The rants and raves of a teenage cinephile who is just a little bit obsessed with Catherine O'Hara and Hayao Miyazaki.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Black Narcissus (1947)

I've decided that now that Oscar season is over and 2011 has officially not yet given me a single movie that I want to see, it's time to catch up on some classics. So, if you have any suggestions, please mention in the comments and I'll almost surely watch what you suggest. "Black Narcissus" is a rather fascinating film that survives mainly because of its gorgeous cinematography. The colors are planned so well it's almost as if the movie is one hour and forty minute long painting, and some shots are just so breathtaking it's unbearable. The fact that the entire thing was filmed on a backlot in London is stunning when you see shots like the nuns ringing the bell on the cliff, or the panoramic looks at the "Himalayas". For the most part the acting is quite fantastic - Deborah Kerr's icy, yet vulnerable performance is absorbing and exhilarating to watch, and Kathleen Byron is a whirlwind in her final scenes. The story is paced somewhat strangely - the climax is fantastic but the lead up to said climax doesn't necessarily make sense. The script could have used more narrative focus though it's not bad enough to detract majorly from the rest of the amazing things happening in this film.



  1. Isn't that just the best feeling?! After the mad rush to see all the previous year's movies in time for the Oscars, it's time for watching movies at your leisure... Great choice - just watched the clip of Deborah Kerr accepting her honorary Oscar the other day. Great lady.

  2. Robert,

    The color in this film is jawdropping -- I don't know the process, but it adds to the surreality of the story.

    Dripping with post-War exhaustion and Freudian demons, its setting is that very late colonial world also on its way out.

    The question in the film is how do we manage to control the impulses now that we've just witnessed the slaughter of tens of millions?


  3. I want to live in this movie's sets. They are all so gorgeous! I wouldn't even care that Sister Ruth was trying to kill me if my world looked this amazing...

  4. I've been puttin off watching this for so damn long, even though it has psycho nuns, which is my favorite sub-sub-sub-genre.

  5. Luke: It's such a great feeling! My Netflix queue has grown exponentially since the Oscars ended. Haha

    Trulyfool: Great points. The color especially hit me in all the right places.

    Jose: Seriously, and to think it was all filmed on a backlot in London is just astounding.

    Simon: Psycho nuns! Bahaha. I love that sub-sub-sub genre as well. You definitely need to watch this, it's a staple. :)

  6. im gonna recommend Brief Encounter to you, its beautiful and a perfect example of repressed british sensibilities of the period. The famous critic Bazin once declared this to be the finest movie of its time. He later changed his mind but it's still an incredible piece of cinema.

  7. The Death of a Cyclist, Spanish, 1955, dir. J. A. Bardem.

  8. And, yes, B.N. has stunning art direction and cinematography, and although it teeters precariously on the vast precipice of melodrama,it does not fall off, unlike Sister Ruth.




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