Black Narcissus (1947)

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AUDIENCE SCORE

Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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Movie Info

In this unusual, visually stunning, and dramatically compelling film, Anglican nuns attempt to establish a school and hospital in the Himalayas in buildings that formerly housed a harem. But the sisters find the sensual atmosphere unsettling, and eventually sexual attraction to the ruling general's ruggedly handsome agent leads to tragedy.
Rating:
NR
Genre:
Classics , Drama , Faith & Spirituality
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
 limited
On DVD:
Runtime:
Studio:
Universal International Pictur

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Cast

Deborah Kerr
as Sister Clodagh
Esmond Knight
as Gen. Toda Rai
Jean Simmons
as Kanchi
Flora Robson
as Sister Philippa
David Farrar
as Mr. Dean
Sabú
as Dilip Rai
Kathleen Byron
as Sister Ruth
Eddie Whaley Jr.
as Joseph Anthony
Jenny Laird
as Sister Honey
Judith Furse
as Sister Briony
Ley On
as Phuba
May Hallatt
as Angu Ayah
Nancy Roberts
as Mother Dorothea
Mary Hallatt
as Angu Ayah
Eddie Whaley Jr.
as Joseph Anthony
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Critic Reviews for Black Narcissus

All Critics (28) | Top Critics (7)

This is a landmark of Hollywood-on-Thames trompe-l'oeil.

Full Review… | August 2, 2015
New Yorker
Top Critic

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.

Full Review… | December 31, 2012
Time Out
Top Critic

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

Full Review… | March 23, 2010
Chicago Reader
Top 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.

Full Review… | March 25, 2009
Variety
Top 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.

Full Review… | June 23, 2006
Time Out
Top 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.

Full Review… | May 20, 2003
New York Times
Top Critic

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.

Kevin M. Williams
Kevin M. Williams

Super Reviewer

½

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.

Red Lats
Red Lats

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.

Devon Bott
Devon Bott

Super Reviewer

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