Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Film Review: Black Narcissus

Black Narcissus (1947) 100min

(Figure 1: Back Narcissus Poster)

Black Narcissus, (1947) directed by the British writer/producer directors Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, is a story based on a psychological drama of emotional tensions within a convent of nuns in the Himalayas surrounded by a vibrant Indian culture. As Michael Mirasol says in his review; ''He depicts the nuns' mountain enclave as an ashen and distant; colorless as the sisterhood's singular devotion to their vocation. The local Indian populace is back dropped with vibrant color, looking more natural and lively.'' (M. Mirasol, 2010) This soon becomes visible within the convent with displays of dark reds and misty blues and purples.

(Figures 2 & 3: Bell Tower and Assassins Creed II)

Modern day viewers may also to pick up on features throughout many scenes that lead to resources that might not have been recognized until after watching the film itself. When Sister Clodagh looks down over the cliff face ready to begin the bell ringing, there is a very modern interpretation to this particular scene setup. From comparing the two images above, you can see a clear similarity between the typical 'Assassins' outfit from the ''Assassins Creed" franchise and Sister Clodagh's religious white gown. White is very symbolic in terms of purtity and perfection; this lies against the stages of Sister Ruths mental state of heightened sexual emotion.

(Figures 4 & 5: Sister Ruth)

As figure 3 shows of Sister Ruth gazing some what menacingly, the audience get a true understand of her thoughts and emotions just by the colours light around her. As the next quote by Dave Kehr says; ''A story of damaged faith and rising sexual hysteria..'' (D. Kehr, s.d) Dark reds and oranges and misty grey's are all of which give an uneasy, sickly appearance to Ruth becoming seduced by her love for Mr. Dean; however eventually succumbing to her madness she strips herself entirely of her 'purity' and applies the highly metaphorical red lipstick expressing her vanity.

One of the very last scenes where the full anamosity bvetween sister ruth and sister Clodagh is when sister ruth becomes the modern day 'person in black' sinister stalker. Her movements appear animal like as she scurries along the floors and up thr stairway. This dramatises her character by not only her harsh movemenets but her very own miusicality. As Keith Uhlich says in his review; "There's something truly unearthly about this place of howling winds, yawning chasms and atmosphere thick with temptation." (K. Uhlich, 2012) is what most modern viewers with preconceived with. The film itself to some viewers is very slow to get into at first, however the futhermore the characters become changed by their surroundings, the real tension begins to flow among the storyline.


D. Kehr (s.d) Black Narcissus Film Review (Accessed on 19.11.2013)

M. Mirasol (2010) Black Narcissus Film Review (Accessed on 19.11.2013)

K. Uhlich (2012Black Narcissus Film Review (Accessed on 19.11.2013) 

Illustration List

Fig. 1. Black Narcissus Poster (1947) From: Black Narcisuss Directed by: Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger. [Poster] United Kingdom. General Film Distributors. 
URL: http://laurasmiscmusings.blogspot.co.uk/2012/11/tonights-movie-black-narcissus-1947.html (Accessed on 19.11.2013)

Fig. 2. Bell Tower (1947) From: Black Narcisuss Directed by: Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger. [Film Still] United Kingdom. General Film Distributors. 

Fig. 3. Assassons Creed II (2009) From: Assassins Creed Franchise Directed by: Patrice Désilets [Video Game Still] Ubisoft. URL: http://8bitplayground.com/2011/11/08/new-assassins-creed-coming-in-2012/ (Accessed on 19.11.2013)

Fig. 4. Sister Ruth (1947) From: Black Narcisuss Directed by: Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger. [Film Still] United Kingdom. General Film Distributors. 

Fig. 5. Sister Ruth (1947) From: Black Narcisuss Directed by: Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger. [Film Still] United Kingdom. General Film Distributors. 


  1. Hi Heidi,
    Some interesting observations made here regarding the contrast between the two cultures and they way they are reflected in the colouring...
    Be careful with your image labelling - I would suggest that you label each one individually, so that you don't get confused when referring to them; at the moment, you are talking about Figure 3 showing sister Ruth gazing menacingly, but actually that is figure 4. Also, in the illustrations list, check the medium - I think most of these images would be [film still] rather than [Poster] ?
    Other than that, good stuff!