After opening a convent in the Himalayas, five nuns encounter conflict and tension - both with the natives and also within their own group - as they attempt to adapt to their remote, exotic surroundings.
Sister Clodagh, currently posted at the Convent of the Order of the Servants of Mary in Calcutta, has just been appointed the Sister Superior of the St. Faith convent, making her the youngest sister superior in the order. The appointment is despite the reservations of the Reverend Mother who believes Sister Clodagh not ready for such an assignment, especially because of its isolated location. The convent will be a new one located in the mountainside Palace of Mopu in the Himalayas, and is only possible through the donation by General Todo Rai of Mopu - "The Old General" - of the palace, where the Old General's father formerly kept his concubines. On the Old General's directive, the convent is to provide schooling to the children and young women, and general dispensary services to all native residents who live in the valley below the palace. Accompanying Sister Clodagh will be four of the other nuns, each chosen for a specific reason: Sister Briony for her strength, Sister Phillipa who... Written by
Frozen (2013) is said to have taken inspiration in this film for its snowy landscapes. See more »
Two similar Christian religious statues are shown in the convent in the film. One is on the floor in the blue room where Dean first meets Sister Clodagh to talk business. It is hidden behind the nuns where they enter to speak to Dean. Another very similar statue, but bearing a cross (possibly St Faith), is shown next to Dean as he converses with Sister Clodagh. It has some packing material (straw) on it (19:02). Later on, this second statue is shown being unpacked from its crate by Dean and a servant to be placed above the doorway leading to the yard (27:27). See more »
The story line for this movie has been covered by many reviewers and I will make no attempt to further explain the plot. What I will point you to are the most incredible cinematography and acting elements of this classic presentation. Technicolor is remarkably presented by Jack Cardiff and I have yet to see a movie which is so visually vibrant and pleasing. Some of the still paintings and sets at Pinewood are truly remarkable considering this picture was made over 50 years ago. Alfred Junge must take credit for those remarkable designs and sets. The acting is pure theater with an absolutely insane delivery by Kathleen Byron (Sister Ruth) as the emotionally fragile nun slowly loosing grip with reality. Her red lipstick scene is pure magic as is her appearance from the large wooden doors, pale, insane and soaked in water towards the end of the movie. What a terrific shot displaying her insanity captured in all the right mood, music and color. Deborah Kerr (Sister Clodagh) does same amazing acting with visual delight and incredible facial expressions. Her anger scenes are quite remarkable throughout the film as she shakes with pure venom at Sister Ruth. The terror in her face where she prays alone in the chapel with Sister Ruth roaming the stairways is quite remarkable. There are many other memorable scenes with light, color and music which makes this the best movie of Powell and Pressburger (IMHO). Buy the Criterion DVD and watch it endlessly.
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