Monday, 19 December 2016

Film review : Black Narcissus

Fig.1 Black Narcissus Poster

Black Narcissus was directed by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger in 1947.

A group of nuns travel to the Palace of Mopu which is located in the remote mountains of the Himalaya. The nuns are tasked with setting up a school and hospital for the local people. As the story progresses the nuns start to find themselves increasingly seduced by the sensuality of their surroundings and by the local British agent Mr Dean.

 Keith Uhlich describes the surroundings in his review : "there’s something truly unearthly about this place of howling winds, yawning chasms and atmosphere thick with temptation. Sanctity, it will be proven, is no match for sin." (Uhlich, December 31st 2012)

The opening scene of the film is of a nunnery in which sister Clodagh is being assign to go to the palace and take a group of nuns with her to help set up the necessary needs for the people, we find out that one of the nuns "Sister Ruth" Is ill and so the nun superior insists sister Clodagh takes sister Ruth so that she may recover.

When the nuns arrive at the palace they are greeted by Mr Dean who in a way is as manly as a man could be (so to speak) the nuns have no choice but to interact with Mr Dean as he is there agent.

As the story progresses the nuns are introduced to the young prince who wishes to study at the covent, the nuns at first do not wish to allow this as there rules are to only teach children and females, the nuns however decided to allow the prince to study at the covent.

As sister Clodagh interacts with Mr Dean more she is reminded of her past life in Ireland in which at the time she was with a man, and begins to loose focus on the over mission, sister Ruth also starts to become effected with constant interaction with Mr Dean, Sister Ruth eventually gains feelings for Mr Dean and wishes to remove her vowels of being a nun so that she can be with Mr Dean, Sister Ruth also becomes jealous of sister Clodagh as she believes Mr Dean and Sister Clodagh have an intermit connection.

Roger Ebert saids : "This emotional conflict is one of many that eats away at nearly all of the film's characters. Clodagh's relationship with Dean reminds her of her ill-fated longings for a former friend. Ruth, who was emotionally disturbed even before joining the expedition seems to become completely unhinged once Dean shows her an act of kindness which she might have been seeking for so long. And Dean himself, a charming cynic who has seen-it-all, appears to surprise himself with how much he grows to care and admire Sister Clodagh's resolve, however misplaced it may be." (Ebert, March 5th 2010)

Sister Ruth's affection eventually causes her to become tormented by the jealousy of seeing sister Clodagh and Mr Dean together and falls into the demise of madness. In one scene sister ruth is seen wearing a red dress and seductively putting on red lipstick, as for the colour aspect red can be a representation of lust and sexual desires.

Keith Uhlich  "The exotic place and the constant wind lead Sister Clodagh to bask in memories of her past as a young woman of privilege in Ireland. Meanwhile, Sister Ruth plunges even further into her sexual reverie by convincing herself that she loves Mr. Dean, even though he has barely spoken to her."(Uhlich, December 31st 2012)

at the climax of the film sister Clodagh goes out to ring the morning bell, while sister ruth attempts to sneak up to sister Clodagh and push her off the mounting side, Sister Ruth fails to do so and ends up with both sister Clodagh and sister Ruth fighting for there safety, sister ruth eventually falls off the mountain to her death.

Keith Uhlich, December 31st 2012)

Roger Ebert, March 5th 2010,

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