IMDb > Black Narcissus (1947)
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

Overview

User Rating:
8.0/10   14,701 votes »
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Down 7% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
Writers:
Rumer Godden (adapted from the novel by)
Michael Powell (written by) ...
(more)
Contact:
View company contact information for Black Narcissus on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
December 1947 (USA) See more »
Genre:
Tagline:
Exquisite Yearning ! . . . Exotic Living ! High in a hidden mountain village of a strange land and extravagant dreams and desires become exciting realities ! See more »
Plot:
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:
Awards:
Won 2 Oscars. Another 4 wins See more »
NewsDesk:
(207 articles)
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User Reviews:
Beautiful and Powerful See more (129 total) »

Cast

  (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
Hein Heckroth .... costumes
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:
Runtime:
100 min
Country:
Language:
Color:
Color (Technicolor)
Aspect Ratio:
1.37 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Mono (Western Electric Recording)
Certification:
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?

Trivia:
Jack Cardiff said that the lighting and color palette of this film was inspired by the works of 17th-century Dutch painter Vermeer.See more »
Goofs:
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 »
Quotes:
The Old General:[Dictating his orders for welcoming the soon-to-arrive nuns] Mr. Dean! You will receive them for me, and you will do everything for them that they want doing.
The Old General:[Now turning his attention to Ayah] You too. You will engage servants for them, and you will both look after them until they care to look after themselves.
Angu Ayah:What do they eat? How do I know what nuns eat?
The Old General:I have remembered that.
The Old General:[Toda Rai walks over to a screened opening that looks out over the courtyard, where his men are unloading advance provisions for the nuns, who are still on their way] Do you see that crate?
[...]
See more »
Movie Connections:
Edited into A Bit of Scarlet (1997)See more »
Soundtrack:
Lullay My LikingSee more »

FAQ

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.
49 out of 54 people found the following review useful.
Beautiful and Powerful, 2 February 2001
Author: Jon Kolenchak from Pittsburgh, PA USA

The idea of one individual's inner conflicts within an organized religious group is not necessarily a new concept in story telling. Depending on the talents of the artists involved, and usually the stellar performance of one individual, the results can be quite good, and at times extraordinary.

Now, take that premise and reverse it. What happens when you have an entire group of individuals, who, for some reason beyond their understanding, begin to question their faith, vows, and purpose in life? You have the film Black Narcissus.

A group of Anglican nuns led by Deborah Kerr as Sister Clodah are sent to the Himalaya Mountains to create a school and hospital from an abandoned palace. The palace was once called "The House of Women" and is rather ornately decorated with erotic art. In the opening scenes, we are told that an order of Brothers had attempted to do the same thing as the Sisters, but failed.

Sister Clodah obviously enjoys the fact that she has been chosen, and also enjoys being in charge. Not long after the nun's arrival their "straight-laced" behavior begins to loosen, their discipline becomes more lax, and the foundation of their self-image begins to change.

Deborah Kerr is wonderful as Sister Clodah. There's more to her character than immediately meets the eye. David Farrar as Mr. Dean, Flora Robson as Sister Philippa, Sabu as The Young General, and Jean Simmons as Kanchi are a superb acting ensemble. However it is Kathleen Byron as the emotionally disturbed Sister Ruth that you will remember the most after viewing this film.

The extraordinary performances in this film are complimented visually with the flawless cinematography by Jack Cardiff. This is one of the most beautifully composed color films I have ever seen. I did not know that this film was shot entirely in a studio until after I had seen it several times. Some of the matte shots are extremely realistic, and others look more like beautiful paintings. All this serves to reinforce the struggle between illusion and reality, and also passion and chastity.

Brian Easdale's musical score is extremely effective, and his use of a wordless chorus is fascinating -- whether they are singing an Irish folk-like song or an Indian chant. In the climactic scene, there is over 10 minutes of film time when not a single word is spoken; just the chorus and orchestra.

Black Narcissus brings home the point that we are all sometimes far too ambitious, vulnerable, obstinate, passionate, and alas, human.

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Blacking up andrewbanks
Greatest Technicolor film? BumpyRide
Am I missing something with Sister Philippa? humdrumhum-144-411611
The real psychotic in this film was... shankmaker
Help me understand this movie? Please? do4600
Sister Ruth's mental condition erlend2
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