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Black Narcissus (1947)

 -  Drama  -  December 1947 (USA)
8.0
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Ratings: 8.0/10 from 13,914 users  
Reviews: 127 user | 103 critic

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.

Writers:

(adapted from the novel by), , 1 more credit »
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Title: Black Narcissus (1947)

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
Flora Robson ...
Jenny Laird ...
Judith Furse ...
...
Sister Ruth
...
The Old General
...
The Young General
...
Mr. Dean
...
Kanchi
May Hallatt ...
Angu Ayah
Eddie Whaley Jr. ...
Joseph Anthony
Shaun Noble ...
Con
Nancy Roberts ...
Mother Dorothea
Ley On ...
Phuba
Edit

Storyline

Sister Clodah is dispatched with four other nuns to establish a new convent far in the Himalayas. It's a difficult journey and their new house is a ramshackle old building on the edge of a cliff that had been abandoned by a religious Brotherhood many years before. They soon establish a school and an infirmary though the local General's agent, Mr. Dean, warns them against treating the deathly ill as they would no doubt be blamed if the patient doesn't recover. The location, the culture and the mountain air all begin to have a strange effect on the Sisters. Sister Clodagh, who is also on her first assignment as Sister Superior, begins to remember a romance she had as a young woman before entering the sisterhood. Another however, becomes obsessed with Mr. Dean, which leads to tragedy. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

nun | convent | cliff | doubt | mountain | See All (206) »

Taglines:

A Story to Storm Your Heart! Drama at the top of the world ... where winds of the exotic past sweep men and women to strange and fascinating adventure... See more »

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

December 1947 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Narciso negro  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Budget:

£280,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The much admired Himalayan scenery was all created in the studio (with glass shots and hanging miniatures). See more »

Goofs

Near the beginning the bell for the future school and infirmary is rung. As the bell swings forward towards the viewer it partially disappears behind some scenery that depicts landscape which is supposed to be behind the bell. See more »

Quotes

The Old General: [Speaking to the old Ayah, who dates back to when the palace, now intended for nuns, was used to house Toda Rai's father's concubines] Now listen, Ayah. I have invited some ladies to stay here, at the "house of women."
Angu Ayah: [Ecstatic, not realizing that the "ladies" Toda Rai is referring to are nuns] Ladies! Oh, that will be like old times!
The Old General: It will not be in the least like old times. They are not that kind of "lady" at all!
Angu Ayah: Then they won't be any fun.
The Old General: They are not coming for fun. These are nuns. Do ...
[...]
See more »

Crazy Credits

Opening credits:- Convent of the Order of the Servants Calcutta See more »

Connections

Spoofed in Legally Blonde (2001) See more »

Soundtracks

Lullay My Liking
Old Edwardian Carol
Music by Sir Richard Terry
New music by Brian Easdale
See more »

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User Reviews

 
A Hypnotic and Dazzling Film
24 April 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

This spellbinding movie from that spellbinding film-making team (Powell and Pressburger) is another entry in the long line of literary and film stories that revolve around British restraint and repression unraveling under the force of mysterious foreign cultures (usually Eastern and frequently Indian), and it's one of the best.

A group of nuns travel to the Himalayas to do missionary work among the natives, but instead find themselves coming under the mystical spell of the place and people around them. Deborah Kerr is stunning as the head nun, who's determined to maintain order and British civility at all costs. I still can't decide whether this or "The Innocents" (1961) gave her her best role. At the other extreme is Kathleen Byron's Sister Ruth, who renounces her vows, paints her lips bright red, and engages in a fierce battle of wills with Kerr. What follows is a film that is surprisingly sexual, erotic and wild.

Powell and Pressburger are experts at using color. Instead of employing their Technicolor to simply make their film look pretty, the color almost becomes a character in itself, creating a feverish, hyper-realistic glow to the film. Legendary cameraman Jack Cardiff is responsible for the sterling and Oscar-winning cinematography. Equally stunning is the art direction, which created very realistic mountains out of papier-mache.

A simply sensational film, one that holds up completely and could be watched again and again. This and "Out of the Past" vie in my esteem for best film released in 1947.

Grade: A+


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