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Black Narcissus

4.6 out of 5 stars 40 customer reviews

Price: CDN$ 57.88
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Product Details

  • Actors: Deborah Kerr, David Farrar, Flora Robson, Jenny Laird, Judith Furse
  • Directors: Emeric Pressburger, Michael Powell
  • Writers: Emeric Pressburger, Michael Powell, Rumer Godden
  • Producers: Emeric Pressburger, Michael Powell, George R. Busby
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, DVD-Video, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (US and Canada This DVD will probably NOT be viewable in other countries. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • MPAA Rating: UNRATED
  • Studio: Criterion
  • Release Date: Jan. 30 2001
  • Run Time: 100 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars 40 customer reviews
  • ASIN: B00004XQN4
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #71,701 in DVD (See Top 100 in DVD)
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Product Description

Product Description

Plagued by uncertainties and worldly desires, five Protestant missionary nuns, led by Deborah Kerr's Sister Clodagh, struggle to establish a school in the desolate Himalayas. All the elements of cinematic arts are perfectly fused in Powell and Pressburger's fascinating study of the age-old conflict between the spirit and the flesh, set against the grandeur of the snowcapped peaks of Kanchenjunga. Criterion is proud to present Black Narcissus in a new Special Edition.

Amazon.ca

The Criterion Collection takes its second go at the Powell-Pressburger classic Black Narcissus, first issued by the company as title no. 93 in 2001. This 2010 disc retains some extras from the first issue, including a commentary track with Michael Powell and Martin Scorsese, and a 25-minute documentary called "Painting with Light," focusing on the work of cinematographer Jack Cardiff. The new extras, some incorporated from recent international DVD releases, include a warm 9-minute introduction by filmmaker Bertrand Tavernier (accompanied by various production stills); an 18-minute featurette called "The Audacious Adventurer," again with Tavernier as guide through the film; and "Profile of Black Narcissus," a 25-minute behind-the-scenes piece that includes comments from Cardiff, actress Kathleen Byron, and critic Ian Christie. All of these are affectionate and useful, if somewhat repetitive taken together. The most important reason for the Criterion reissue is improved technical quality for the film itself, as the previous release was deemed problematic compared to other international versions. Those improvements having been made, this version can only be called a wow. --Robert Horton --This text refers to the Blu-ray edition.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
The Criterion DVD edition of "Black Narcissus" brings out the most brilliant aspects of the film, a brightness and splendor that makes the drab Order of Mary nuns re-think a few things. The magnificent & exotic locale, high in the Himalayas, as well as clashing cultures trying to meld, make this a most absorbing experience. Okay, the nuns take a castle in the mountains to teach the locals. That's all I'll tell of the plot. The psychological experiences of each nun are vividly portrayed, as well as the intrusion of a local girl and an Indian prince. A very mystic atmosphere pervades, and the nuns start thinking mundane thoughts. Ah! The mystery of the mountains! It's a bit of a downer to find out that you're not seeing the Himalayas in their splendor; rather, all was filmed on a stage in England. The Oscar-winning art direction and cinematography are totally responsible for creating this wonderfully mysterious place. The Criterion version preserves the phenomenal photography, with colors clashing against each other, creating a visual display of the confusion those poor nuns were facing. Indeed, they all changed, in one way or another. Clear and crisp, you can see every facial wrinkle and every minute detail of costumes and jewelry. A fine achievement. Shadows against sunlight, and brilliant color...quite lovely. It's fun to see a post-adolescent Sabu, though here he plays a fancy young guy and looks uncomfortable, considering his greatest fame came wearing a much more comfortable loincloth. The rest of the acting is excellent, without exception. Deborah Kerr, in one of her first big roles, is commanding, as well as Kathleen Byron, Flora Robson, David Farrar, and an amazing performance by a 17-year old Jean Simmons, as a little Indian tart.Read more ›
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By A Customer on Sept. 7 2005
Format: DVD
