. As Sister Ruth obsesses over Mr. Dean, Sister Clodagh becomes immersed in her own memories of love.
      Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger
      Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger
      Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger, Rumer Godden
      Production Co
      The Archers
      Drama, Mystery & Thriller
      Original Language
      Release Date (Theaters)
      May 26, 1947, Original
      Release Date (Streaming)
      Feb 24, 2017
      1h 40m
      Most Popular at Home Now