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Black Narcissus
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Black Narcissus (1947) More at IMDbPro »

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Black Narcissus -- A group of nuns (played by some of Britain's finest actresses, including Deborah Kerr, Kathleen Byron, and Flora Robson) struggle to establish a convent in the Himalayas, while isolation, extreme weather, altitude, and culture clashes all conspire to drive the well-intentioned missionaries mad.
Black Narcissus -- Trailer for this classic drama


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Down 2% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
Rumer Godden (adapted from the novel by)
Michael Powell (written by) ...
View company contact information for Black Narcissus on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
December 1947 (USA) See more »
Exquisite Yearning ! . . . Exotic Living ! High in a hidden mountain village of a strange land and extravagant dreams and desires become exciting realities ! See more »
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. Full summary » | Add synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
Won 2 Oscars. Another 4 wins See more »
(211 articles)
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User Reviews:
A film about nuns and lust ... but it's not what you'd expect. See more (127 total) »


  (in credits order) (verified as complete)

Deborah Kerr ... Sister Clodagh

Flora Robson ... Sister Philippa
Jenny Laird ... Sister Honey
Judith Furse ... Sister Briony

Kathleen Byron ... Sister Ruth

Esmond Knight ... The Old General

Sabu ... The Young General

David Farrar ... Mr. Dean

Jean Simmons ... Kanchi
May Hallatt ... Angu Ayah
Eddie Whaley Jr. ... Joseph Anthony
Shaun Noble ... Con
Nancy Roberts ... Mother Dorothea
Ley On ... Phuba
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Joan Cozier ... Girl in Classroom (uncredited)
Helen de Broy ... Clodagh's Mother in Flashback (uncredited)
Maxwell Foster ... Clodagh's Father in Flashback (uncredited)
Margaret Scudamore ... Clodagh's Grandmother in Flashback (uncredited)

Directed by
Michael Powell 
Emeric Pressburger 
Writing credits
Rumer Godden (adapted from the novel by)

Michael Powell (written by) and
Emeric Pressburger (written by)

Produced by
George R. Busby .... assistant producer
Michael Powell .... producer
Emeric Pressburger .... producer
Original Music by
Brian Easdale (music and sound score composed by)
Cinematography by
Jack Cardiff (photographed in Technicolor by)
Film Editing by
Reginald Mills 
Casting by
Adele Raymond (uncredited)
Production Design by
Alfred Junge 
Costume Design by
Hein Heckroth 
Makeup Department
George Blackler .... makeup artist (uncredited)
Biddy Chrystal .... hair stylist (uncredited)
Ernest Gasser .... assistant makeup artist (uncredited)
June Robinson .... assistant hair stylist (uncredited)
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Sydney Streeter .... assistant director (as Sydney S. Streeter)
Laurie Knight .... third assistant director (uncredited)
Robert Lynn .... third assistant director (uncredited)
Pat MacDonnell .... second assistant director (uncredited)
Kenneth K. Rick .... second assistant director (uncredited)
Art Department
Arthur Lawson .... assistant art director
Harold Batchelor .... chief construction manager (uncredited)
Ivor Beddoes .... scenic artist (uncredited)
Beatrice Dawson .... jewellery (uncredited)
Allan Harris .... draughtsman (uncredited)
William Kellner .... draughtsman (uncredited)
Don Picton .... draughtsman (uncredited)
Harry Rose .... scenic artist (uncredited)
Elliot Scott .... draughtsman (uncredited)
Sound Department
Stanley Lambourne .... sound
Gordon K. McCallum .... dubbing
John Dennis .... chief production mixer (uncredited)
George Paternoster .... boom operator (uncredited)
John Seabourne Jr. .... dubbing editor (uncredited)
Special Effects by
E. Hague .... special effects (uncredited)
Jack Higgins .... special effects (uncredited)
Sydney Pearson .... special effects (uncredited)
James Snow .... special effects (uncredited)
Visual Effects by
W. Percy Day .... process shots
Ivor Beddoes .... special photographic effects (uncredited)
Arthur George Day .... matte painter (uncredited)
Thomas Sydney Day .... matte painter (uncredited)
W. Percy Day .... matte painter (uncredited)
Peter Ellenshaw .... assistant matte artist (uncredited)
E. Hague .... special effects camera (uncredited)
Jack Higgins .... foreground miniatures (uncredited)
Camera and Electrical Department
Dick Allport .... assistant camera: Technicolor (uncredited)
George Cannon .... still photographer: color (uncredited)
Christopher Challis .... camera operator (uncredited)
Ian Craig .... focus puller (uncredited)
Ronald Cross .... focus puller (uncredited)
Fred Daniels .... still photographer: portraits (uncredited)
Michael Livesey .... clapper loader (uncredited)
Max Rosher .... still photographer (uncredited)
Herbert Salisbury .... clapper loader (uncredited)
Stanley W. Sayer .... camera operator (uncredited)
Edward Scaife .... camera operator (uncredited)
Bill Wall .... lighting electrician (uncredited)
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Dorothy Edwards .... wardrobe mistress (uncredited)
Elizabeth Hennings .... wardrobe supervisor (uncredited)
Bob Rayner .... wardrobe master (uncredited)
Editorial Department
Noreen Ackland .... second assistant editor (uncredited)
Lee Doig .... second assistant editor (uncredited)
Seymour Logie .... first assistant editor (uncredited)
Music Department
Brian Easdale .... conductor: The London Symphony Orchestra
Ted Drake .... music recordist (uncredited)
Other crew
Joan Bridge .... associate colour control
Natalie Kalmus .... colour control
J. Arthur Rank .... presenter (as J.Arthur Rank)
Joanna Busby .... assistant continuity (uncredited)
Winifred Dyer .... continuity (uncredited)
Vivienne Knight .... publicist (uncredited)
Bill Paton .... assistant: Mr. Powell (uncredited)
Crew verified as complete

