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Black Narcissus


Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger

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About the Movie

This explosive work about the conflict between the spirit and the flesh is the epitome of the sensuous style of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger. 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. A darkly grand film that won Oscars for Alfred Junge’s art direction and Jack Cardiff’s cinematography, Black Narcissus is one of the greatest achievements by two of cinema’s true visionaries.

Rotten Tomatoes Movie Reviews


  • Reviews Counted: 29
  • Fresh: 29
  • Rotten: 0
  • Average Rating: 8.8/10

Top Critics' Reviews

Fresh: While Messrs. Powell and Pressburger may have a picture that will disturb and antagonize some, they also have in Black Narcissus an artistic accomplishment of no small proportions. – Thomas M. Pryor, New York Times, Jun 24, 2010

Fresh: Production has gained much through being in color. The production and camerawork atone for minor lapses in the story, Jack Cardiff's photography being outstanding. – Variety Staff, Variety, Jul 7, 2010

Fresh: This is a landmark of Hollywood-on-Thames trompe-l'oeil. – Michael Sragow, New Yorker, Aug 3, 2015

Fresh: Powell's equally extravagant visual style transforms it into a landscape of the mind -- grand and terrible in its thorough abstraction. – Dave Kehr, Chicago Reader, Jun 24, 2010

Read More About This Movie On Rotten Tomatoes

Customer Reviews

Simply Spectacular

A groundbreaking technicolor masterpiece. Created by one of the greatest collaborations in film Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger. Also in collaboration was Jack Cardiff. Cardiff worked with Powell and Pressburger on other technicolor beauties such as the earlier film “A Matter of Life and Death” (1946) and the later “The Red Shoes” (1948). It was a daring one. Having strong themes of lust and sensuality. The portrayal of these themes were extremely unnerving, glorifying it as evil. This was a way to show how nuns would possibly view sin. It felt at points like I was watching a movie about demonic possession. These scenes relied heavily on warm colored below angle lighting and simple makeup. The cinematography is pure eye-candy. From the beautifully painted matte paintings to the spectacular lighting. This as well as Powell and Pressburger’s other films are important landmarks in technicolor cinematography. They are without a doubt some of the most beautiful films you will ever see.

Nothing better.

Just the most wonderful and perfect cinematic drama. The best of the best. One of those films that makes you pause the screen, rewind, and watch the scene again, simply due to the cinematography of Jack Cardiff.

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  • $19.99
  • Genre: Drama
  • Released: 1947

Customer Ratings