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Black Narcissus

Black Narcissus (1947)

tomatometer

100

Average Rating: 8/10
Critic Reviews: 6
Fresh: 6 | Rotten: 0

No consensus yet.

audience

89

liked it
Average Rating: 4.1/5
User Ratings: 6,827

My Rating

Movie Info

British filmmakers Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger once again deliberately courted controversy and censorship with their 1947 adaptation of Rumer Godden's novel. Deborah Kerr and Kathleen Byron play the head nuns at an Anglican hospital/school high in the Himalayas. The nuns' well-ordered existence is disturbed by the presence of a handsome British government agent (David Farrar), whose attractiveness gives certain sisters the wrong ideas. Meanwhile, an Indian girl (Jean Simmons) is lured

Jan 30, 2001

Universal International Pictur

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All Critics (26) | Top Critics (6) | Fresh (26) | Rotten (0) | DVD (15)

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.

January 1, 2013 Full Review Source: Time Out New York
Time Out New York
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Powell's equally extravagant visual style transforms it into a landscape of the mind -- grand and terrible in its thorough abstraction.

March 23, 2010 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Production has gained much through being in color. The production and camerawork atone for minor lapses in the story, Jack Cardiff's photography being outstanding.

March 26, 2009 Full Review Source: Variety
Variety
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Theatre this Michael Powell film most certainly is, as stressed by the gothic melodrama of the story and the acting, the studio setting with its beautiful backdrops and vivid colours and the most deliberate of characters and events.

June 24, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

While Messrs. Powell and Pressburger may have a picture that will disturb and antagonize some, they also have in Black Narcissus an artistic accomplishment of no small proportions.

May 20, 2003 Full Review Source: New York Times
New York Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It remains a rapturous, near-indescribable work of cinematic art.

October 30, 2001 Full Review Source: AV Club
AV Club
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The Archers at their most carnal-bonkers-sublime

November 25, 2013 Full Review Source: CinePassion
CinePassion

Michael Powell was right when he called Black Narcissus an "erotic film," but the attraction is pure Pygmalionism.

December 30, 2012 Full Review Source: Slant Magazine
Slant Magazine

A 1947 English film classic about the challenges of desire faced by some nuns in a new mission in the Himalayas.

August 5, 2010 Full Review Source: Spirituality and Practice
Spirituality and Practice

Colonial hubris nunsploitation = an unforgettable movie.

July 22, 2010 Full Review Source: Movie Metropolis
Movie Metropolis

Run, don't walk to see this 1947 classic from Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger.

March 23, 2010 Full Review Source: Guardian | Comments (2)
Guardian

Powell and Pressburger created a film that still feels light years ahead of the opposition.

March 23, 2010 Full Review Source: Film4
Film4

You could say it's the most sensual nun movie ever made.

September 26, 2006 Full Review Source: Combustible Celluloid
Combustible Celluloid

It might be the most beautiful film ever done in Technicolor.

September 19, 2005 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Sexual tension hangs in the air as the wind blows and native drums beat, but it's on a visual level that the film excels.

August 5, 2005 Full Review Source: Empire Magazine
Empire Magazine

In a breakthrough role as the new nun, Deborah Kerr heads a superb cast, including Flora Robson and Jean Simmons, in one of the most stunning color films ever made, deservedly winning the Oscars for cinematography and art design.

July 21, 2005 Full Review Source: EmanuelLevy.Com
EmanuelLevy.Com

Beautiful technicolor film, with a slow-moving, but intriguing plot.

July 16, 2003
Juicy Cerebellum

The cinematography is unforgettable.

September 27, 2002
Lawrence Journal-World

The cinematography of Narcissus -- notably an ending that must have stuck in Hitchcock's mind for decades -- is to die for, utterly pioneering for its time and deserving of its two Academy Awards), but its story has never totally grabbed me.

September 26, 2001 Full Review Source: Filmcritic.com
Filmcritic.com

While the thematic elements of desire and the constant battle between the spirit and the flesh are intricate elements of Black Narcissus, the film will probably be best remembered for its impressive visuals.

February 27, 2001 Full Review Source: Q Network Film Desk
Q Network Film Desk

Audience Reviews for Black Narcissus

In rugged outback In-juh, a handful of pious British nuns lean to their work amongst the sweaty, heathen native hordes, only the climate, the people, the atmosphere, and A MAN, all combine to insidiously fragment the constitutions of these seeking only the Lord's good work. Surprisingly filmed entirely in England in lustrous Technicolor, this adds little to the coliseum of opinion that going native is ultimately maddening, but does make for riveting entertainment nonetheless. Simmons and Sabu simmer showing subtle, subordinate, savage seduction.
November 26, 2012
ApeneckFletcher

Super Reviewer

Quite an amazing film - especially considering it was filmed in a studio 65 years ago using painted backdrops to represent the panoramic Himalayas. Even the topic is refreshing - not all goes according to plan even for nuns.
September 4, 2012
Redlats

Super Reviewer

Nuns on a mountain? Heck yes! Glorious technicolor mountains (colored in with pastel chalks, according to IMDB) where a veritable fortress hides in the Himalayas. The sisters are sent there to administer medicine to the local population (although the local population is highly superstitious of them). The only friend they have waiting there for them is Mr. Dean (David Farrar), assistant to the General. Ironically, this "palace" was originally built to house the original General's many wives (and now it houses the brides of Christ). It's not long before the isolation begins playing at the minds of the nuns and they begin to have doubts of faith.

The technicolor illusions created in this film were said to be inspired by the dutch painter Johannes Vermeer, and the amazingly vivid and colorful backdrops are almost worth the price of admission alone. The film is practically a painting come to life. The story of the nuns is amusing and sometimes frightening and directed with a real flair by writers/directors Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger. It is deservedly one of the top films of it's decade.
May 16, 2012
Mr Awesome
Devon Bott

Super Reviewer

Visually, viscerally and, dare I say it, 'spiritually' breathtaking.
January 2, 2012
flixsterman
Randy Tippy

Super Reviewer

Movies Like Black Narcissus

    1. Sister Clodagh: We all need discipline. You said it yourself they're like children. Without discipline we should all behave like children.
    2. Mr. Dean: Don't you like children, sister?
    – Submitted by Andrew C (2 years ago)
    1. Sister Clodagh: [to Mr. Dean] You are objectionable when you are sober and abominable when drunk!
    – Submitted by Andrew C (2 years ago)
    1. Old General: Do you see that crate? Sausages! They will eat sausages. Europeans eat sausages wherever they go.
    – Submitted by Andrew C (2 years ago)
View all quotes (3)

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