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Additional Details

Also Known As:
100 min
Color (Technicolor)
Aspect Ratio:
1.37 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Mono (Western Electric Recording)
Argentina:13 | Australia:PG | Finland:S | Netherlands:12 | Netherlands:18 (original rating) (1947) | South Korea:12 (2004) | Sweden:15 | UK:A (original rating) (passed with cuts) | UK:U (tv rating) | UK:U (re-rating) (2005) | UK:U (video rating) (1986) (2005) (uncut) | UK:PG (re-rating) (1985) (uncut) | USA:Not Rated | USA:Approved (PCA #11874, Adult Audience) | USA:TV-14 (TV rating) | West Germany:16
Filming Locations:

Did You Know?

The Legion of Decency still held great sway on filmgoing habits in America, and a Condemned film would eliminate a huge number of ticket sales. The film had already opened in New York and Los Angeles, but the ban interfered with scheduled openings in other cities, such as Detroit and Memphis. Rank was in a bad position. Parliament had just imposed a 75 percent duty on American films imported to England, and Hollywood was temporarily boycotting the British market. The few British films that could play well in America were encouraged as a goodwill gesture, so Rank was anxious that the film play in as many American cities as possible. The only option they saw was to make cuts to the film to satisfy the Legion of Decency. So, the film was edited by 900 feet or so - ten cuts in all. All of Sister Clodagh's memories of Ireland were cut, accounting for most of the offending footage. The close-up of Sister Ruth applying lipstick also fell victim to censorship, and a few lines of suggestive dialogue were also eliminated, for example Mr. Dean's line to Sister Briony, "You will be doing me a great favour when you educate the local girls." Finally, the wording of the foreword was changed so that there would be no mistaking that the order of nuns might be Catholic; now it said that "a group of Protestant nuns in mysterious India find adventure, sacrifice, and tragedy." Now satisfied, the ban was removed and the film was released with an A2 classification from the Legion.See more »
Continuity: 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 »
Sister Ruth:What can you do with them? They look very stupid to me. Remember, they can't speak a word of Hindustani, *or* English.See more »
Movie Connections:
Referenced in Hollywood Uncensored (1987)See more »
Lullay My LikingSee more »


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77 out of 84 people found the following review useful.
A film about nuns and lust ... but it's not what you'd expect., 30 January 2001
Author: SilentType from Sydney, Australia

A story about a community of nuns ... doesn't sound very exciting. But in fact, `Black Narcissus' is as erotic, spellbinding, and suspenseful as any of today's psychological thrillers.

Directing team Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger manage to combine a number of unlikely and potentially sensational elements - eroticism, desire, and isolation - into the story of a company of Anglican nuns who attempt to establish a civilised community in the former bordello of the Rajah, in the untamed hills of the Himalayas.

Their leader, Sister Clodagh, communicates with the indigenous leader of the land via a profligate Englishman, Mr Dean. Worn down by the hostile surroundings and the isolation, Sister Clodagh finds her nuns becoming restless and discontent. It is when one of her them, Sister Ruth, becomes infatuated with Mr Deans, that the fragile and repressed community begins to implode.

Pressburger and Powell deliberately used studio exteriors and special effects rather than shooting on location in order to ensure that the characters and their story remained the focus of the film, and not its exotic setting. This lends to the movie a heightened, mesmeric atmosphere which contributes highly to its artistic success, and earned two Academy Awards.

The famous wordless sequence towards the end of the film displays a particularly interesting approach. The music to this sequence was written and recorded first. Played back during the recording of the sequence, it dictated the movements and motivations of the actors.

Still completely convincing today, `Black Narcissus' is one of Britain's most important and innovative films.

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