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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.
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.
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Top Customer Reviews
"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.
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..
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.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
Excellent sur toute la ligne. Produit de première qualité et expédié rapidement ! Read morePublished on Feb. 1 2013 by MFJ
Not up to expectations -- rather dull to tell the truth. Definitely a rental, not a purchase.Published on Oct. 5 2010 by ZybotCRX
A perfect film that uses metaphor, colour, landscape to portray an inner dimension to people previously unavailable to the screen. Pure genius. Read morePublished on Dec 27 2007 by Daniel Goorevitch
Great coluors , views;a bit dark ,at times but overall a fine print. The only wish that the description offerred at the end of the DVD had been transcribed into English. Read morePublished on July 8 2007 by 'Space Captain'
This review is for the Criterion Collection DVD edition of the film.
In my opinion, this film's plot was kind of boring and slow. Read more
Not only is this the most erotic British film ever made... it is one of the most erotic films ever and in terms of understanding what IS erotic, is a pre-eminent example of 'less... Read morePublished on Oct. 25 2003 by Ian Muldoon
Visualy perfect, colorful, brilliantly directed and acted. My favorite Criterion Collection DVD. Only gets better with each viewing. Read morePublished on Sept. 6 2003 by J. A. Stankunas
A lot of the people here give this movie glowing reviews, not in small part due to the cinematography. Basically, who cares if the filmwork is pretty if the movie stinks? Read morePublished on July 12 2003 by illiandantic
Being a huge fan of the artistic team's Stairway to Heaven (AKA A Matter of Life and Death) and The Red Shoes, and after reading the glowing reviews in regards to this film, my... Read morePublished on June 23 2003 by Bruce Kendall