One day, while I was washing the dishes, I turned on the TV and started flipping through channels, landing on "Black Narcissus", which was just ending. I had tuned in to the big climax, so I, of course, didn't fully understand what was going on, but after seeing the ending I thought, "I have to see this movie!!!" I was mesmerized by the images, the music, the acting, everything! Luckily, the same channel was rerunning the film later that night, so I was able to tape it and watch it the next day.
"Black Narcissus" is truly a cinematic classic. It won an Academy Award for Best Cinematography, and it is no wonder. The recreation of Mopu Palace on the mountain with its incredible drop are amazing and very realistic, especially for the 1940s. There are so many scenes that I love, but I don't want to give away the plot. The climactic ending is incredible, as is the "lipstick" scene between Sister Ruth (Kathleen Byron)and Sister Clodagh (Deborah Kerr). I also love Sister Clodagh's flashback scenes, especially the one where Sister Clodagh's face is superimposed on the face of the character as a young woman, before she became a nun, telling the man she loves "I want to stay like this the rest of my life". A poignant moment when we realize that she became a nun to escape the shame of a failed love affair.
The movie can be rather strange at times; I found May Hallatt's character to be overdone in certain scenes, but at other times she is brilliant. Kathleen Byron as Sister Ruth is unforgettable, and Deborah Kerr is excellent, as usual. All the actors are quite good in their roles.
I wouldn't say that this movie is for everyone, but if you like good cinema, then give it a try.
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Format: VHS Tape
I can't think of another film that has the same feeling of exotic atmosphere that's found in this haunting story. The title comes from a flower with an enticing perfume.
A beautiful young Irish nun, Sister Clodagh (Deborah Kerr) is sent off to an area in the Himalayan Mountains to establish a new convent. She's an extremely intelligent and competent woman, but the surroundings of the convent add an element of uneasiness and longing to the lives of the nuns. The building had been a harem at one point and the place is completely unsuitable for a convent. Sister Clodagh starts to dwell on her past life as do some of the other nuns which makes for an unsettled feeling within the convent. Kanchi, (Jean Simmons) is a young native woman who adds sensuality and mystery to the film when she flirts with the Young General played by Sabu. The difficult local agent, Mr. Dean provides a masculine influence that effects the sinister Sister Ruth, who is already very disturbed. All of the performances are great!
Rumer Godden, is the very talented author of this story. She's written many memorable books which have been made into films. Another of her classic stories is IN THIS HOUSE OF BREDE. The movie version features Diana Rigg in the part of a woman who becomes a cloistered nun.
BLACK NARCISSUS is beautifully filmed and worth seeing..
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Format: VHS Tape
It is rare that a cinematographer gets credited with the success of a film before the producer director or even actor, but this has been the case recently with Black Narcissus. This is high praise indeed when you consider the directors and producers were Powell and Pressburger. Although his screen credit was prominent enough at the time the picture was made, since Jack Cardiff won Best Cinematographer (Color) Academy Award in 1947, his profile was raised further.
Cardiff's Special Academy Award last year recognises his contributions to this film, The Red Shoes, A Matter Of Life And Death and Rambo among others. The fact that Technicolor was still a developing technique makes Cardiff's achievements even more remarkable. The subtle contrasts he achieves particularly in the shooting of landscape scenery and locations are usually only achieved with monochrome photography. The splendid costumes on the other hand, provide rich reds, yellows and greens to contrast with the pale blues and greys of the background, making all the actors not playing nuns stand out, particularly Ruth when she wears her new red dress. Look at how the colouring of the dress changes according to her mood, achieved with skilful use of lighting and shadows. Sometimes it appears purple, others black, and sometimes bright scarlet. Earlier, Ruth is heard to remark that all the Indians look the same to her, which is ironic when the nuns' habits make them look alike, but the rich costume of the leading Indians mark each out as an individual. This reflects the mature attitude to race displayed in this film. There is little or no blacking up (apart from Jean Simmons), the beliefs and customs of the Indians are treated with respect by the film-makers, if not by all of the nuns.
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